Mike Kahale was content to see the Molokai football program continue in eight-man football.
Kill Watson was a welcoming host when Molokai decided to play its first 11-man contest in more than a half-century at Nanakuli on Saturday night. A loyal and devout following of about 50 fans cheered the Farmers on.
In the midst of a 37-0 win by the host Golden Hawks, there were glimpses of what the Farmers could be in the coming years as the inevitable shift from eight-man to 11-man takes root. One was the ultimate gem in the rough, 6-2, 260-pound senior lineman Vaai Seumalo.
No. 76 in the white jersey and green pants was a nuisance for Nanakuli, showing up in the backfield to curb some of the Hawks’ ground game. He also played offensive line and was the long snapper on punts.
Not bad for a kid playing his first organized football game. Kahale called Seumalo the biggest surprise of the game.
Seumalo had played basketball and volleyball for the Farmers in his first three years of high school. He had to negotiate with his father to make this dream of playing football come true. That was earlier this summer.
“I pretty much begged him. I kept begging him and he said he would take it up with my mom,” Seumalo said. “It’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’ve always helped my dad. We have a farm.”
That makes him truly country strong. Watson, who knows quite well was good line play is about, tipped his cap to Seumalo. He was surprised to hear Seumalo had never played a game on the gridiron before.
“Wow. I try not to put into what path a player should go on. From the outside, I’d say keep working hard with whatever’s in front of you. He was all over the field,” Watson said. “He can move, so I’d be pretty excited to see him as a guard pulling out. That’s what I love about Molokai. I only spent 30 minutes talking with their kids (before the game) and they’re such down-to-earth kids. They’re a bunch of great kids.”
Despite the score, this was not the typical Division II type of runaway. For one thing, despite still being an official eight-man team, Molokai is playing just two 11-man games this season. The next one is next weekend at Kamehameha-Maui. In addition, Nanakuli didn’t run as well as it had hoped, finishing with 101 yards on 26 carries. Respectable numbers, especially by linebacker-turned-quarterback Sedric Crawford, who rushed for 89 yards and passed for 254 more with a whopping five TD strikes.
But the play of Molokai’s front seven was a big reason why the game never felt like a blowout until the second half.