Future legends take the field in Lahaina Pop Warner Football
LAHAINA – Similar to the championship success of youth and high school wrestling, the fortunes and interest of youth football on the West Side match the title town Red Tide surge up the hill of the Lahainaluna High School gridiron squads.
The Lahaina Chiefs of the Maui Youth Football Cheer Conference have over 140 kids on the official rosters of their Tiny Mite, Junior Peewee, Peewee, Midget and cheer squads this year.
It is the arrival of the newest generation of gridiron legends to continue the pathway of football success here on the West Side.
It is the time for the new wave of Cascos, Panis, Gomes and Gonzales to forge a new history on the fields at the Lahaina Recreation Center and up at the Lahainaluna Stadium.
The MYFCC has organizations throughout Maui County with teams representing Lanai, Molokai, Lahaina, Wailuku, Kahului, Kihei and Kulamalu.
Each of these organizations is guided by boards of every division, including Tiny Mites, Junior Peewees, Peewees and Midgets, as well as a leadership group for each cheerleading squad.
This year, the Lahaina Chiefs Midget Division team for 105- to 170-pound players is led by President Ferris Badua and Head Coach Kalama McEwen. The Peewees (75-120 pounds) are guided by Athena Cajudoy and Cliffane Casco (the team was also coached by Glen “Gonzo” Gonsalves, who passed away recently). Junior Peewees (60-105 pounds) leaders are Ui Castro and Kale Casco, and the Tiny Mites’ (35-85 pounds) president is Kuulei Gonzales and the head coach is Leon Gomes.
The cheer squads are mentored by Shannon Ii, Shantelle Kaili, Nikki Pepa, Kahea Panis and Shanel Bergade.
The Chiefs began practice in August, participated in the kick off Jamboree on Sept. 1, and played their first league game a week later at home against the Kulamalu Cowboys.
Regular season contests for all divisions will continue through mid-November, with Turkey Bowl games slated for Thanksgiving weekend at War Memorial Stadium.
Home games for the Chiefs will be played on Sept. 29, Oct. 27 and Nov. 17, and the Chiefs encourage all Lahaina football fans to come out and support their teams on those dates.
Lahaina Chiefs spokeswoman Ui Castro explained that fundraising is ongoing with upcoming events, including teri burger sales at the Maui Fair and concession proceeds at the home games.
“We’ve had a really big turnout this year, and the community support has been wonderful,” she said from the sidelines at the Lahaina Recreation Center field.
“Our thanks goes out to the parents, families, the community, local businesses – everyone that has helped us have such a successful season thus far. We’ve seen some really positive energy this year, and it’s great!”