Kalani coach Dudoit still positive despite severe health challenges

Aug. 31—Kalani vs. Kaiser is always personal for Falcons devotees.

Kalani vs. Kaiser is always personal for Falcons devotees.

More than two decades without a win over their neighborhood rivals can do that. Kaiser has a 16-game win streak over Kalani since losing to the Falcons on Sept. 24, 1999.

Kalani enters the East Honolulu showdown with a bouncy and perfect 3-0 mark. A senior crew that has been together since their youth football years is a major component in Kalani's early success.

Nothing is more personal to the Falcons, however, than their relationships with coach Radford Dudoit. He and his staff worked with them when they were incoming freshmen, some even still in middle school. Their youth league team was the Dirty Birds, borrowing a moniker for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons during more colorful years.

Dudoit, though, has missed what has been the payoff season. He is in the midst of a health crisis after suffering extreme complications following heart surgery on June 12.

"I went in for, basically, to repair an artery in my heart. After the surgery, it went OK. They gave me my medication and I guess I was allergic to it. It caused really bad blistering on my body. My heart doctor, he works in Stanford and teaches there. He basically kept pushing to get me there because I was all messed up, " Dudoit said.

It was dire straits, moving from one risky situation to death's door. He was flown from Honolulu to Stanford Medical Center.

"They were talking to me about making plans. They didn't think I was going to make it. I had a bunch of surgeries and had two of my legs amputated (below his knees ). They took care of all my other blistering. They basically brought me back at Stanford, " he said.

He and his wife, Zabrina, were at Stanford for 40 days.

"She was with me all 40 days. She slept in the hospital. She would go to the Ronald McDonald House to shower. She mentally took the brunt of everything. When I was in pain, she did what she could, " Dudoit said. "I know it took a real big toll on her. After the amputation. there was a lot of pain and they had to keep moving me around, redoing my dressing every morning. So yeah, it was kind of a lot of that for at least three weeks. Now, I'm doing good."

Dudoit, as always, kept a positive attitude. After all, even after the heart surgery was delayed from spring to summer, he couldn't wait to get back to the field with his first class of fourth-year Falcons. Now, he's hoping that he can heal up fast enough to see a game live.

"Once I was good enough to go home, I was healing, they flew me back on a private jet to Queen's here. It's going to be a long recovery, but I feel OK, even for losing two legs, one right below my knee, the other at my shin. They couldn't do anything to save my legs, " Dudoit said.

He gets fueled by text messages from his staff and players. The team connects with him before each game via FaceTime. Game days are just not the same without their head coach, but his voice continues to resound in the Falcons' hearts.

"My assistant coaches have really stepped in, especially Coach Quinn (Griffiths ). I'm enjoying the cohesiveness of how they're playing right now. They've got to straighten up a few things, but guys like Aiden Trinidad, he stepped up in a big way. My quarterback, Kynan McCartney, he's doing a good job. Silas Soberano, other guys I had on that (Dirty Birds ) team, I've seen them change over the past four years. We're starting to see the maturity side come out."

Kalani athletic director Gregory Van Cantfort visited Dudoit last week.

"His genuine nature of staying calm and looking for the good in everything may contribute to how he handles his current situation. It takes an exceptional individual to rise mentally to the level he is at right now. He is far less concerned about himself. Instead, he is much more concerned about the people around him, " Van Cantfort said. "His dry humor is still alive and well, making me laugh when I was visiting."

Kalani's early schedule included a 20-9 win over Waialua and a 20-0 shutout of McKinley in OIA Division II play. Last weekend, the Falcons stifled Bonita Vista (Calif.) 28-6. A perennial title contender like Kaiser will be their toughest test to date. Kickoff on Saturday is set for 6 :30 p.m. at Kaiser Stadium.

"All credit goes to the kids, " Griffiths said. "They love Coach Radford. He wouldn't want them to stop on his behalf. Just keep playing hard, make him proud. He loves football. He wouldn't give it up for the world. Every day I think about coaching these kids up for him. How would he want it done ? His expectations, and how we can follow."

McCartney has passed for 320 yards and three touchdowns (based on two games of statistics ).

"He's been through a lot this season, and a lot of it has to do with Coach Radford. The mental battles he's had to face. Putting his best effort in, " Griffiths said. "After that Bonita game, he's found his groove and he's ready to finish out this season with a bang."

Sonny Iaea has been a mainstay with 106 rushing yards, while Kai Kobayashi (four receptions, 131 yards ) and Soberano (five, 126, two TDs ) lead a reliable receiving corps.

The staff anticipated a later return for Dudoit when the initial surgery was postponed. Then came the news about his complications. Griffiths became the youngest head football coach in the OIA, and former defensive coordinator Adam Treinen-Aea was called back in.

"For a minute, we were scrambling. 'What's the plan ?' It would've been my first year as varsity offensive coordinator, " Griffiths said.

He was one of the coaches on staff with Dudoit when they coached the Dirty Birds.

"We have the same system now, just expanded it more, " Griffiths said. "I learned a lot from when Coach Ron (Lee ), Coach Cal (Lee ) were here. They laid out a blueprint for Coach Radford, Coach Scott (Melemai ) and the rest of us. Don't force any throws. Take what they give us. The model for defense, a really, really heavy game plan. Waialua, McKinley and Bonita all have different offenses. The guys (on defense ) have executed it perfectly."

Defense is what has stabilized the Falcons so far.

"That's always been our strong point, " Dudoit said by telephone. "I'm surprised anybody scored on us so far. Alsten (Quisquirin-Sabagala ), Chainton (Saldebar ), Aiden (Trinidad ) steps up and tries to be a leader on defense. Jordan Botelho's brother, Justin. Duke Corso, Micaiah Kanahele, Jonah Viernes. A lot of them step up and play both ways."

Dudoit looks forward to chatting, even texting, though one of his hands is slightly affected by the allergic episode. He enjoyed personal visits from Trinidad and Soberano just a day or two after returning to Honolulu. He is at The Queen's Medical Center.

"He was in pretty good spirits, talked about how the season is going. It's rough seeing him like that. We just want to play good for him, " said Soberano, a senior wide receiver. "We've just got to make the season good for him. Play disciplined football, not getting in our own heads. Playing to the best of our ability. Don't overthink stuff, too."

Trinidad, a senior linebacker, is a key part of the core senior group. Seeing his normally robust coach in the hospital was gut-wrenching, but a vital first step.

"It was just different. With everything, he seems like a different person. He's about the culture we should bring to this team. We should have pride for Kalani, to represent our team better, " Trinidad said.

Dudoit is there with them in spirit.

"I want them to see, I went to the point of where they were going to throw in the towel, to now I'm back. That's what I want them to see, the fighting part, and not giving up."

"We're here. We're going to ball out and make Coach Radford proud, " Soberano said.

No. 1 Kahuku at Farrington Friday, 7 :30 p.m.

At Skippa Diaz Stadium The new-look Governors (2-0, 1-0 ) are in David vs. Goliath mode against two-time defending Open Division state champion Kahuku (3-0, 1-0 ). When they last met in 2021, Kahuku steamrolled Farrington 75-6. Kahuku has won the past six matchups.

Farrington last beat Kahuku in 2013, 21-7 at Aloha Stadium.

Kahuku walloped Waianae 49-0 and Saint Louis 52-17 before defeating Aiea by forfeit last weekend. Former Kapolei quarterback Tuli Tagovailoa-Amosa is thriving in his new red uniform with 386 passing yards, seven TDs and no interceptions. The nimble senior has also rushed six times for 33 yards and one more TD.

Running back Va 'aimalae Fonoti is averaging 4.7 yards per carry with two TDs in as many games. Diezel Kamoku (16 catches, 217 yards, four TDs ) has been a sure-handed playmaker.

Farrington's improving offensive attack faces a defense—safety Kaimana Carvalho—that came up with five interceptions against Saint Louis. The game will not count in the standings for the Govs, a member of Division I.

No. 6 Kamehameha at No. 10 Waipahu Friday, 7 :30 p.m.

The front-loaded schedule has Waipahu (0-2, 0-1 ) battling Top 10 teams in each of the first three weeks of the season. Kamehameha's (2-0, 0-0 ) hard-nosed defense has led the way in wins over Moanalua and Waianae.

Moe Passi has racked up 211 rushing yards and three TDs (7 yards per attempt ), while Nainoa Melchor (121 yards, 3 TDs ) provides elite depth. Quarterback Jevin Bolos-Reyes is efficient (156 passing yards, two TDs, no picks ) and elusive (97 rushing yards, TD, 8.8 yards per carry ).

Kaeo Drummondo is relishing his role as Kamehameha's director of football operations and head coach.

"Especially coming back to my alma mater, it's a huge privilege. There's not too many of these positions that exist. It's a big responsibility, " he said. "I hope I'm doing right by our institution. With privilege comes responsibility. It's challenging, but it's exciting."

Large home crowds under the black flag have seen their Marauders stay close with Campbell and Kapolei, only to tumble after halftime in lopsided losses. The offensive attack, with QB JJ Manu, RB Anieli Teleaai and wideouts Jayden Chanel, Eric Stephens and Tai Aipia-Barrett, has been high-scoring (31 points per game ).

Konawaena at Leilehua Saturday, 6 :30 p.m.

On paper, the Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 ) and Mules (2-1, 1-0 ) have the talent to reach the Division I state tournament, and could meet again. The Mules are coming off a non-counting 48-7 loss to Open Division member Campbell.

WR Timothy Arnold was consistent and occasionally spectacular against the Sabers. He now has 22 receptions for 294 yards and three TDs.

The 1-2 RB combo of Cole Northington and Camren Flemister was kept under wraps by Campbell, but together they have amassed 361 rushing yards and four TDs.

Konawaena gave Long Beach Poly (Calif.) a battle for one half before losing in the season opener. Since then, the Wildcats outscored Waiakea and Hilo by a composite score of 129-8.

QB Keoki Alani has picked up from a strong 2022 season with 1, 285 passing yards, 15 TDs and three picks. He has completed 75 percent of his pass attempts.

Zed Anahu-Ambrosio has been solid with 14 catches for 332 yards, but half of his grabs—seven—have gone for TDs. Austin Takaki (25, 392, two ) and Abraham Ogata (17, 238, four ) have produced nicely.

OPEN DIVISION STATISTICS PASSING Player, team C A I Yd TD Jaron-Keawe Sagapolutele, Camp. 64 95 1 953 10 Kaunaoa Kamakawiwoole, St.L. 58 104 8 865 5 Tama Amisone, Kapolei 53 89 0 785 13 Ty McCutcheon, Punahou 39 61 2 655 5 Kini McMillan, Mililani 46 65 0 550 6 Tuli Tagovailoa-Amosa, Kahuku 32 44 0 386 7 Tayden-Evan Kaawa, Moanalua 14 27 2 193 2 George Mier, Waianae 15 24 2 161 1 Jevin Bolos-Reyes, Kamehameha 7 12 0 156 2 Naazsir Addo McCoy, Moanalua 19 38 6 142 0 RUSHING Player, team Att. Yds TD YPC YPG Tama Amisone, Kapolei 35 296 4 8.5 98.7 Moe Passi, Kamehameha 30 211 3 7.0 105.5 Keola Apduhan, Saint Louis 39 201 5 5.2 67.0 Nelson Aau, Punahou 15 185 3 12.3 92.5 Nakoa Kahana-Travis, Mililani 19 185 3 9.7 61.7 RECEIVING Player, team Rec. Yds TD YPC YPG Kaina Kamohalii, Kapolei 25 394 7 15.8 131.3 Titan Lacaden, Saint Louis 19 321 4 16.9 107.0 Tana Togafu-Tavui, Camp. 21 290 4 13.8 96.7 Astin Hange, Punahou 15 289 1 19.3 96.3 Zion White, Punahou 9 220 2 24.4 73.3 DIVISION I PASSING Player, team C A I Yd TD CJ Villanueva, 'Iolani 44 49 0 544 7 Afi Togafau, Radford 52 81 3 454 4 AJ Tuifua, Damien 28 49 3 413 6 Romeo Ortiz, Kailua 29 56 4 392 2 Bennett Strobel, Waipahu 24 43 2 360 3 Hanohano Plunkett, Leilehua 34 62 2 359 2 Kanoa Torres, Nanakuli 36 65 4 352 2 MJ Moreno, Farrington 13 24 0 204 1 Joshua Manu, Waipahu 13 25 1 199 2 Nai Kalauokaaea, Castle 10 23 0 174 1 RUSHING Player, team Att. Yds TD YPC YPG Sitani Mikaele, Farrington 34 345 4 10.1 172.5 Cole Northington, Leilehua 38 181 2 4.8 60.3 Camren Flemister, Leilehua 23 180 2 7.8 60.0 Ikaika Quidashay, Kailua 30 154 1 5.1 51.3 Ronan Fanelli, 'Iolani 29 147 3 5.1 73.5 RECEIVING Player, team Rec. Yds TD YPC YPG Timothy Arnold, Leilehua 22 294 3 13.4 98.0 Richard Federico, Nanakuli 12 221 2 18.4 110.5 Dayton Savea, Damien 11 218 3 19.8 109.0 Kekame Kane, 'Iolani 13 174 2 13.4 87.0 Eric Stephens, Waipahu 10 172 0 17.2 86.0 DIVISION II PASSING Player, team C A I Yd TD Trey Dacoscos, Pearl City 61 113 4 817 9 Iosefa Letuli, Kaimuki 42 68 0 548 5 Kynan McCartney, Kalani 34 60 6 465 5 Sean Connell, Kaiser 33 67 5 355 3 Jude Weber, Kalaheo 26 63 4 296 3 Ioane Kamanao, Roosevelt 25 49 1 280 3 Emey Abilla, Waialua 18 51 5 231 2 Mana Ka'io, McKinley 16 40 3 163 0 Colten Amai-Nakagawa, Pac-Five 12 23 1 77 0 RUSHING Player, team Att. Yds TD YPC YPG Dillon Reis, Kaiser 28 254 2 9.1 127.0 Makoakai Fierro, Waialua 48 174 2 3.6 58.0 Sonny Iaea, Kalani 39 173 3 4.4 57.7 Xavier Bezares, Roosevelt 37 165 2 4.5 82.5 Zechariah Kuratsu-Cook, Kaim 43 163 2 3.8 54.3 RECEIVING Player, team Rec. Yds TD YPC YPG Keaton Tomas, Pearl City 13 225 2 17.3 75.0 Tobias Vazquez, Pearl City 12 203 4 16.9 67.7 Kamalu Jordan, Kalaheo 10 179 2 17.9 89.5 Jeremiah White, Kaimuki 14 176 2 12.6 58.7 Keagan Lime, Kaiser 15 176 3 11.7 88.0 SCHEDULE TODAY—Woodinville (Wash.) at Waialua, 6 :30 p.m.

Friday—No. 1 Kahuku at Farrington, 7 :30 p.m.—No. 3 Mililani at Sheldon (Ore.), 4 p.m.—No. 4 Campbell at Liberty (Nev.), 4 p.m.—No. 5 Saint Louis vs. Desert Pines (Calif.) at Liberty, 1 p.m.—No. 6 Kamehameha at No. 10 Waipahu, 7 :30 p.m.—No. 7 Kapolei at Calabasas (Calif.), 4 p.m.—Kaimuki at Kailua, 3 :30 p.m.—Aiea vs. West Anchorage at Radford, 7 p.m.

Saturday—No. 2 Punahou vs. Centennial (Calif.), at San Diego, 3 :30 p.m.—Konawaena at Leilehua, 6 :30 p.m.—Kalani at Kaiser, 6 :30 p.m.—Damien (Calif.) vs. Damien at Farrington, 6 p.m.—Nanakuli at Roosevelt, 5 :30 p.m.