By Chris Sugidono
With the school year upon us, the hype is already growing around high schools such as Baldwin and Lahainaluna as they get ready for yet another football season. Seabury Hall, however, will be getting ready for a different brand of football.
For the first time in school history, Seabury will field their own football team and compete against Molokai and St. Anthony in a full-contact 8-man football league. This follows the success of last year’s 5-on-5 passing league, as well as St. Anthony and Molokai’s full-contact exhibition game.
The proposal came from longtime Athletic Director Steve Colflesh and Headmaster Joseph Schmidt after St. Anthony announced they would no longer play 11-man football, but instead participate in 8-man.
“We felt like we needed something to do in the fall for the boys,” says Colflesh. “The [MIL] moved volleyball to the spring, so cross-country was the only sport.”
The biggest difference between 11-man and 8-man football is the subtraction of two offensive linemen and a wide receiver on offense, and two defensive backs and a defensive lineman on defense. The field size is smaller with leagues normally playing on 80-yard-long by 40-yard-wide fields. The game is also shortened to 12-minute quarters from 15. (Correction: All high school football leagues play with 12-minute quarters)
The fact that teams can play with only a dozen players makes the sport more accessible to smaller schools like Seabury. With that in mind and assisted by dedicated boosters, Schmidt and Colflesh proceeded to create a long-term plan for the football program. If the interest level in their first year was high enough, they’d buy uniforms and equipment in the second year. Now that 18 solid players have joined their ranks, Seabury has been outfitted with brand new equipment and a brand new sport.
In previous years, Seabury has played alongside St. Anthony and Kaahumanu Hou to form the Pac-3 Titans. St. Anthony had been battling low enrollment and a lack of students interested in football, so they reached out to the two schools. Although Seabury and Kaahumanu Hou sent upwards of 15 players in the first two years, the number of players who stuck with the team steadily dropped.
By their last year, only one player from the two schools remained on the team.
Whether or not 8-man football survives, Seabury is committed to keeping football at the school. Seabury football coach Andrew Burger sees promise in the schools program saying, “The biggest thing for Seabury to keep football is to get boys interested in the sport. Last year, when we started the passing league, we had a very athletic group of eighth grade boys coming in, and we knew these guys wanted to play football. We also had a pretty athletic freshman class at the time.”
Because Seabury has no seniors and only one junior, Burger feels that the team will only add players in the future. “We have enough gear for 36 guys and I eventually see the program growing to where there might be even a need to move up.”
But the biggest problem standing in their way might not have to do with interest. “Our freshman class has around 50 girls and 25 boys,” says Burger. “So it’s been a little difficult getting more players.”
Recruiting will pose as a difficult challenge for the small school. Luckily for Burger, school has started and plenty of fresh faces are milling around campus. He excuses himself from his office.
“I’ve got to track down some freshman and introduce myself.”
Seabury Hall opens their season at St. Anthony on September 3rd in a controlled scrimmage.
See complete schedule (subject to change)