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MIL announces no JV football, 6 p.m. kickoffs

The Maui Interscholastic League football season will not include any junior varsity play in 2021 and each of the league’s 15 varsity games will begin at 6 p.m.

The MIL released an updated football schedule on Tuesday with the changes — the games remain in the same order and dates as previously released.

The league is expected to announce its policy on allowing fans to attend athletic contests soon.

The first football game is Friday when Maui High School visits Sue Cooley Stadium to play Lahainaluna. The Lunas will be making their Division I debut after winning four straight state D-II titles.

With just eight seniors and eight juniors on their 45-player roster, Lahainaluna was not planning to field a JV team this season before Tuesday’s league-wide plan was unveiled.

“We already anticipated that,” Lunas co-head coach Dean Rickard said before practice on Tuesday. “As far as our program at Lahainaluna, we weren’t even going to be participating in any JV competition. So, it didn’t come as a surprise.”

Rickard was somewhat surprised that Maui High, with 57 on its roster, and Baldwin, with a league-high 67 players on its roster, will not play JV.

“My understanding from talking to some of the other coaches from some of the other teams, like Baldwin and Maui High, is that they had enough kids to make JV teams,” Rickard said. “They were going to try to figure out some way to play some type of scrimmages, but for us it’s not a surprise.”

In fact, the decision to forgo JV play this season works in the Lunas’ favor.

“We were facing challenges with the amount of players that we have, the lack of upperclassmen coming back,” Rickard said. “We’re going to have to tap into our freshmen and sophomore classes just to be able to field a varsity team this year.”

The 6 p.m. kickoffs will not affect the Lunas much, if at all.

“It’ll just allow us to go home earlier,” Rickard said.

The season was pushed back due to the state Depaertment of Education decree on Aug. 4 that all players, coaches and volunteers must be vaccinated for COVID-19 or have an approved exemption for medical or religious reasons. Practice restarted on Sept. 27.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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