The Maui News 2017 MIL 8-Player Football All-Stars
New position, familiar spot: Naeole-Starkey, playing QB for first time ever, helped lead Farmers to third straight MIL title
As the 2017 season approached, Molokai High School football coach Mike Kahale didn’t have a firm grip on who would be the Farmers’ quarterback.
Over the summer, Shraedon Naeole-Starkey had been working out as a wide receiver, catching passes from former Molokai standout QBs John-Michael Mokiao-Duvauchelle and Jayden Dudoit-Tabilangan.
Fast forward to Sept. 30, at the Farmers’ on-campus field in Hoolehua. Naeole-Starkey threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to spark Molokai to a 73-38 win over Lanai in the Maui Interscholastic League eight-player football championship game.
Performances like that show why Naeole-Starkey is The Maui News MIL Player of the Year in eight-player football. He joins Dudoit-Tabilangan (2016) as an MIL POY and Mokiao-Duvauchelle (2015) as a first-team quarterback selection.
“Those are my close friends,” Naeole-Starkey said. “This offseason I actually worked with them. Not knowing I was going to be a quarterback, they were helping me. … Working to be a receiver, they showed me the ropes.”
Now, Naeole-Starkey has joined his friends as a championship quarterback.
“Very cool, it was a great experience during the season and to step up as we had a young team,” Naeole-Starkey said. “I had to step up, be a leader, show my teammates and show my coaches that I wanted to be a quarterback.”
Naeole-Starkey surprised even himself.
“It was actually my first year ever trying quarterback, never did play quarterback,” he said. “Enjoyed it a lot. The team looked to me as more of a leader, to help the team. During practice and in games, just to be positive, to bond as a team, to trust each other. We overcame adversity and just worked together as a team.”
The Farmers have won 15 MIL games in a row in taking the last three league crowns. They lead the MIL All-Star list with nine first-team selections.
The first-team offense includes Molokai’s Naeole-Starkey, Hauoli Caparida (running back), who scored five touchdowns in the title game, Kaimana Nakayama (wide receiver) and Kahakea Tilini (offensive line); Lanai’s Naighel Calderon (running back), who also scored five touchdowns in the finale, J.J. Dulay (wide receiver), Jose Baltero (offensive line) and Devrene Kahananui-Alejado (utility); and Seabury Hall’s Keanu Akina-Ancog (offensive line).
The first-team defense includes Molokai’s Clancey Wright (defensive line), Braiden Asuncion (linebacker), Chevy Augustiro (linebacker), Landen Kaneakua (defensive back) and Nakayama (defensive back); Seabury Hall’s Chase Granum (defensive line), Rolando Berdal (defensive back) and Ben Swartz (utility); and Lanai’s Faatoa Olomua (linebacker).
The Farmers are always conscious that they represent their entire island.
“We had a lot of fun, a lot of bonding during practices, after practices,” Naeole-Starkey said. “We just wanted to put Molokai on the map, for having a three-peat, three-peat MIL champs, yup.”
Naeole-Starkey filled the leadership role that the Farmers were searching for.
“We graduated 16 seniors the year before and we only had four seniors coming back — we had a transfer come in, which was our fifth (senior),” said Kahale, voted by his peers as MIL Coach of the Year. “But we didn’t know who was going to step up as our quarterback. We had a couple ideas, but Shraedon was going to fill the role as a wide receiver like he did the last three years, and DB.
“But the more I watched him develop, and I looked at his athleticism, and just him throwing the ball, I felt like I needed to give him a shot. He’s an athlete. Typically you put one of your best athletes at quarterback and he filled in nicely.”
It wasn’t until the first game that Kahale knew for sure that he had his leader.
“He stepped up big-time for us … I think everybody was pleasantly surprised,” Kahale said. “I think he even surprised himself.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.
Hana–Nahinu Lind, Lathon Clark, Keahi Park, Hauoli Sinenci; Lanai–Jamal Adams, Elijah Gima-Maltezo, Morgan Jonas, Nathan Gani; Seabury Hall–Jack Almeida, Blayde Omura, Taiana Ornellas, Kai Preseault, Steve Savou, J.J. Snyder; Molokai–Kawika Kaupu, Puali Kane-Kalua, Petey Keliihoomalu, Jayse Lalim-Rillon, Jordan Manangan, Pale Pale, Kaimana Paleka, Nalima Puaa-Aki.