8-man football: The little dream that could

A little more on eight-man football, which got rolling in the MIL two years ago and became an official, sanctioned sport in that league this weekend. See more on eight-man football in Tuesday’s Star-Advertiser prep notebook.

The BIIF would gain tremendously from eight-man football, but the biggest hurdle is lack of education. In the 1990s, spurred by my city editor at West Hawaii Today, Bobby Command, I asked a few of the smaller schools — coaches, alumni — about eight-man football. Though many of them were struggling with numbers, almost all of them immediately stiff-armed the idea of eight-man.

But today? The AD at Kohala, Laurie Koustik, is interested. The school has a van than would save them a lot of money on bus rentals if there were an 8-man league.


Other schools in the BIIF that might eventually get interested: Parker, Makua Lani, Pahoa, Laupahoehoe. Even Kohala and Ka‘u might be better off in 8-man. But if there’s no desire, forget it.

A few ILH ADs at smaller schools met and talked with MIL 8-man organizers at the ADs conference last June.

“They put their name in the hat,” St. Anthony AD Albert Paschoal said. “They were all over it at HIADA. We had lengthy conversations.”

My guess is that the potential eight-man teams in the ILH could be Lanakila Baptist, Island Pacific, Hanalani, Christian Academy. Basically, those are the West side private schools. It might hurt Pac-Five’s numbers a bit, but for those kids who commute after school, it’s challenge to get through town-side traffic that starts at Mapunapuna. There’s already West-Pac, which is the west-side version of Pac-Five for some sports, and they might have their own 11-man football team in time.

But as school pride is special, which is why 8-man is intriguing — and loaded with obstacles.

Pluses:

• Transportation: Car pool or school vans are sufficient since teams can be as small as 12-15 players.

• Facilities: A 40×80 field isn’t absolutely necessary for practice, but that smaller size should make it a bit easier to access City and County fields — if they cooperate.


• Concession: Snack bars at game sites will help with costs for these small schools. Every dollar counts.

• A single game site: Maybe the Oahu (ILH) teams can use one site for all games and host doubleheaders there. That would make it easier to rope off and collect admission revenue.

Minsues:

• Image: 8-man is big on the mainland in rural areas, producing college and a few pro players, but not many people in Hawaii know about it.

• Referees: Because there’s a limited pool, 8-man games would usually be played on other days and/or times. The MIL is playing on some Thursday nights and Saturday mid-days.

• Cost: Seabury Hall went out and bought all-brand new equipment three years ago, but will other programs be willing to do that? Access to quality, slightly used gear is key for these smaller schools.

• Field equipment/etc: Hana spent about $1,200 on portable goalposts.

The old “If you build it, they will come” mindset is in play.


“Chad Kauhaahaa really legitimized it,” Paschoal said of the former Baldwin coach, who is now on staff at the University of Utah. “He said their best offensive lineman comes from an eight-man team. He feels it’s a legitimate sport.”

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser

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