Leilehua football coach Nolan Tokuda got some laughs from coaches and players as he addressed both teams at midfield after the Mules’ 65-6 victory over the visiting Vincent Massey Trojans on Friday night.
“Next time, we’ll go up there and play you guys in hockey, right?” Tokuda said.
The Trojans (0-1) hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and some of the players also play ice hockey, which is considered a national sport in Canada.
The two teams ate a pregame meal together before the televised contest at Hugh Yoshida Stadium and, according to Tokuda, formed lasting friendships during the week leading up to the game.
The OC 16 telecast was picked up by stations in Manitoba, according to Vincent Massey coach Kelsey McKay.
“There’s a lot of people in Canada who were watching this game and I can tell you they know who Leilehua is now,” McKay said.
Even without the score to remind him, McKay was clearly aware that his team lost to a higher-caliber opponent.
“This will help us for when we start our season,” he said. “It was an exhibition game. There were a lot of teachable moments and we’ll take some of that home with us.”
McKay, a longtime coach who has been with Vincent Massey since it started its football program five years ago, said playing a team like Leilehua with “great tradition and great discipline,” and seeing how the Mules go about the business of football will have a lasting effect on his program.
“I’ve already picked up on some things that coach Nolan does and our players have learned some things regarding sportsmanship that they will start to do when we return to Canada.”
One such example, McKay said, is the practice of a defensive player helping an offensive player to his feet after a tackle.
McKay said he likes to schedule tough nonconference opponents like Hawaii’s sixth-ranked Mules.
“We went to L.A. a few years ago to play a team there and we have scheduled some interprovincial games. It’s great cultural learning opportunities for the kids. And playing opponents of a higher level, you can only get better.”
Both head coaches, Tokuda and McKay, were thrilled that every player on the rosters got into the game.