St. Anthony Trojans Open the 8-Man Football Season
By Chris Sugidono
Despite setbacks and changes over the past few years, St. Anthony will proudly wave the gold and blue in their first scrimmage of the season this Saturday.
The latest set back came when former coach Mike Victorino announced that he would be unable to continue as head coach this year because of personal reasons. Without a head coach, the Trojans needed to pull off another Hail Mary. Enter: Walter Kan Hai.
Kan Hai had served as the Kulumalu Football President and coached for seven years before he was asked to take the reigns.
“The school called me and asked if I could head the football team this year,” says Kan Hai. “I knew all of these kids when they were freshmen and even though my two sons go here, they needed a coach and I just love to coach regardless of which school it is.”
Another coach who has devoted much of his time to the Trojans over the years is Alika Delos Santos. The longtime Defensive Coordinator has a reputation for being tremendously passionate about football and the players. So passionate, that he occasionally rewards players with headbutts.
“I’ve calmed down over the years,” says Delos Santos. “I only gave one today.”
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Tylan Rogers is also a staff member who has spent a great deal of time with the team. Rogers worked as the trainer for Maui’s pro-baseball team, Na Koa Ikaika last year, but decided to accept St. Anthony’s offer to join their ohana. Along with his full-time duties as the team’s athletic trainer, he also serves as an assistant coach. Still, on top of all this he takes classes at UH Maui College in the morning.
“Working with St. Anthony has been great because the kids are so awesome,” says Rogers. “Over this past summer I worked out with them four days a week and it’s so cool to see all the guys lifting and having that bonding time as a team.”
The coaches aren’t the only saving grace for the football program.
Although the Trojans had only seven players show up at the first practice of this year, the numbers have more than doubled to around 18 strong. As sophomore Austin Kan Hai puts it, “guys are taking the sport seriously and not just showing up, for the sake of it. They want to win.”
Senior Morgan Dupont is one of those players who is looking to succeed, but even he was surprised to see the amount of support.
“I’m happy with the turnout, coming from such a small school. Seeing these guys sacrifice their time for the seniors, really meant a lot to us.”
Trojans football and the 8-man league has a bright future ahead of itself. St. Anthony Athletic Director Al Paschoal, is pleased with the progress that has been made this year and how it’s even turned some heads on neighboring islands.
“At our athletic conference this past summer we had a breakout session with a lot of the Athletic Directors,” says Paschoal. “There were questions of course, but they were surprised to see how together our act was.”
Paschoal and the league also look forward to being MIL sanctioned next year, further legitimizing the sport.
“There are people who understand the significance and importance of having this league, so I think the biggest challenge will be to getting that out to the public.”
The Trojans play the Spartans at 3pm this Saturday at St. Anthony.