The stakes have been raised in high school football on the eastside of Honolulu. The Kaiser-Kalani football game just became very interesting with Rich Miano taking over the head coaching reins at his alma mater.
These are two small schools that haven’t had much football success, at least recently. But that figures to change soon at Kaiser with Miano’s hiring today and Kalani is already on the upswing.
“We’ve got the mighty Falcons right down the street,” said Miano, the former Kaiser star who went on to the University of Hawaii as a player, a long NFL career and than back to UH as an assistant coach. “The Lee brothers have done a great job there in the short time they’ve been there.”
Miano’s referring to his coaches from Kaiser back in the early 1980s, Ron and Cal Lee, who were also his colleagues on the UH staff. The Lee brothers led the Cougars to the Prep Bowl, with Miano as a star safety.
“I’m going to have to do what Ron and Cal did and go recruit players from the diving team,” said Miano, alluding to how he was spotted by the Lees at the Cougars diving pool and brought over to play football at Kaiser more than 30 years ago.
Ron Lee joined the Kalani staff two years ago after leaving UH, where he was offensive coordinator. Cal Lee, who starred as a Falcons linebacker in the 1960s, returned to his alma mater as defensive coordinator earlier this year; Cal Lee had also been on the UH staff before Norm Chow replaced Greg McMackin as head coach.
Miano said he is very excited about returning to his alma mater, where he replaces Will Lobendahn.
“I really didn’t want to leave Hawaii, and this is a great opportunity,” he said.
Miano also said he was hesitant when first approached about the job, because he didn’t want to step over Kaiser grads and long-time local coaching stalwarts Bryan Almadova and Tim Seaman.
“But they endorsed me and said they’ll be on the staff,” Miano said.