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The City Journals

Hunter hires new head football coach

Apr 03, 2022 08:26PM ● By Greg James

The new head football coach at Hunter High School played four seasons at the University of Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of Hawai‘i Athletics)

By Greg James | g.james@mycityjournals.com

One of Hunter’s own has returned to coach his alma mater.

“I am from Hunter,” new Wolverines head football coach Harold Moleni said. “I feel like there is a lot of pressure and weight on my shoulders. The people I am working with are my peers and people I grew up with. They are people that I have known.”

Moleni graduated from Hunter in 2008. He played basketball, football and rugby for the Wolverines and received several awards in his time at the school.

After a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he accepted an offer to play football at the University of Hawaii. In his senior season for the Rainbows he caught three passes and one touchdown. The highlight was an 18-yard grab in a game against Ohio State.

In college he was named to the Academic-All Mountain West team all four years.

He was the only player in Hunter history to start every game in three straight seasons. He also was the team's all-time receptions leader.

“I came back and started helping in the community right after I graduated from college,” Moleni said.

He spent time as the Hunter Junior High basketball coach, coached the Hunter boys basketball team for three seasons and was an assistant on the football staff for six years.

As the boys basketball coach he piloted them to 29 victories in three years.

Moleni was named the school’s head coach in February after Tarell Richards stepped down in December.

“We are a little behind. I was hired at the end of the basketball season, so we have three months to make up for. We were in limbo there for a while. Right now we are going six days a week with lifting, speed and agility. We need to use every second we can to catch up,” Moleni said.

The offensive and defensive setup could change.

“It will be based on the personnel and coaching staff as to what type of schemes we run,” he said.

Players and parents have been receptive.

“I think the players were nervous. They know what kind of coach I am. They know that I am very strict and hard-nosed. We started two weeks ago and we have had 70 to 80 kids every single morning. The buy-in from the community has been great, and I think it will just get better and better,” Moleni said.

Hunter finished fourth in Region 2 last season and had a 3-7 record. They lost in the first round of the state playoffs to Layton 24-10.

Moleni expects to bring the mojo of the past to his current team.

“We want to bring back the Hunter football grit, toughness and attitude. We have been missing that. I am not sure if it is a generational thing or what. That could be the key to our success. We want to play hard-nosed and in-your-face Hunter football, that is the plan,” Moleni said.

The team has been through a lot in the past few months. The tragic shooting deaths of Paul Tahi and Tivani Lopati affected the players.

“It has been tragic, but it has helped us come together. I think we are a young and talented team and the success we see this season will be based on the buy-in during the off season,” Moleni said. “I look forward to a great season. We can do big things.”