PUKALANI - Kyle Sanches was named the head football coach at King Kekaulike High School today, the sixth man to hold the position since the Upcountry school opened in 1995.
Sanches, a 1996 Baldwin graduate who played collegiately at Montana-Western, coached at Merced (Calif.) Junior College and a couple of Mainland high schools before returning to Maui last year. He was the defensive coordinator for Kekaulike in 2012.
"I'm excited, it's very exciting," Sanches said moments after meeting with the players on campus at lunch time. "I think it's a real good opportunity. This is my home, this is where I'm from. I'm an Upcountry kid, so the idea of coaching Upcountry and being a part of this program, and this turnaround, it is very exciting."
Na Alii have a 4-20 record in the Maui Interscholastic League and 5-22 overall in the last three seasons - they were 1-8 overall (1-7 MIL) under Clarence Rivers, a veteran assistant who coached the 2012 season on a one-year basis.
Sanches took wood shop from a former King Kekaulike head coach, Dennis Dias, at Kalama Intermediate School.
"Absolutely, I have always looked up to him, coach Dias," Sanches said. "Meeting (athletic director) P.K. (Higa) and understanding what he is trying to do with the program, I think I do have some shoes to fill. J.W. (Kenton) winning the Division II state championship (in 2006), too, we do have a legacy, but that is something we do have to continue to build on."
Read more on this story in Saturday's Maui News.