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Student-athletes competing in 7-on-7 football games

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | May 21, 2021

Lahaina 7-on-7 football players recently reached the finals of a tournament in Las Vegas.

LAHAINA — Despite the loss of high school football for the 2020 season, several Maui community organizations — including the Maui County Police Department — have come together to promote 7-on-7 programs for student-athletes across the island.

The NXT Level organization in Lahaina provides the guidelines and support for some 100 keiki ages six to 18 to participate in the 7-on-7 competition.

Participants adhere to requirements of academics, community service and citizenship under the guidelines of the program.

Under the leadership of Cliffane Casco and a coaching staff that includes LeeArron Yap, Jayson Cabanilla, Jayson Keanini and Ivanhoe Mathias, the NXT Level team from Lahaina recently traveled to Las Vegas for a 25-team tournament.

In a strong effort, NXT Level reached the tournament championship finals, but fell in a double overtime thriller to the Hawaii Finest team.

NXT Level finished the event with a 3-1 record and ranked in the top five of the 25-team field.

The NXT Level varsity roster includes Kalai Storer, Devon Sa Chisolm, Neil Agabayani, Ekolu Mathias, Tre Rickard, Treven Tihada, Sky Smith, Julian Armstrong, Shawn Abut, Justin Deleon, Ka’ili Casco, Kalai Yap, Blare Silva Viela, Will Casco, Khyren Purdy, Anu Kaina, Dom Damasco and Ian Cabanilla.

The freshman team was made up of Ka’onohi Casco, Pa’ani Yap, Kainoa Keanini, Avery Babayan, Aiden Takahashi, Noa Gordon, Makana Kamaka Brayce, Keegan Gantala, Ikaika Cabrera, Noah Garcia, James Lukela Kobatake, Teddy Fauhiva and Brayden Alavanso. Team managers were Kalena Balingit and Tori Tihada.

Team sponsors included Judson and Martina McCall-Nagasako of Ballout ‘Ohana Maui Youth Foundation, Cody Nakamura of Maui Flag Football League, Clint and Starlet of Molokai Hot Bread, Lauvale and Sarah Sape Foundation, and 1995 LHS Alum Fred Feliti Taukei’aho and wife Angie at Snow College.