Lahaina Big Boy Football prepares athletes to compete at Lahainaluna
LAHAINA – Big Boy Football Maui began four years ago, as Valley Isle coaches saw the need to give intermediate school age players that were too heavy to participate in the traditional Pop Warner leagues in the fall months an opportunity to compete in full gear on the gridiron.
Maui Interscholastic League coaches put their minds together to replicate the system that Kahuku, the rural community on the North Shore of Oahu, had installed to build a pathway to success at the high school level.
Since then, Kahuku has been a dominating force in the Oahu Interscholastic Association, and most of the top programs across the state are moving in the same direction.
The MIL has followed suit and, as would be expected, Lahainaluna is on the leading edge of the program here on Maui.
The Lahaina Big Boys Football team missed out on the first year of competition on Maui, but since then, they have rung up three consecutive championship seasons and, most importantly, established continuity in the “Luna Process” to solidify the flow of directed student athletes up to the high school program.
Led by Lahaina’s veteran grassroots gridiron advocate and former Lahainaluna player, coach and booster leader Lanny Tihada, the West Side team has steamrolled the competition over the last three spring seasons to the tune of 8-0, 8-1, and 8-0 records.
Coach Lanny is joined on the coaching staff by a familiar group of guiding mentors with the Lunas, including Bobby Watson, Garret Tihada, Mike Arakawa, Kenui Watson, Joey Tihada, Randy Arakawa, Clifford Corniel, Nolle Smith, Victor Akauola, Chris Pino and Craig Wise.
“This is a development program for the high school team,” explained Coach Lanny last week. “Several of the kids on the Lahainaluna team today are three-year vets from the Big Boys team. Everything we do is a mirror of the Lahainaluna program – the discipline, fundamentals, the offensive and defensive schemes, all of it, including the way we carry ourselves on and off the field, the way we dress and so on. We had 38 kids on the roster this season, and most of them will move up to the high school team with all the systems in their experience.”
But, in the bigger picture, these programs – the Kahuku process and now the Luna effort – do much more than produce young football players. As Lunas’ co-head coach and Maui Police Department Det. Garret Tihada stated succinctly in addressing the team recently, “We are not only here to coach you to be better football players; we are here to coach you to be better people.”
Coach Lanny added that the effort seems to be working.
“The kids are responding by learning what Lahainaluna football stands for. They are learning what it takes to be in a winning program. It seems like this is true for all of the teams in the league here on Maui, and it’s been great for everybody. And the parents seem to be happy with what they’re seeing,” he concluded.