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St. Anthony plans to play 8-man football exhibition games on Maui


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POSTED: Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eight-man football in the state tournament?

Not quite, but a first step in that direction was made on Friday when St. Anthony announced that it would not play this fall as an 11-man football squad. Instead, the program will field an eight-man team and play exhibition games.

The Maui Interscholastic League, now down to five varsity teams, will likely play a double round-robin format.

The change was pragmatic. Since losing transfers last year, St. Anthony has struggled to field a team, even with occasional supplements from Seabury Hall. Eight-man football may allow leagues to field teams from small schools. It could open a door for Seabury Hall, Kaahumanu Hou, Kihei Charter, Hana and Molokai.

Pop Warner football was revived on Molokai a few years ago. Kaahumanu Hou has fielded teams before, but dropped out due to lack of players.

On Oahu, public-school (Oahu Interscholastic Association) programs are unlikely to consider eight-man football. Kalani has invigorated its program with large JV numbers. Kailua, Kaiser, Kalaheo, Nanakuli and Waialua had lower enrollments than Kalani in '08, but all fielded competitive football teams.

The Interscholastic League of Honolulu is composed of many smaller schools. Some send their football players to the league's conglomerate team, Pac-Five, but transportation from members like Hanalani (Mililani) and Island Pacific (Kapolei) to the practice field (Mid-Pacific in Manoa) is always a challenge.

Hawaii Baptist athletic director Deren Oshiro doesn't see eight-man football in his school's future.

“;Even though we're bigger than 10, 12 teams in our league, I don't think we would have the numbers,”; Oshiro said. “;This past year, we had five or six boys (playing for Pac-Five).”;

Pac-West, a combo team of athletes from Christian Academy, Hanalani, Hoala, Island Pacific and Lanakila Baptist—four of the five being West and Central Oahu schools—could have a football program some day.

On the Big Island, eight-man football has been discussed but widely cast off as a poor alternative in the collective opinion of proud communities. Last year, Ka'u managed to field a varsity team in 11-man football under former star player Jonathan Roddy. Pahoa, though, has not fielded a team in several years.

Ka'u, which has been on and off the gridiron over the years, had as many as 28 players in uniform last season. The numbers dwindled, though, and the Trojans fielded 18 to 19 players at times.

Roddy thinks eight-man football would be ideal.

“;It would probably work with our numbers,”; said Roddy, 32, a former star linebacker at Ka'u. “;But they (wouldn't) have anybody to play, and from what I've seen, the school and athletic department would want to stick with 11-man football.”;

Roddy was not rehired this year by athletic director Keith Morioka.

Other schools that may be interested: Makua Lani, one of the newer schools, has a solid Division II baseball team; Laupahoehoe, has a enrollment of less than 100; Ke Ana La'ahana, in Hilo; and Christian Liberty, which has teams in boys soccer and volleyball.