Go to The Molokai News Facebook page to see an extensive photo album from Saturday’s game: www.facebook.com/TheMolokaiNews
The Molokai High School football team opened the season with a dominating performance against Seabury Hall in a controlled scrimmage held Saturday at the high school.
Given the smaller size of the Seabury team, made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, nobody on either side of the field was surprised by the lopsided result in the 8-man football game. Last year Seabury, played exclusively in a passing league format and this game represented their first game of full contact tackle football.
But with only one full contact game last year — a home exhibition game against St. Anthony — Molokai was not that far ahead of Seabury in experience. Seeing the cohesiveness of the Farmers on the field, it looked as if the team had played more than just one game of tackle football.
“I think it was a complete team effort, a lot of guys stepped up,” said Head Coach Mike Kahale after the game. “I’m more than pleased with their effort and their intensity, they came out big time.
“With that being said, there are some things that we still need to work on,” Kahale continued. “We got to make sure we take care of all the little details. I was really impressed with the offensive line today. That was one concern I had. They came up big and they controlled the line of scrimmage and that allowed us to move the ball downfield. They opened up big holes and gave the quarterback time to throw the ball.”
Senior starting quarterback Keola DeMello presented a balanced attack of passing and running that kept Seabury confused all game. DeMello used his speed to gain the corner and score several touchdowns.
“He played real well,” said Kahale about DeMello. “Little things to work on; he’s a small, fast guy, he doesn’t have height to look downfield but he completed a couple of passes on target and he’s just quick around the corner.”
Molokai took the opening kickoff and scored four plays later on a Noah Caparida end run. In the scrimmage format, each team took 12 straight snaps regardless of first downs earned.
Because of the format, the Farmers only kicked the ball off once and neither team punted. On Seabury’s first possession, Molokai forced numerous fumbles with big hits and recorded at least four interceptions.
“The defense, I knew they were going to be tough from the get go,” said Kahale. “They just proved to me in the game what they prove every day in practice.”
Also scoring for Molokai was Jayven Tabilangan, Jordan Kamali’i, Jason Pa’aluhi and Sheyden Kaholoaa, among others. Score was not kept, but if it had, Kahale speculates that it might have been close to 65-0.
But the team still has plenty more room for improvement if they are going to match up well against a bigger and stronger St. Anthony team Oct. 1 on Maui.
“We’re going to have to work on our passing game,” said Kahale. “We are a run heavy team because that’s where we have the athletes and they did well, but I would really like to implement a little more pass plays.”
“The boys got a taste of what it was today, I’m hoping that this just gets them a little bit more excited to be at practice every day and give a little bit more of an effort,” he added.
Football on Molokai is about more than just banging pads on the gridiron. For many of the 30 players, the game keeps them focused and in school. “Football is just that carrot that motivates them to do well in class. I didn’t have one athlete who didn’t make grade check,” said Kahale.
According to Kahale, the kids who play football typically have a little bit tougher time in class. “I’m pleased, not just on the field, I’m pleased with how they are turning things around in the school. Obviously we got to work on some things, but if they didn’t have football a lot of these kids would not be passing their classes.”
Football clearly offers an important outlet for the players. “We don’t have too many social outlets here on Molokai and idle time often becomes evil time for a lot of these kids,” said Kahale. “If we can keep them focused on something that’s positive then we’re going to use up that time and really give them something valuable here instead of just hanging out at home or in town.”
“I’m proud of the kids. I’m happy and pleased that they have the opportunity to play football because they deserve it,” said Kahale.
Kahale also wanted to thank the Molokai community for the support it has shown. T-shirts and concessions that will support the travel expenses of the team were almost completely sold out.
“I’m just pleased with the community coming out and supporting us,” said Kahale. “There were hundreds of people, all these cars … it was an awesome day.”
After the Oct. 1 game, the Farmers travel to Maui for another game two weeks later. On Oct. 22 they will play their next home game against St. Anthony using regular game rules.