Seabury Hall was one of the founding schools in the MIL 8-man football program in the early 2010s.
But the school did not have enough football players for the 2019 season and might not have a team for 2020.
Athletic director Scott Prather will still be seeing to it that — if there are enough players ready, willing and able — there will be 8-man football for the Spartans in 2020.
But it’s not a completely pressing thing, not something the AD wants to force if there is not enough interest.
“Our high school has about 300 kids with a large percentage of those girls,” Prather said. “The sports that are popular are volleyball, paddling, basketball. There’s not a lot of football guys at the moment.
“Over the last few years, the numbers have been dwindling. By the end of the 2018 season, we barely had enough for 8-man and it became a safety issue. We were losing bodies and then they couldn’t play other sports that they wanted to do in the winter. It went down to about 12 and where we were fearing injury on every play. It didn’t make sense to play under those circumstances. Safety is paramount. The challenge is to get 8-10 kids per class per year (a total of 32-40).”
Prather noticed that there are some “good football players” in Seabury Hall’s eighth-grade class who will be freshmen next season.
“That could possibly reinvigorate it,” he said. “In the spring, we will see what guys have projected that they want to play football, see which eighth-graders are interested and we’ll see if we can do this.”
Despite no 8-man team, there was some football being played on the Spartans’ campus this fall — flag football. There were also four competitions against athletes from St. Anthony.
“It was fun,” Prather said. “It’s football in a simpler sense. Some want to play tackle. Some don’t. We had 18 or 19 kids and some girls played. The contact was minimal. Freshmen running across the middle didn’t have to worry about getting hit hard.”
According to Prather, about 50 Seabury Hall kids play volleyball and 60 paddle, with about 30 in air riflery.
“We did flag football on a club basis,” he said. “We played St. Anthony, two home and two away. It’s like arena, fast-break football. It is possible that other, smaller schools could join up. It’s not expensive and you don’t need a huge number of people. All grades are represented and they’re all playing and scoring and having a good time.”
Seabury Hall won MIL 8-man championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014. That league is down to three teams now — Hana, Lanai and Molokai — and is in danger of extinction if any of the other schools start to struggle with the numbers game.
When the 8-man season ended in October, Molokai coach Mike Kahale, after winning a fifth straight MIL 8-man championship, talked about the future of the league and mentioned that he hoped Seabury Hall would eventually be back.
Another route for Molokai, which fields a robust roster, is to go up to 11-man. That move up happened in the BIIF for three teams — Ka’u, Kohala and Pahoa — in 2019.
Will that trend take hold on Maui?
Unwittingly, Seabury Hall — whether it returns to 8-man or not — may be one domino in the overall picture.