News: Wardawgs shut down Falcons, 24-0
Story by Kristen Wong
HONOLULU - “Hike!”
Their words slightly muffled by mouth guards, the Marine Corps Wardawgs, in white uniform jerseys with red stripes, kicked off their first game of the fall season with the Hawaii Gridiron League playing the pink-clad Air Force Falcons.
Various teams in the league gathered at Kapiolani Park to battle each other, including the Wardawgs, who defeated the Falcons, 24-0, Oct. 6, 2013.
The Falcons’ offensive players were no match for the quick flag snatches by the Wardawgs’ defensive players. It didn’t take long after beginning each down before the referee’s whistle sounded, stopping the players in their tracks. The Wardawgs consistently drove the ball toward their end zone.
The game did not escape several small disagreements between the coaches and referees, and several players took quite a tumble in their fight for the ball. One player even left a cleat behind while running the ball.
Contrary to last season, the Wardawgs currently have more players and were able to rotate the offense and defense positions throughout the game, although some team members played multiple positions.
By the end of the first half, the Wardawgs were up 12-0, but they did not relax. Wardawgs head coach Willie Folks reminded his players that just because they had the upper hand, they should treat the second half as if it were still a clean slate, 0-0.
This is Folks’ first season as the Wardawgs’ head coach. Folks said he saw potential in the players and decided to help coach them. An animated Folks and his assistant coach, Tim Champagne, offered encouragement and constant praise to their players.
The game’s four touchdowns were all scored by smart plays from Wardawgs wide receiver Shannon Nagasako, quarterback Luretta “Ol’skool” Palmer and wide receiver Leora Cain.
Nagasako has played for several seasons. Even though the Wardawgs did not win any games in the previous season, she still loves to play football with the team.
“Majority of the girls are new so I’m really pleased with the way they played today,” Nagasako said. “(It was a) 100 percent effort.”
Nagasako also credited excellent coaching by Folks and Champagne.
“I’m actually really hopeful (for the rest of the season),” Nagasako said. “I think today was a big test.”
Folks said the highlights of the game were defensive stops and Cain’s frequent flag pulls.
“I think we could do a lot better,” said Folks, looking back on the results of the first game. “We’ve got to work on our two-point conversions but other than that we did pretty good.”
Folks added the team plans to incorporate more plays into their future games.
“First game of the season, we (finally) get a win,” Cain said. “I think our team did really good considering we have a lot of new girls and a couple of girls from last season.”
Cain, who was scheduled to leave Marine Corps Base Hawaii, ended up staying longer than originally planned, and decided to play with the Wardawgs again since she had fun playing in the previous season. She was proud of scoring a touchdown this game.
“They were really, really good, and I’m proud of them,” Cain said of her teammates.
Darrick Branch, a former professional NFL player, founded the Hawaii Gridiron League three years ago.
When Branch came to Hawaii, creating a football league was the “furthest thing from my mind.” The league began with male student athletes, and expanded to create a women’s league.
This season, the women’s league has nine teams, each scheduled to play one another.
Lorraine Revilla, the operations manager for Hawaii Gridiron League, said the league hopes to find more accommodating venues for the games, where they can have more features of stadium football games, like food vendors. Previously, the league has played at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Clarence T.C. Ching Field, Kapiolani Park and various high schools.
The Hawaii Gridiron League may have “some kinks,” but Branch said the dedication the men and women have for the league encourages him to keep it going.
The league has upcoming games scheduled to play Oct. 13, 20 and 27; Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24; and Dec. 1. The championship game is scheduled for Dec. 15 and will be played at UH’s Ching Field. For more information, visit http://gridironhawaii.com.