Aylett Wallwork Jr. received 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.
When the Sabers take the field in the fall, however, one key person will be missing: Aylett Wallwork Sr., who passed away in March 2021 and was a noted assistant at Maui High from 1988 to 2002 under the Sabers’ legendary head coach Curtis Lee.
“My father was there at every training session” Wallwork Jr. said, “Since I returned to coaching (2016), his truck has been parked at the edge of Maui High’s practice field. For big boys, we practiced on Maui High’s JV field. He drove his truck straight to the field – he was there every day. He was there more than most of our children.
“When he drove away, he would always write to me about what I had done wrong. So, I kind of miss him. … It was just hard. Last season we had a season but it was kind of difficult 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, and Olivia, 9, when the 2022 season begins
August. He will be the Sabers’ ninth head coach since Lee retired in 2004 after 21 seasons.
“Oh, I’m excited — I mean, I’ve been running our big boy team for a while
While I get the chance to see kids, some of them since sixth grade, progress through high school and be a part of its success, I’m excited,” Wallwork said.
Maui High athletic director Mike Ban informed Wallwork of the decision Monday noon. Wallwork graduated from Maui High in 1992 before playing his first season at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and two more in Hawaii before injuries ended his career.
“We would like to congratulate Coach Aylett Wallwork on becoming our next Head Football Coach,” said Ban. “He is a graduate of Maui High School and has played college football and we look forward to the seasons to come.”
Wallwork has been the interim head coach for Spring Drills since Robert Dougherty announced on May 4 that he was moving to California to accept a position as head coaching at Morro Bay High School in the fall.
“We’re wrapping up Spring Ball on Wednesday and just trying to plan for summer with our weightlifting program to get into the preseason.” said mural.
Maui High finished 2021 4-2 in the only season Dougherty coached, all in the Maui Interscholastic League. He was hired in November 2019 after the Sabers went 0-8 in the MIL game and the 2020 season was wiped out by the pandemic.
“We have a good core group of kids, they’re really good young men, we’re just trying to keep them together.” said mural. “Honestly, I’m a little overwhelmed right now because I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself during the Spring Ball and plan out so many things that, you know, if I wasn’t the person doing it.
“I just wanted to make sure I’m the guy before I start doing anything. So many things go through my head.”
Wallwork said he’d like to see the program return to the run-heavy attack it was successful at under Lee’s tutelage.
“There are some things on offense that I want to change, there are some things on defense that I want to change, so there’s a lot of tweaking that we’re trying to get it to where I am comfortable,” said mural. “Maui High has always been known as a running team and we want to go in that direction while also retaining some of what Rob did last year.
“So we’re trying to blend two styles together because the kids know a specific path and we want to move seamlessly and without confusion.”
Wallwork played defensive line, linebacker, and punter during his stint as a Saber. He played with well-known Maui High stars 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 an assistant at Maui High under Rodney Figueroa, James Kammerer and Dougherty as head coaches.
The first call from Wallwork after Ban told him he had the job was for his wife and the second was for Lee. Dougherty has reached out to Lee asking him to get involved with the program and Wallwork plans to continue doing so.
“I just called him” Wallwork said by Lee. “He’s my former coach, my dad trained with him for years, my dad was one of his assistants. So I was always close to Coach Lee. I always found his contribution important. To be honest, football hasn’t changed – it’s just the terminology and the type of system people want to run, but I mean football hasn’t changed.
“You still have to tackle, you still have to walk. In 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’ll continue that.
Dougherty’s staff remained under wallwork that spring while he was in a transitional position. Wallwork will be speaking about its staff over the next few days, but some of the current staff may remain in place.
“I have a lot of things going through my head right now and I really can’t tell you everything because I want to talk to them first.” said mural. “I’m just excited about the opportunity.”
* Robert Collias can be reached at [email protected]