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Maui High alum Wallwork takes over Sabers football

Wallwork

Aylett Wallwork Jr. got some of the best news of his football life on Monday when he was named the new head coach at Maui High School, his alma mater.

There will be one key person missing when the Sabers take the field in the fall, however: Aylett Wallwork Sr., who passed away in March 2021 and was a noted Maui High assistant from 1988 to 2002 under legendary Sabers head coach Curtis Lee.

“My dad was at every practice,” Wallwork Jr. said. “Since I came back to coaching (in 2016) his truck was parked on the side of Maui High’s practice field. For Big Boys, we practiced on the Maui High JV field. He drove up right on to the field with his truck — he was there every day. He was there more than most of our kids.

“As he drove away, he used to text me what I did wrong. So, I kind of miss him. … It was just hard. This past season, we had a season, but it was kind of hard to look at the side and he’s not there.”

Wallwork will be surrounded by his wife, Aspen, and their daughters Madison, 17, Emma, 12, Olivia, 9, when the 2022 season begins in

August. He will be the Sabers’ ninth head coach since Lee retired after 21 seasons in 2004.

“Oh, I’m excited — I mean, I’ve been running our Big Boy team for a

while, so to get a chance to see kids from, some of them since sixth grade, coming up through high school and being part of their success, I’m excited,” Wallwork said.

Maui High athletic director Mike Ban told Wallwork of the decision at lunchtime on Monday. Wallwork graduated from Maui High in 1992 before playing his freshman season at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and two more at Hawaii before injuries ended his career.

“We want to congratulate Coach Aylett Wallwork on becoming our next head football coach,” Ban said. “He’s a Maui High School graduate and he played collegiate football and we look forward to the upcoming seasons.”

Wallwork has been the interim head coach for spring drills since Robert Dougherty announced on May 4 that he was moving to California to take a head coaching job at Morro Bay High School in the fall.

“We’re finishing spring ball on Wednesday, just trying to plot out the summer with our weightlifting program, getting into preseason,” Wallwork said.

Maui High finished 4-2, all in Maui Interscholastic League play, in 2021 in the single season Dougherty coached. He was hired November 2019 after the Sabers went 0-8 in MIL play, and the 2020 season was wiped out by the pandemic.

“We have a good nucleus group of kids, they’re really good young men, we’re just trying to keep them together,” Wallwork said. “Honestly, I’m just a little overwhelmed right now because I didn’t want to go too far ahead of myself during spring ball and plan out so much things that, you know, if I wasn’t the person to do it.

“I just wanted to make sure I was the guy before I start doing everything. There’s a lot of stuff going through my head.”

Wallwork said he would like to see the program go back to the run-heavy attack that it enjoyed success with under Lee’s guidance.

“There’s some things about the offense that I want to change, there’s some things about the defense that I want to change, so there’s a lot of tweaking that we’re trying to do, trying to get it to a point where I’m comfortable,” Wallwork said. “Maui High’s always been known as a run team and we are looking to go in that direction, but also keeping some of what Rob did last year.

“So, we’re trying to mesh two styles together because the kids know a certain way and we want to be able to move seamlessly without confusion.”

Wallwork played defensive line, linebacker and punter in his days as a Saber. He played with noted Maui High standouts Kraig Vickers, Fohe Ngalu and Mike Labuanan.

Wallwork, a 22-year veteran of the Maui Police Department and currently a detective, joined the Maui High football staff in 2016 under Keith Shirota. Since then, Wallwork has also served as a Maui High assistant under Rodney Figueroa, James Kammerer and Dougherty as head coaches.

Wallwork’s first call after being told by Ban that he had the job was to his wife and the second call was to Lee. Dougherty reached out to Lee and asked him to be involved with the program, and that is something Wallwork plans to continue.

“I just hung up the phone with him,” Wallwork said of Lee. “He is my former coach, my dad coached with him for years, my dad was one of the assistants for him. So, I’ve always been close to Coach Lee. I always thought his input was important. Honestly, football hasn’t changed — it’s just terminology and type of system people want to run, but, I mean, football hasn’t changed.

“You still have got to tackle, you still have to run. Coach Lee’s opinion, it means a lot. He’s done it before. He knows the school, he knows the history. That was one thing, Rob made a connection, but, yeah, I will continue that.”

Dougherty’s staff stayed in place under Wallwork this spring while he was in an interim position. Wallwork will be discussing his staff going forward in the next few days, but several of the current staff members may remain in place.

“There’s a lot of things going through my head right now and I really can’t tell you everything because I want to be able to talk to them first,” Wallwork said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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