Molokai Football Gets Historic Win
By Rick Schonely, Sports Reporter
The Molokai Farmers Football team traveled to Maui last Friday for a controlled scrimmage with the Na Ali’i of King Kekaulike High School. Head Coach Mike Kahale and his staff and players made history by winning 22-8 and got their first 11-man football victory in the school’s history. Molokai won the Maui Interscholastic League’s eight-man championship title for five straight years before having no league football for the past two years because of the pandemic.
The MIL eight-man season was set to move forward this year but after Hana and Lani football teams cancelled their teams this season due to COVID restrictions, Kahale secured this one and only game and road trip for his team. They switched gears and immediately began preparing for the 11-man game.
“Our final week of practice was filled with so much excitement and anticipation for this matchup that we needed to temper some of the emotions our athletes were feeling this past week so that we could remain focused and locked in,” said Kahale.
Just getting to travel and put on their uniforms for a real game had Kahale and his team excited.
“As much as possible, prior to game time, we try to treat it as a business trip and focus on the task at hand…. but so many of these boys have been cooped up due to the pandemic and have ‘cabin fever.’ Options to eat out, shop, and all the other stimuli….it can be a challenge. Playing in our first ‘game’-like scenario, our team performed at a high level.”
The Farmers came to play with a full squad and 13 seniors playing their first and last game of the season. A limited number of spectators were able to attend, and many Molokai parents and fans made the trip to see the historic victory.
“I was especially proud of our defensive effort. Not only were they stout up front, but they also put points on the board for us,” said Kahale. “Iokona Florendo had a pick six in the first half and Kamana Kanuha had another in the second half that was unfortunately called back on a penalty. John Quintua-Salavea and Saven Kaahanui both had interceptions in the game. Heno Kaiama had a handful of sacks and tackles for losses. Huge credit goes to our defense coordinator, Jason Aiana, and secondary coach Kaimana Kahale for putting together a great defensive plan.”
With only three weeks of preparation for an 11-man game, Molokai started slow but then got in a groove and executed nicely to take a 22-0 lead at the half.
“Offensively we struggled to start but eventually found a rhythm and the end zone,” said Kahale. “Quarterback Angelo Duvauchelle found Iokona Florendo on a deep touchdown pass. Later in the first half he also connected with Clarence Tanabe on a deep ball where he was tackled at the one-yard line. Nakoa Orlando punched the ball in on the next play. Kahakoi Lopez also found the end zone on a couple of two-point conversions. Gavin Ainoa and Tonka Kalilikane also provided balance with a good rushing game.”
It was a very emotional game for Molokai’s 13 seniors, Duvauchelle, Florendo, Kaahanui, Ainoa, Kanuha, Kaiama, Jaydon Kaupu, Austin Kaalekahi, Shiloh Caparida, Braxton DeMello, Sean Kohl Solatorio-Kamai, Charles Lehi Kahaleauki and Leo Nalu Kalipi. Kahale and his staff knew how much this game meant to them and the entire team.
“All in all, it was a wonderful team effort. I am so proud of our boys and coaching staff,” said Kahale. “Huge shout out to our Athletic Director, Lee DeRouin, for supporting us and making this game a possibility. Additionally, I want to thank King Kekaulike’s head coach, Tyson Valle and Athletic Director PK Higa. They were overly gracious and great hosts. We hope to welcome them to Molokai one day and host them for a home game.”
Though it wasn’t how the team envisioned the season ending, the historic 11-man win was a positive, and the future holds even better things.
“It surely wasn’t the season that we had hoped for,” said Kahale. “But we were blessed to have this time with our boys. Soon they will be men, husbands, fathers and community leaders. We hope that we’ve had a positive impact on them, and they can look back fondly on their experience as part of our Molokai High School Football Ohana.”