Imua football! Fans witness blowout win over Hana in first official game on Molokai in over 50 years

Hana got a hand on the jersey of Robert Ortiz-Traxler but could barely slow down the junior running back who ran for three touchdowns in Molokai’s dominating victory.

The 1960 Molokai football team was honored during halftime of Saturday’s game. From left: Milton Haliniak, Billy Buchanan, Larry Helm, Shane Adolpho (representing his father Carl Adolpho) and Larry Rawlins Jr. (representing Larry Rawlins Sr.).

Molokai’s past connected with its present on the high school gridiron on Saturday.

More than half a century ago Molokai hosted its last official, state-sanctioned football game. With the return of football on Saturday the connection to the past came full circle.

Members of the 1960 Molokai team in attendance participated in the pre-game coin toss as well as a halftime ceremony to make the connection complete. The community did its part by packing the high school parking lot with cheering fans.

Junior Noah Caparida ran over, under and through the Hana defense on his way to scoring two touchdowns and leading the team in rushing.

So what does an historic game like this mean to the Molokai community?

“I think it means a whole lot to them in terms of moving in a direction that we haven’t been going for 50 years,” said Molokai Head Coach Mike Kahale. “It was nice to recognize the guys from the 60’s; my father-in-law (Larry Helm) is one of them so that’s real special that he came out to do the coin toss.”

The boys on the field made sure the excited crowd keeps their eyes on the future. While Hana played tough and never gave up, in reality they had very little chance of winning.

The Dragons, playing their first season, brought 17 players, compared to the 30 who suited up for Molokai. While it is the first official season for all the Maui Interscholastic League teams competing in the eight-man football league, Molokai — along with St. Anthony and Seabury Hall — had two seasons of scrimmages to help prepare.

The Farmers controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage from the beginning on their way to a 42-0 win.

The first score for Molokai came on defense when Hana was forced to punt out of the end zone on their first possession. The snap went through the end zone resulting in a safety.

Freshman Alden Abafo had a few long runs and showed off his speed in the second half against Hana.

After losing the season opener 23-20 last week against Seabury, Molokai was taking nothing for granted. “We came in (against Seabury), quite honestly, a little overconfident and we got humbled a little bit,” said Kahale. “We lost a lot of guys from last year but we basically got kicked in the mouth and gave the game away with stupid mistakes and not executing. So when we looked back at the film it told the story of what really happened and we made the adjustments and stepped up and played really well.”

The scoring continued on the first play of Molokai’s first possession. Junior Noah Caparida ran through the middle 45 yards to paydirt. Sheyden-Wayne Kaholoaa made the first extra point through the field’s new goal posts that are less than two weeks old to push the lead to 9-0.

Junior Robert Ortiz-Traxler scored on Molokai’s next possession on a 35-yard reverse run. With 7 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first quarter Molokai already had a 15-0 lead.

Two minutes later a blocked Hana punt was recovered in the end zone by Kilo Kaawa-Gonzales. Another point-after kick made the score 22-0.

At this point, Kahale gave his younger, second string players plenty of game time. “Everyone got an opportunity to play, that’s always nice,” said Kahale.

Before halftime, Ortiz-Traxler would score two more touchdowns on runs of 8 and 40 yards to give Molokai a 36-0 lead.

Hana did a much better job moving the ball in the second half. The Dragons put together a couple of first downs before getting intercepted in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter the coach’s son, Kaimana Kahale, intercepted a Hana pass on the goal line. This made up for a dropped ball Kaimana had in the end zone in the first half.

Caparida capped the Molokai scoring with 33-yard run in the third quarter.

Despite the lopsided victory, Kahale had many kind words for Hana.

“We aloha the Hana team. They are a reflection of us,” said Kahale. “They have the same kind of athletes, the same ethnicity — a bunch of Hawaiians over there a bunch of Hawaiians over here — we really appreciate them. They’re in their first year, they’re just going to get better every year.

“We’re just happy to get our first home win, our first win, it’s nice to do that.”

Kahale also praised his wife Nichole for the work she has done to help return football to Molokai. “Being that my wife has really helped grow this program and build it, it was just nice to have that connection from the past to the present.”

For those unable to attend on Saturday, this coming Saturday is another chance to see Farmer football on Molokai. The team faces St. Anthony starting at noon at the high school field.


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