Pop Warner opener gets Friday night lights

LIHU‘E — Friday night football under the lights comes to Vidinha Stadium next week when the Kaua‘i Pop Warner Football League opens its fall season.

“Having Friday night football under the lights was an opportunity to grab,” said Teddy Arroyo, KPWFL commissioner, after discussions with Lenny Rapozo, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation. “This is the first time in the history of Pop Warner football on Kaua‘i when we can play under the lights and hopefully, the grandmas and grandpas of these young players can enjoy Friday night lights while supporting their little ones. We also invite all the high school football players and their parents to come enjoy.”

The annual Jamboree opening the season will be tied in with the double-header football games scheduled for 5 and 7:30 p.m. at Vidinha Stadium featuring the league’s Junior Midget players, ages 10 to 12.

The Lihu‘e Patriots will open against the Koloa Redskins at 5 p.m. followed by the Kapa‘a Eagles taking on the Hanapepe Colts at 7:30 p.m.

Between the two games, the KPWFL will take time to recognize seven players who made the Scholastics second team as well as a special award which league leaders will unveil at the ceremony.

The Friday night game will be followed by four games on Sunday at Vidinha stadium when the Junior Pee Wee Lihu‘e Patriots host the Koloa Redskins starting at 8:30 a.m. followed by the Mitey Mite Lihu‘e Patriots hosting the Koloa Redskins at 10:30 a.m. The Kapa‘a Eagles Junior Pee Wee host the Hanapepe Colts at 12:30 p.m. followed by the Mitey Mite Kapa‘a Eagles taking on the Hanapepe Colts at 2:30 p.m.

Arroyo said the league opens with five strong associations — Kapa‘a, Lihu‘e, Koloa, Hanapepe and Kekaha — after some turmoil when the league was listed by the Internal Revenue Service as losing its non-profit status.

“We are in the final stages of rectifying this situation,” said Sherri Agosto, the president of KPWFL. “We’ve had staff changes, but what is important is we are committed to do what we are supposed to do so the community, our, kids are safe and have a football season. The kids need to belong and in this tight economy, our group is focused to keep them off the streets.”

Agosto said the Lihu‘e Patriots association, led by Lilane Corpuz, has taken the lead and worked with other associations to strengthen themselves, the Lihu‘e association going so far as to provide all the footballs needed so the fall season can take place.

“The adult leaders we have in the league are committed,” Arroyo said. “Even the football officials, some of whom volunteered to officiate games without pay. The league is working to re-earn the respect of the community.”

League officials include Agosto, Arroyo, Cassie Camara as secretary, Tasha Daligcon as cheer coordinator and Millie Ah Hee as scholastic coordinator.

Association presidents in addition to Corpuz include Akala Aiwohi, president of the Kapa‘a Eagles, Alida Lazaro, president of the Koloa Redskins, this year adopting a universal team name for all three of this teams, Raynette Kagawa, president of the Hanapepe Colts and Sarah Poteete, president of the Kekaha Titans, also being universal over its three age groups.

The KPWFL will host three age divisions in tackle football and cheer: the Mitey Mite, ages 7 to 9, the Junior PeeWee, ages 8 to 10, and the Junior Midgets, ages 10 to 12.

Arroyo said on Sept. 9, the KPWFL will host another Friday night game under the lights, this time featuring the Mitey Mites, the youngest age group in the league, at Hanapepe Stadium.

“We’re always finding new ways to bring out students for cheer and football,” Arroyo said. “Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. has a saying, ‘Together we can.’ We say ‘Together, we will!’”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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