St. Anthony High School was an inaugural member of the Maui Interscholastic League for football before it dropped the sport in 2007 due to decreasing student numbers.
On Sept. 6, the Trojans will be back on the War Memorial Stadium turf when they play the first official eight-player varsity football game in state history.
"Exciting, it is very exciting," Trojans head coach Walter Kan Hai said Wednesday, hours after the league released the schedule. "It is good to be back and we are glad to be part of history."
St. Anthony will face Seabury Hall in the debut eight-player game, a Thursday contest with a 6:30 p.m. start. Hana will visit Molokai on Sept. 8 for a noon kickoff in the first game for the other two teams.
The schedule will resemble the old double-round-robin system used when the MIL 11-man sport included just St. Anthony, Lahainaluna, Baldwin and Maui High. Four games will be at War Memorial, and Molokai and Hana will each host three. St. Anthony and Seabury Hall will be the sites for one game apiece.
The schedule has two Thursday games, four on Fridays and six on Saturdays. Most kickoffs on Saturdays will be at noon, with one 2 p.m. start, while all other games will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The Trojans, Farmers and Spartans have been playing unofficial games for two years.
"It's nice that we're going to be a high school-sanctioned sport," said Molokai coach Mike Kahale, who has a roster of more than 30 players. "All the hard work has paid off. It adds some legitimacy to what we've been doing."
Kan Hai said he expects 14 to 16 players on the St. Anthony roster.
"We lost some students through the years, but who we have and what they have has been good," he said. "We have been learning the last couple years and we as coaches are enjoying it and the kids are enjoying the sport as well."
Kan Hai said enthusiasm has been building among players, parents and alumni.
"The reaction has been very big," he said. "Everyone is excited, there are a lot of questions, and lots of support."
At least two more leagues must add the sport if a state tournament is to take place.
"The biggest difference is the eight-man game is much quicker, a quicker pace," Kan Hai said. "It is very challenging. We try to practice fast, that is one the most important things to do. We want to have four or five plays ready to go right away, no huddle, and get the play off as quick as possible. Being a small school, we are pretty much trying to gear our strengths offensively and defensively around our key players."
Among the players the Trojans will rely on are Austin Kan Hai, the coach's son, and Keeston Sutherland.
"There is a bunch of boys, lots of freshmen who are now sophomores who are very good athletes for us," Walter Kan Hai said.
Dhavin Spencer-Basa, a state runner-up in wrestling this year, is part of the Molokai roster, and "has a lot of potential," Kahale said.
The league also released the 11-man schedule on Wednesday.
The highlight of a seven-game preseason slate is Baldwin vs. Saint Louis at Aloha Stadium on Aug. 25, the same weekend that MIL play begins with Maui High vs. Kamehameha Maui on Aug. 24, and Lahainaluna vs. Kekaulike on Aug. 25, both at War Memorial.
Seven-time defending MIL champion Baldwin will play only one nonleague game, as will Maui High when the Sabers visit Konawaena on Aug. 18. Lahainaluna will travel to Keaau for its only nonleague game on Aug. 17.
Kamehameha Maui will play two, both at Kanaiaupuni Stadium - Honokaa on Aug. 11 and Kapaa on Aug. 18. King Kekaulike will host Roosevelt on Aug. 11 and Kauai on Aug. 18.
There is no break for the Maui Fair on the schedule.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com