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Ready, Set, Hike!

Football returns to Molokai after 50 years.

Get your cleats ready, Molokai, because the streak is over. After a 50 year hiatus, Molokai High School football is back in the lineup and will take to the field this fall.

“It’s going to be big,” said Mike Kahale, a social studies teacher at Molokai Middle School. “Our kids have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time.”

Kahale, head coach of the team, said he and his wife had been developing a strategic plan to bring back high school-level football for the past two years, and is finally becoming a reality.

“There is already a lot of talk about it,” he added. “We have about 44 kids signed up.”

One of the biggest obstacles, Kahale said, was finding the funds to purchase football equipment. But with a $2,000 equipment grant from USA Football, among other donations, the team will be ready to kick off its three-year football plan.

Eight Ball
Although securing the funds for a traditional 11-man team was a stretch, it didn’t mean the sport couldn’t exist at all. This past year, smaller schools in Maui County began looking into an eight-man football league – which was recently sanctioned by the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) to include Molokai, Seabury Hall and St. Anthony high schools.

Eight-man football has gained popularity in many rural areas on the mainland and allows small schools with small budgets a chance to play football.

Since the league doesn’t have the finances to cover tackle football off the bat, it will start small and slowly expand. The first year will be a passing league with full padding incorporated the second year, and full MIL sanctioning expected in the third year.

“It’s the only way to make it financially feasible,” Kahale said. “It’s a great way to introduce football fundamentals and to actually start. Why wait until next year?”

Grassroots
The 1960-61 Farmers were the last high school football team on Molokai. Despite lacking a program, Molokai produced professional football player Kimo “Scooby” Von Oelhoffen. He played at the University of Hawaii and Boise State before starting a 15-year NFL career. Although Von Oelhoffen never played on Molokai, he did commit to helping out the new program financially, but has yet to discuss dollars and cents with Kahale.

Still, more money needs to be raised to help pay for travel costs, field maintenance and additional equipment. Resting on the coattails of major budget cuts for high school sports, the program seeks financial support from the community, businesses and organizations.

Tax deductible donations can be made through Friends of Molokai High and Intermediate. Kahale is also looking for help with coaching – preferably those with some high school or college football coaching experience.

For more information contact Kahale at 658-0834 or e-mail at mikekahale@yahoo.com.

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