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Fall Sports at the Ready

Summer may be behind us, but there’s plenty to look forward to this fall on the Molokai High School (MHS) sports scene. The Farmers will compete in four fall sports and all of the teams are entering their season with high hopes.

Football

Months of offseason workouts, weightlifting and training are coming into play as Molokai High’s eight-man football team begins practice this season.

In 2012, MHS football became a Maui Interscholastic League (MIL)-sanctioned sport for the first time in 50 years. Since then, six teams have joined the eight-man playing field and the MIL will be welcoming its newest additions, Lanai and Kihei Charter schools, this year. The MIL has also instituted a new playoff system culminating in a championship game at War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku on Nov. 6.

Football Coach Mike Kahale said he’s excited about the new teams joining and looks forward to the upcoming season. He said he hopes to grow the sport of eight-man football and get to play against other non-league opponents in the future. Three schools on Hawaii Island are looking to field eight-man teams soon, Kahale said.

“This is awesome because it lends credibility to what we’ve been trying to accomplish the last five years,” Kahale said. “The opportunity to play this great sport should be afforded to everyone. We’ve overcome tremendous challenges and obstacles to build a quality program.”

Kahale is heading into his third year as head coach.  Two years before that, he was the head coach of MHS’ club football team before he helped make the sport official.

About 40 athletes are on this season’s roster—60 percent of whom are freshmen and sophomores—breaking the record of highest number of players in MHS football history, according to Kahale. Star athletes returning this year include junior starting receiver and defensive back Kaimana Kahale, and King Kahana-Kalua, a senior linebacker and backup quarterback. Additionally, this may be a breakout year for sophomore quarterback John-Michael Mokiao-Duvachelle, Kahale predicted.

Last season, the team lost the last home game to Seabury and was unable to score a tiebreaker playoff, making the only two losses last season to Seabury. The team is working on its offense, passing more during games and implementing new defensive schemes, Kahale said.

“Our main goal each year is to win the MIL,” Kahale said.

The first game will be Sept. 13 on Lanai, followed by a match against Seabury on Sept. 18 at War Memorial.

Volleyball

Girls Volleyball is in full swing with the team preparing to host the very first MIL Division II Championships at Molokai High Oct. 22-25. According to Coach Mahea Rawlins, the championship is good for the Molokai community and builds a stronger fan base.

“It’s [great] to have the first MIL volleyball tournament here on Molokai for our community, where we are big in volleyball and high school sports,” Rawlins said. “It should be an interesting experience and our fans and family will be able to watch us and offer their support here at home instead of having to travel.”

Rawlins said her girls are excited and working hard in anticipation for the tournament. Practice began last Thursday and the team’s main goal to make it to the MIL playoffs, Rawlins said.

The team of 14 girls brought on five freshman and two sophomores this year, after losing six seniors last season.

Despite having a young team, Rawlins said she is confident the players will learn and grow together and have a good season.

“It’s going to be a lot of hard work considering we have a lot of freshman, but they’re coachable and work hard day in and day out,” Rawlins said. “They come to practice with a good spirit, a great attitude and always push themselves. Hopefully they’ll continue to give 110 percent every day so we can reach our goal. It’s a good feeling right now.”

The first home game of the season at the Barn will be Sept. 5 and 6 against Maui Prep.

Air Riflery

Ready. Aim. Shoot. It’s the routine repeated by Molokai High’s boys and girls air riflery as they prepare for the fall season.

New to MHS this year, girls air riflery coach Chinky Hubbard brings a seven-year background of working as a firearms instructor and police officer for the Molokai Police Department (MPD). Also fresh on the scene, boys coach Daniel Imakyure carries experience as a MPD police officer and National Rifle Association fire instructor with military-based training.

“It’ll be interesting to see how both me and Chinky’s experience can translate over to the sport to help the kids,” Imakyure said. “We’re running through the basics and getting a feel for the kids and their capabilities and going from there. We have a lot of students returning this year who are good shooters and I cannot see why they can’t continue progress and be better.”

Imakyure will coach nine boys, while Hubbard will lead 15 girls on the team. This year, the boys have an even divide between new versus old teammates. The girl’s team welcomed back 10 returning and five new shooters. The coaches said they agree that the team has great potential and is doing well so far in practice.

MHS air riflery also scored new guns and accessory equipment this year. In the past, the team operated with limited resources and used, old equipment. The new equipment will put Molokai High’s air riflery in closer par with its competitors this season, Imakyure said.

Every air riflery shoot this year will be held off-island. The team’s first competition will be Aug. 30 at Baldwin High on Maui. Hubbard said he looks forward to qualifying for MIL and States. Last year, one girl and one boy competed at the state level.

“The girls perform really well and have a good showing at the MIL championship,” Hubbard said. “I’m hoping a majority of the girls and boys qualify at the MILs this year and that we will get four to compete at the state championship.”

Cross Country

Boys and Girls Cross Country Coach Mahina Hou Ross said he’d like to take the whole team to states –with a scoring team of at least five runners.

Ross has been coaching the boys for 15 years, but this is his first year coaching the girls as well. He said he’s not sure what to expect out of the fall season but remains hopeful.

“I [am optimistic] for the boy’s team and hopefully we can get the whole team to states,” Ross said. “The girls are working hard and shooting to qualify for states. It has been eight years since we’ve qualified so it’s a big accomplishment to strive for.”

The team has 20 runners this year. There are eight girls and 12 boys on the team, with five seniors returning, one junior and the other half made up of freshmen and sophomores.

Ross said MHS cross country has a good chance of qualifying in the tops seats at MIL DII Championship. Last season MHS had one state qualifier and one alternate, but didn’t compete at states. This year, five seniors and juniors are trying to qualify for states as a team, and four others as individuals, Ross said.

All of the races this season will be on Maui with the first competition on Aug. 30at King Kekaulike Complex Schools.

Ross is doing a leg on the three-year worldwide Hokulea voyage and won’t be around during the MIL and State Championships, but said another MHS coach will fill in his spot.

“We have high hopes for them this year,” Ross said. “We want a healthy season where nobody gets hurt, everyone keeps up their grades, drops their times and does well in the MIL championship.”

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