The Keaau Cougars will host the 6th Annual Kipimana Cup challenging the Kamehameha Warriors Thursday, this time with a new head coach who happens to be a former coach for Kamehameha.
“We are excited to host the Kipimana Cup at our campus this year,” said Iris McGuire, Keaau High School’s athletic director. “We have a new coach and style of football at Keaau High School,” she noted, referring to Aurellio Abellera, who was the defense coach for the Warriors before opting to lead the Cougars.
Hosted by W.H. Shipman, Limited, which calls Keaau home, the Kipimana Cup is a goodwill football game between the public and private schools located within a few miles radius in Keaau.
“Every year it is encouraging to see the attitude of friendship tied to this particular competition,” said Bill Walter, president of W.H. Shipman, Limited. “Team leadership has been effective in instilling what we all hoped that attitude would be: we can play hard, we can compete to win a game and we can compete here in Keaau in a spirit of good will. Similarly, we encourage incoming businesses to recognize this as a special place to do business and to work together to create an environment where our customers want to come to do business.”
Dan Lyons, head football coach for the Kamehameha Schools Keaau campus, noted the Kipimana Cup is a way of “creating a competition” among the two schools and their athletes, “but also an acknowledgement of sportsmanship” that exists between the two schools. “I just think it’s a really good thing for the community, building community togetherness with both of us being in Keaau.”
He noted that W.H. Shipman, Limited is rooted in the history of both schools, with the land originally owned by the family owned company. As for Keaau’s new coach being one of his former staffers, Lyons thinks it’s “awesome.”
“’Leo’ is a really good guy and a really good catch,” Lyons said. Noting the Cougars have already won a couple of games, he said Abellera will bring “structure, organization, character, and integrity” to the Keaau team. “I mean, he’s a very good coach and great guy. It obviously leaves a void in our program, but it certainly helps Big Island football be better.”
“I coached with Dan for the last three years, and he helped me bring back the fun in coaching and football,” Abellera said. He has actually been a math teacher at Keaau High School for the last 16 years, and this is his second time coaching there. “My dad got sick and footballl didn’t seem fun anymore,” he said.
It was Lyons and the Kamehameha Warriors that got him back into coaching. With Kamehameha on solid ground, and the Cougars in need of help, Abellera returned to Keaau.
For the Kipimana Cup Thursday, Kamehameha will show up with four wins and one loss to Kealakehe, in their most recent game on Friday. Keaau, meanwhile, will face off with the Kamehameha Warriors with two wins and one loss, having defeated the Honokaa Dragons in their most recent game last week.
Thursday’s Kipimana Cup will be a league game for both teams. Kamehameha Schools and Keaau High School didn’t always play against each other, being in different divisions — Keaau being in Division 1 and Kamehameha being in Division 2. The Big Island Interscholastic Federation League ultimately changed that, but not before W.H. Shipman, Ltd. first pitched the annual Kipimana Cup six years ago.
W.H. Shipman, Limited provides $500 to each of the school’s booster clubs following the game, and a trophy to the winning team.
The Kamehameha Warriors have won all five of the previous Kipimana Cups, but that may be a different story this year with Abellera leading the Keaau Cougars, Lyons acknowledged.
Kamehameha School’s Hawai‘i campus opened on former W.H. Shipman land in 2001 and has an enrollment of a little over 1,000 students, grades K-12, while Keaau High School has an enrollment of 880 children, grades 9-12. The school first opened in 1998, also on Shipman property.
Kipimana is how Hawaiians historically referred to Shipman. W.H. Shipman, Limited staff came up with the idea for the Kipimana Cup six years ago.
Based in the Puna for the last 130 years, W.H. Shipman, Limited currently has 17,000 acres in and around Keaau, and is active in agriculture and commercial/ industrial development and leasing. Shipman holds a long-range view toward sustainability and planned development for balanced community use.
Thursday’s Kipimana Cup will be held at Keaau High School. Kickoff for the varsity game is expected to start around 7:30 p.m., a half hour after the 5 p.m. junior varsity game ends. Expect to pay a nominal admission.
Contact Walter at 966-9325 for more details.