Coaches Corner: Liko Pereira — Waimea HS

Waimea High School hadn't lost a league football game in six years. So you can understand first-year head coach Liko Pereira's humble tone when he talks about this past Waimea season, which saw the program's 34-game KIF unbeaten streak come to an end. Not coincidentally, the Menehunes' first loss came after Jordon Dizon was out of the lineup with an injury. We caught up with Pereira to talk about Dizon, and Jordon also got in on the interview.

Pereira has been around Dizon for years, as the coach served on the Waimea JV staff prior to taking over the varsity squad in 2003. The Menehunes finished 6-3, including a loss in the first round of the state playoffs.

Dizon, the 6-1, 210-pound athlete, suffered his ankle sprain in the team's first game, according to Pereira, but still gutted it out for most of Waimea's first two games. He churned up an impressive 520 yards in those games.

Game 2 came against visiting Woodbridge High from Irvine, Calif. Dizon impressed Woodbridge head coach Rick Gibson: "He was a better running back than Mike Liti (who took a scholarship at Utah in 2003)," Gibson told one newspaper after his team's 25-20 loss.

Dizon came back late in the year for Waimea.

"We used him mostly on the outside at flanker because his ankle was bothering him," Pereira said. Dizon ran and threw for touchdowns in the final regular season game.

"He's a tremendous athlete," Pereira said. "He has God-given abilities. He can run with speed and power. He can catch, he can punt. He's just a multi-faceted athlete; someone you want in a program."

According to the coach, only a handful of football players have gone on to play at Division I schools in the past, but Dizon is among the two finest to come through school there. That may be changing in the future as Hawaii has instated a state-wide playoff system in recent years, allowing players from the smaller outlying high schools to be showcased in a playoff setting on "the big island."

"Now those smaller schools, even though they might not do as well in the playoffs, there might be a few athletes on those teams that get noticed because scouts and college coaches come down to watch," Pereira said.

Pereira said that CU coach Brian Cabral had become aware of Dizon two years ago because of the playoff system.

And, typical of the kind of athletes CU has gone after the past three recruiting cycles, Dizon has skills in the classroom as well. He even had strong interest from Ivy League schools Yale and Brown, as well as interest from Tennessee, Nebraska and Northwestern.

"His mom has a lot to do with that," Pereira said of Dizon's academic standing (3.6 GPA). "His mom is really a strong supporter, and she really gets after him also. Jordon has that inner-self thing, where he really wants to excel at any level, from school work to a pickup game. This boy really wants to succeed. But he's really humble too. I think he got that from his parents and his upbringing."

Dizon happened to be nearby when Pereira was being interviewed, and said he's looking forward to becoming a Buff. He plans to move to Boulder July 1.

Dizon played some linebacker this year early and said CU is looking at him on both sides of the ball.

"They haven't decided yet," he said. "They're talking about either linebacker or running back. I kind of like running back, but (I don't have a strong preference)."

He also said he was excited that two other Hawaiians — David Veikune and Tavita Thompson — had verbally committed to CU. Dizon had heard about Thompson's recent interest in visiting Arizona, and even talked to him as recently as Sunday.

"I hope he's not going (somewhere else)," Dizon said. "He's a big kid.

He also got the chance to see Coach Gary Barnett and his wife, Mary, last week when the couple were in Hawaii as Barnett was coaching in the Hula Bowl.

"We took them to eat some local food," Dizon said. "He ate some fish and fried noodles, but the wife ate a whole variety of stuff. She had Lau Lau (assorted meat wrapped in tropical Taro leaves), and she really liked it."

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