The Molokai High School football team begins its second season on Saturday when Seabury Hall comes to Molokai.
The game begins at 11:30 a.m. at the field across the street from the high school. Like last year’s scrimmage against St. Anthony, it will be played on an 80-yard field with no goal posts and only two-point conversions after touchdowns.
Unlike last year, the field is mostly green and the Farmers have their own uniforms. St. Anthony provided the pads and helmets for last year’s exhibition. The other games on Maui last year were played in a passing league format.
This year the game will definitely be tackle football. Because 8-man football is not yet sanctioned by the Maui Interscholastic League, the games will be considered scrimmages. Next year — the final probationary year — the MIL will make football an official league sport that will include a state championship.
“We have definitely made a lot of progress,” said Head Coach Mike Kahale. This year the team has had six weeks to practice in full pads. “Our intent this year is to be full contact so that’s how we started.”
The team received donations of shoulder pads, knee pads and thigh pads through various schools and organizations, including Punahou School on Oahu. The team did purchase new helmets for most of the 30 players on the team. “There is just no way we would be able to fill the team with brand new uniforms top to bottom this year,” said Kahale.
As a team, Kahale feels they are beginning to gel. “We won’t find out where we are clicking until we face another opponent. Our defense is looking really really strong. Our offense, we need to work on executing and taking care of the little details. But overall it’s coming together, especially this past week.
“The kids are excited like crazy, they’re ready to face someone besides themselves,” he added.
Kahale said he is really “curious” to see how his projected starters do against Seabury. “Everyone is fighting for positions, competition is always real fierce. We’ll see which individuals step up.”
When the Farmers offense takes the field for the first time, senior Keola DeMello will be taking snaps under center. Kahale will start DeMello but plans to try a few different players at quarterback.
The format of Saturday’s game will be a controlled scrimmage. This means there will be no punts or punt returns but each team will run 12 plays before switching from offense to defense. The format also provides opportunities for the second and third string players from both teams to go against each other.
Kahale said he would have preferred a “full on” game but Seabury wanted this format because it is a young team. “They’re still new at this,” said Kahale. “They didn’t practice in full pads at all last year.” The team started with just freshmen and sophomores last year and this year only has a few juniors and no seniors.
But Kahale is not underestimating Seabury, which turned out 20-plus students for its team. “They are very athletic in all the other sports so I don’t see why they wouldn’t have their real good athletes out for football,” he said.
Kahale hopes the Molokai community comes out Saturday to support the team. Because football is not yet sanctioned, the players must pay for their own travel expenses when they go to Maui twice this season. The Farmers will be selling T-shirts and will also hold a Krispy Kreme fundraiser to cover these expenses. The first road game is Oct. 1 against St. Anthony.