LIHUE — Eleven football seniors will represent the Kauai Interscholastic Federation at the inaugural Life Champion Senior Bowl on Saturday on the Big Island.
Most, if not all, the players share the same intention — not only performing well for college coaches and spectators, but to give a good showing on behalf of their schools, the KIF and the island on Kauai.
“(A) big reason I wanted to come here is because I want people to know there’s talent that comes from Kauai,” said Red Raiders wide receiver Camren Henry in a phone interview. “It’s also really competitive because you’re trying to get recognized by coaches. Practices are actually more important than the game. During the practices are when coaches really look at you.
“I’m actually really excited because I haven’t suited up in two months. Suiting up is something to be excited about,” he added.
Kapaa offensive lineman Maka Ah Loo added the exhibition game gives him a chance to line up with his teammates one final time.
“I get to play with them one last game. It’s a good chance for one last ride with them,” Ah Loo said. “I’m excited. I’m putting in work and trying to get in that first group, and want to represent Kauai because Kauai is one of those islands that gets overlooked.”
The exhibition game is hosted by the Hawaii Football Club, a nonprofit organization based on the Big Island that focuses on trying to get high school players to the next level. Players from 32 Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I and Division II schools will take part.
The process to have an all-state senior bowl started in early October, said Hawaii Football Club strength and conditioning coach Chad Ikei.
“We wanted to put together an all star game for the outer island kids. (Hawaii Football Club director Keala Pule and secretary Celeste Pule), they got together and started organizing in the Big Island,” Ikei said. “We basically started off with all outer island kids. Then the all star game on Oahu ended up getting canceled. So we decided to open the game for those kids as well.”
Ikei said players who were selected were voted for by current and former football coaches. The all star rosters of all the HHSAA leagues were also taken under consideration.
He added representatives from 10 colleges will be in attendance.
The players arrived on the Big Island on Wednesday. As for those from the KIF, Ikei said he’s already worked with some of them and sees potential.
“They all hanging in there. They’re banging with the best,” he said. “They’re holding their own. It’s going to be interesting to see if the college coaches can reach out and offer some scholarships to these boys.
“The other thing is to see these kids represent their families, their schools, communities one last time and have fun. A lot of these kids won’t get the opportunity to play college. This could be their last high school game,” Ikei added.
Waimea defensive back Keenan Kaluahine-Arroyo said practicing with players and coaches from all over the state has been different from what he’s accustomed to, but he’s glad to take part and learn as much as he can.
“It’s a good experience just seeing different caliber players and different playing styles,” he said. “It’s kind of nerve-racking when you’re talking (with coaches) face up, right there, but it’s a good experience.”
The game begins at 7 p.m. at Paiea Stadium, Kamehameha Schools — Hawaii’s home field. The game will be streamed live on scoringlive.com.
“Just trying to give what we got and make the best of what we have,” said Kapaa linebacker Brooks Bethel. “I want to prove I can compete with the kids from the other schools, show what I got and play with the Kauai boys.”