The first two official eight-player football seasons in the 50th state have been all about the growing rivalry between Seabury Hall and Molokai - and the play of Cayde Omura.
The Maui Interscholastic League became the first league in Hawaii to add the sport, in 2012. This year, the league's coaches selected the inaugural edition of The Maui News MIL All-Star team, but if there had been such a unit last season, it undoubtedly would have been led by Omura.
"It's cool to be the first one," said Omura, a 5-foot-7, 160-pound senior running back and the unanimous pick for MIL Player of the Year. "I wasn't sure if we were going to do it coming into this year, but we did and I owe a lot of it to my teammates - my offensive line, the wide receivers for blocking and the defense especially. They were really solid throughout the season."
Cayde Omura is a unanimous selection as the inaugural Maui Interscholastic League Player of the Year in eight-man football, and one of Seabury Hall’s 10 first-team All-Stars.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Omura is joined on the first-team offense by teammates Rip Pahukoa, Jaxson Stinger, Bruno Bernachi and Levi Okazaki, Molokai's Noah Caparida, Kaimana Kahale and Kilo Kaawa-Gonzales and St. Anthony's Colby Tam.
The first-team defense is all Spartans and Farmers: Bryce Barbier, Mogul Luuwai, Hobbs Weymouth, Travis Mrantz and Carter Christie of Seabury, and David Rapanot, King Kahana-Kalua, Alika Kaahanui and Makana Kaholoaa of Molokai.
Seabury, unbeaten in 12 MIL games over the first two seasons, began a developmental team with only sophomores and below in Omura's 8th-grade year.
"Over the past few years we developed a lot and we have a good core group of guys and a lot of younger underclassmen who can keep the team going in a positive direction," Omura said. "Coach (Andrew) Burger and our other coaching staff, they are really good and I have faith in them next year and the years after that."
Burger said Omura was the leader of this year's seniors, a key group for the program.
"Cayde's class, when they were in 8th grade, we wanted to add another sport for those boys, specifically his class," said Burger, the MIL Coach of the Year. "Eight-man football was just starting to get thrown around and so it was kind of his class that got that going specifically here."
Omura started at quarterback as a sophomore when the sport was unofficial.
"As far as what Cayde's meant to the program, Cayde was the guy the past three years," Burger said. "He was essentially our No. 1 threat wherever he lined up."
The Spartans are the only squad to have defeated the Farmers in the four-team league's history.
"Molokai is tough, they have a bunch of tough guys over there and it just makes you want to try harder at practice," Omura said. "It motivates me and my teammates. It just adds to the fight. There's no bad blood, it's friendly."
Omura does not discount the possibility of playing NCAA Division III football.
He has played football and baseball from the youth level with his brother Slayde, now a freshman at the University of San Francisco. They were Seabury's middle infielders for the last three seasons on the baseball field.
Cayde Omura's football success nearly didn't happen.
"Coach Burger mentioned to me a couple times in middle school about playing (football) and I was kind of on the edge," Omura said. "I'm glad I played. I was surprised at what I achieved. It wasn't all me - my parents, I owe a great part to them. My coaches, the community that surrounds me, Seabury Hall, my teammates, I love everybody."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com