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Pahoa HS Shows Interest in 8-Man Football for 2014

April 21, 2014, 3:48 PM HST
* Updated April 21, 5:29 PM
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Pahoa High School is hoping to end a 15-year football hiatus by jumping into the growing trend of 8-man football.

Darlene Bee, principal of Pahoa High School, told Big Island Now Monday that her school is “absolutely” interested in competing in 8-man football this coming season. The interest has been brought up among Big Island Interscholastic Federation membership.

“We’ve actually been interested for many years to put football together,” Bee said today. “We went through extensive processes of trying to get on board with that. When we heard about the 8-man football, because we couldn’t generate 11-man football, we were interested in doing that as well.”

Bee believes that the Daggers have not fielded a football program since the 1999 season. Principals before her have tried to get football going with no success, but she says she is the first to try to push for the 8-man version at her school.

“We tried to generate it like three to four years after that, but that didn’t go through with one principal,” Bee explained. “Another principal tried to talk to council members and things, but that didn’t go through. When it came to me, I went through the same process of talking to council members, but it still came to the same thing. We didn’t have enough funding.”

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Funding a program that has been dormant for over a decade could prove to be the biggest challenge. Bee says that start-up costs are estimated at $76,000 to run an 8-man program. She says it would take another $14,000 to sustain the program every year.

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The Pahoa Booster Club, Bee says, is the group that has been tasked with trying to raise money for athletics for schools in the area, including charter schools. According to Big Island Chronicle last month, representative Tiffany Edwards Hunt flew to Oahu to to testify in front of lawmakers about releasing money for the football program.

Mark Hinshaw, president of the Pahoa Booster Club, was not immediately available for comment.

Until funding is released, the school can’t officially sign kids up for the sport. Bee did take a poll of current students (excluding seniors) to gauge interest in 8-man football.

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“What we found was that out of 450 students, I think we had interest from about 130,” Bee stated. “Interest and sign-up are two different things because we did that and went through an extensive process. It was ready for sign-up a few years ago and only 10 students signed up for our 11-man football team so we couldn’t go forward.”

Eight-Man football started on the Big Island last year after Ka`u and Kohala dropped its 11-man football teams because of low numbers. Ka`u started an 8-man program and began competing against several Maui Interscholastic League schools and junior varsity BIIF teams.

Kohala could not field an 8-man football team last year, but athletic director Laurie Koustik says that her school is committed to it this year.

“Our enrollment kinda dictates that,” Koustik said Monday. “I spoke to my principal (Janette Snelling). She’s really on board with the 8-man. She doesn’t feel that we really have an enrollment for a full, regular 11-man football team. I think that’s the direction we’d like to pursue.

“We’d like to see how this goes for us,” Koustik continued. “From my understanding, I guess it really kinda took off in Ka`u last year. Everybody really liked it, and so I can see us definitely making a commitment for at least two or three years. I’m not sure that we would ever get back to being able to have the numbers for 11-man football.”

Both Ka`u and Kohala have stated its intentions to field an 8-man team for this year, although the decision isn’t finalized until the league’s participation deadline, which doesn’t come up for another couple of months.

Adding a third team would be big for the league. BIIF executive director Lyle Crozier says that it takes three teams to officially make 8-man football a league sport. That would allow the BIIF to sanction a championship game later in the year.

In the most recent draft of the league’s schedule, only Kohala and Ka`u are listed as 8-man football schools. Koustik said that they are scheduled to play a home-and-home series against one another, but will still compete against junior varsity programs from other schools.

Only the MIL currently sanctions 8-man football in the state. It takes three leagues to sanction the sport for it to be recognized by the Hawai`i High School Athletic Association.

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