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Slight change in format for MIL football

Majority of teams to open league schedule before playing outside of MIL

Maui High School’s Naia Nakamoto is tackled by Lahainaluna’s Apakasi Felemi during a game last season. Nakamoto and the Sabers open the Maui Interscholastic League regular season with a game against Kamehameha Maui at Kanaiaupuni Stadium on Aug. 9. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

For the first time, the majority of Maui Interscholastic League football teams will play a league game before playing any nonleague games.

In a tentative 2019 schedule obtained by The Maui News, the first weekend of MIL play will be Aug. 9-10 when Maui High School visits Kamehameha Maui to open and Baldwin goes to Lahainaluna the next night. The schedule is subject to change.

The first action of the fall for any MIL teams will be nonleague games on Aug. 3 when King Kekaulike travels to Oahu to play McKinley and Lahainaluna hosts Damien.

King Kekaulike will play perhaps the most traditional slate with both of its preseason games prior to MIL action, including on Aug. 17 when Na Alii will host Kwansei Gakuin of Japan.

Na Alii traveled to Japan to play Kwansei two years ago.

“For us, it’s exciting because it keeps that international relationship,” King Kekaulike co-head coach Tyson Valle said. “Hopefully in the future it gives us the chance to go back to Japan, take the kids up there. For us, that’s one of the biggest things — getting our kids exposed internationally.”

There will be three nonleague games — and no league games — for MIL teams the next week, beginning with Baldwin hosting Southern California power Edison on Aug. 16 at War Memorial Stadium. One day later, King Kekaulike will host Kwansei and Lahainaluna will host Kapaa at Sue Cooley Stadium in a rematch of last year’s Division II state tournament championship game won by the Lunas.

Na Alii come into the season with 41 straight losses overall — a streak that dates back to Sept. 5, 2014 — but the team will have 18 seniors to lead the way this season. Trey Hunter, who set a state record with 342 receiving yards in a loss to Maui High last season, will be back for his senior year.

“That’s actually really important for us,” Valle said of trying to break the streak. “We’ve got actually more seniors than we’ve ever had in the past years, especially some four-year seniors. I think that’s a big part of our program. It’s been a long haul, but we knew it was going to be that way building the program.”

Perhaps the oddest start to the season comes for Maui High, which will open with a league game on Aug. 9 vs. Kamehameha Maui, takes the next week off, travels to Kauai to play its nonleague game on Aug. 24, and then gets back into MIL play on Aug. 30 vs. King Kekaulike.

Opening the season with an MIL game will not effect summer preparation. MIL teams can start conditioning workouts on July 15 and the official practice start date statewide is July 22.

The Oahu Interscholastic Association and Interscholastic League of Honolulu started playing similar schedules in the last of couple years.

“It’s something new, you know, we always had preseason games first and now we’re going to open up with an MIL game, and then go into the preseason game, and then come back and play back into the MIL schedule,” Maui High head coach Rodney Figueroa said. “It’s something new, but it’s something you see happening around the state with other leagues.”

Figueroa said his health is good after he stepped back from being the head coach a year ago for health reasons. He welcomes back Naia Nakamoto, a bruising running back who set the MIL single-season rushing record a year ago with 1,353 yards to go along with 16 touchdowns. Quarterback Brex Delray will also be back in his third year as a starter.

“We’ll be welcoming some young receivers to replace the three that graduated, in Mitch (Hirose), (Trent) Takara and (Torryn) Kauhaahaa-Sulusi. I like what we’ve got with the offensive linemen, we’ve got some good young kids and Edwin Marcos is the leader there.

“We’ll have some young guys fighting for jobs on the O-line along with Marcos and Richard Bratz. We’ve got some decent size there and they’ve been working hard in the weight room.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

2019 MIL Football Schedule

Saturday, Aug. 3

x-Damien at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

x-King Kekaulike vs. McKinley at Farrington, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 9

Maui High at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 10

Baldwin at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 16

x-Baldwin vs. Edison (Calif.) at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 17

x-Kwansei Gakuin (Japan) at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.

x-Kapaa at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 23

Baldwin at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 24

Lahainaluna at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.

x-Maui High vs. Kauai at Vidinha Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 30

Maui High vs. King Kekaulike at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 31

Kamehameha Maui at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 6

Baldwin vs. Maui High at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 7

Kamehameha Maui at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 13

Maui High vs. Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 14

Baldwin vs. King Kekaulike at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 20

Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 21

Maui High vs. Kamehameha Maui at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 27

King Kekaulike at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 28

Maui High vs. Baldwin at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 4

Lahainaluna at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 5

Maui High at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 11

Baldwin vs. Kamehameha Maui at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 12

King Kekaulike at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 18

Baldwin at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 19

Maui High at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 25

Division I playoff, if necessary, at War Memorial Stadium, time TBA

Saturday, Oct. 26

Division II playoff, if necessary, at War Memorial Stadium, time TBA

x-denotes nonleague game