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Lahaina Chiefs kickoff the 2016 season

By Staff | Sep 15, 2016

LAHAINA – The steadfast tradition of true grit football here on the West Side continues to grow as the Lahaina Chiefs youth program kicks off the 2016 season.

A member of the Maui Pop Warner Football Association, the Lahaina organization boasts a roster of over 100 players and cheerleaders ranging in age from five to 14 years old guided by a long list of coaches and board members seemingly forever dedicated to the care of the children of the community and the continuing legacy of Red Tide football.

Some 30 years ago, a floundering youth football program was given a much-needed boost with the leadership of a man by the name of Kale Casco. The family name is synonymous with success in football and wrestling within the Lahaina community and at Lahainaluna High School, and it was Coach Kale that organized and nurtured the Chiefs from an average program in those early days to the consistent, healthy youth athletic program of today.

The 2016 MPWFA Lahaina commissioner is Althena Cajudoy, who handles the organizational duties, while the reformatted divisional designations each form their own board of directors that work through Cajudoy in reporting to the league office.

The Tiny Mite Division – the five- to eight-year-olds that weigh up to 75 pounds and look like they could spin their helmets around their heads and fit another kid under their shoulder pads – is led by Head Coach Kalani Gonsalves and assistants Junior Kenolio, Robyn Lanoza and Koa Kaina. The board of directors includes Marilyn Valencia, Lei Kron, Piilani Uyeda, Dollie Moreno and Kristell Albano.

The Junior Peewee team is guided by Head Coach Jayson Cabanilla along with Hoku Gonzales, Wyatt Lott, Jordan Cabanilla, Ansen Cabanilla and John Lacuesta. Janice Dapitan is the JPW president and is joined by Board Members Kalani Dapitan, Anela Gordon, Petrina Castillo and Emelyn Santella in the organizational leadership of the team.

The Peewee Chiefs are coached by head man Lee Aaron Yap and assistants Trent Tremell, Lee Viela, Tyrone Delos Reyes, Joey Clark and Dre Hale. Their board of directors is made up of Liza Williams, Lani Keahi and Jenn Purdy.

The Midget Division, for 12- to 14-year-old players that weigh up to 180 pounds, has a new moniker; they are the Varsity now. The Lahaina Varsity is guided by a list of very familiar West Side athletes on the coaching staff, including Head Coach Kai Keahi and assistants Kia Neizman, Cliffane Casco and Nate Williams. Michelle Neizman, Maryann Lukela and Nori Tihada form the leadership board for the team.

The MPWFA teams from Kahului, Kihei, Upcountry, Wailuku and Lahaina all kicked off their regular season schedules with games at War Memorial Stadium, Kula and Kihei on Sunday, Sept. 11. Games will continue through Thanksgiving week. Turkey Bowl contests, featuring the top Maui teams taking on Oahu champions, will take place during Thanksgiving weekend. The Chiefs will play four home games during the month of October at the Lahaina Recreation Center field.

The major fundraising event for the Lahaina teams is their annual teriyaki burger event at the Maui County Fair in October.

Peewee Head Coach Lee Aaron Yap expressed the gratitude of the entire organization to the West Side community for their continuing support of the Chiefs in this fundraiser.

“Our big mahalo goes out to Leilani’s on the Beach and (general manager) Jason Donez. They always come through with so much help and donations for our fundraiser. They are awesome help for us,” he said.