There were a lot of “firsts” for Molokai High School football when the Friday night lights came on at War Memorial Stadium:
• The 6:30 p.m. kickoff against Seabury Hall was the first sanctioned eight-man high school football game every played in Hawaii. The eight-man format is popular at small and rural high schools on the mainland. The game represents the culmination of a three-year plan between Molokai, Seabury and St. Anthony high school organizations to bring eight-man football to Hawaii.
• After two years of scrimmages against Maui schools, Friday’s game was the first ‘official’ Molokai High School football team game since 1959.
• Although Molokai lost 23-20, it was the first Maui Interscholastic League game of the season.
• It was the first time the team has ever played a night game under lights.
• Molokai junior Noah Caparida scored the first-ever MIL points on a 26-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper 3 minutes and 50 seconds into the game. It was followed by the first miss of a point-after-touchdown.
Seabury struck soon after on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Palmer. They made the first-ever PAT to take a 7-6 lead heading into the second quarter.
Seabury scored the only other points of the first half on an interception run back 10 yards for a touchdown. Both teams then traded interceptions but no other points were scored before halftime.
Seabury opened the scoring in the third quarter with a 20-yard field goal.
Caparida followed with Molokai’s second touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. A 2-point conversion by Davin Spencer-Basa was good. Score: 17-14 Seabury.
Seabury scored one more touchdown in the third quarter with a 14-yard pass from Jaxon Stinger to Kieanu Catugal.
The Farmers scored the only points of the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run by Robert Ortiz-Traxler. After the failed 2-point conversion Seabury led by the final score of 23-20. The Farmers had one last chance after a blocked punt by Spencer-Basa gave them the ball at the Seabury 44 yard line. Molokai could not convert and turned the ball over on downs to end its final threat.
Molokai Head Coach Mike Kahale has put many years of hard work into the planning and preparation for this first game. He expressed his anticipation before the game in an interview with The Maui News:
“We have always been excited about football for the past two years and we have prepared like everything has been legitimate and real,” Kahale said. “But this year there has definitely been some extra excitement — the opportunity to play at War Memorial, Friday night lights, with the crowd, in that venue. The kids are just pumped for this weekend.
“To be quite honest, it was kind of rough in the beginning, to get the kids to execute and run the plays correctly, but this past week things have been clicking on all cylinders. We feel really confident.”
Last year Seabury traveled to Molokai for a scrimmage. Although score was not kept, Molokai demolished Seabury by an estimated score of 65-0. Since then, Seabury has improved while Molokai lost several athletic and talented seniors to graduation.
But even with a first game loss, expect Molokai to be a young, competitive team in the MIL all season.
This Saturday will mark another first when Molokai hosts its first regulation home game. The goal posts are up and the field in Hoolehua is ready for action. Hana will be visiting for the noon start.
The following week, Sept. 29, Molokai has another home game against St. Anthony. Molokai will have a chance for revenge against Seabury on Oct. 20 at home. All games begin at noon.
On the road this season, the Farmers will face Hana Oct. 13 at Hana; and Oct. 25, St. Anthony at 6:30 p.m. at Maui War Memorial Stadium.
If you can’t make it out to the high school field, you can view games live online at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/molokai-high-school-football#.