Spartans look to future
Seabury football team holds inaugural spring practice, holds hope of one day moving up to 11-man
OLINDA — While 14 Seabury Hall football players took part in the first set of spring practices ever for the school on Tuesday, excitement about the future reverberated all over the field.
As new head coach Dave Carino watched a solid nucleus of returners go at it in 7-on-7 drills, he pondered a move from the eight-player level to the traditional 11-player game in the Maui Interscholastic League.
“It’s always a goal, we’d love to,” Carino said of joining the 11-player MIL ranks. “Again, it’s us working with (administration) here as well as the kids and what the kids want. That’s one thing I liked about working here — they have a slogan on the shirts here that says ‘It’s all about the kids.’ So, if the kids want it and the admin is ok with it, I’m going to be all for it.”
The team’s tentative 2017 schedule includes six games in the MIL eight-player league, a nonleague eight-player contest against a Big Island foe, and three 11-player nonleague games with Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Kalaheo and a Canadian all-star team. There is also the possibility of adding a fourth 11-player game against Upcountry rival King Kekaulike.
Former head coach and current offensive coordinator Guy Batchelder, who is also the school’s dean of students, said: “We would love to go 11-man and in some years we would be able to field an 11-man team with a little depth. This is one of those years, but because of the student-body population it is just going to be very difficult. I don’t know if it’s feasible.”
Chase Granum, a senior-to-be, became the first to receive an NCAA Division I scholarship while playing for an MIL eight-player team when Navy offered him earlier this year. He has also been in recent contact with Vanderbilt and Hawaii.
“I think it’s super cool to be building this program,” said Granum, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound tight end/defensive end. “It’s a good program, and usually Seabury doesn’t get recognized for its sports, but we’re changing the game. I think it’s awesome to get some recognition for Seabury, but also for eight-man.”
The 42-year-old Carino, a 1992 Saint Louis School graduate, is excited for his first head-coaching job. He was an assistant with Baldwin from 2002 to 2014, the last 10 seasons as either offensive or defensive coordinator.
“I mean I’ve been coaching all these years here on Maui and just the timing, I’m happy about the timing,” Carino said. “I do have a young family and being at Baldwin all those years and it wasn’t the right timing to move up anywhere. I live Upcountry, so it’s just good timing for it.”
Carino admitted it would be a struggle to reach the MIL 11-player minimum rule of 35 non-freshmen players for a school without a junior varsity team or 30 non-freshmen for schools with JV teams.
“The numbers are hard to get to just because of the enrollment cap that they might be putting in here,” Carino said. “If we start to do well in the eight-man league we’re hoping it creates the buzz in the school and just gets more people to start participating.”
The players appear to be right in line with the thought of growing into an 11-player program.
“I love it, I think it’s a great thing for us,” said quarterback Jack Almeida, a senior-to-be. “I think that it’s showing our program is on the rise. We’re trying to go up. Even though this is my last year, I think it’s great for all the guys that are coming up underneath me like my brother and all the 8th-graders.
“This just shows that we’re trying to build a program out here and that we’re hoping to move up and not always staying eight-man. That’s not our final destination, we’re really trying to get up to the next level.”
The spring drills are clearly a step in that direction.
“It’s really cool because all the years I’ve been here we’ve always been trying to establish it,” senior-to-be Rolando Berdal said. “Last year, we just really didn’t have the number of guys to do it. This year our team really committed themselves. We were given assignments to do to raise money to make this happen and I’m pretty proud of our team to make it happen.”
Wide receiver Kili Madrid said he has seen growth, but he knows how tough the two-time defending MIL eight-player champions from Molokai will be in the fall.
“Last year we tried to do a bunch of this stuff, we tried to go to do spring training trips up on the Mainland and stuff, but it just didn’t seem to work out as planned,” Madrid said. “This spring training is going to help us a lot this year and the upcoming year against Molokai. Maybe, we finally have a chance to beat them this year.”
Carino does have a timeline in mind for 11-player football.
“It’s tough to put one on it, but the sooner the better,” he said. “I would always like to say within three years of when I start, that would be a nice number.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.