LIHUE — It must be the helmets, said Kauai Youth Football coach Nardo Nacnac on Monday during practice for the Lihue Division II team at Nawiliwili Park.
“This is the first time we’re offering flag football,” Nacnac said. “And they wear padded helmets. The kids just got their helmets and some of the parents said they wouldn’t take them off at home.”
The flag football players in the 8-and-under and the 6-and-under divisions will be on the field at Vidinha Stadium when KYF opens its spring football season Saturday with three games slated.
“The flag football players from Lihue and Kapaa will be playing at the same time on the field starting at 3 p.m.,” said Brad Hiranaka, the KYF commissioner. “Following the flag football, the Division II players from Lihue and Kapaa will face off. The night ends with the Division I Kapaa Red and the Kapaa White tangling from 6 p.m.”
Falling under the auspices of American Youth Football, Nardo Nacnac, coach for the Lihue Division II team, said they first saw the AYF flag football on Oahu.
“They told us to just try it out,” Nacnac said. “We opened registration and on the first day, we had more than 40 youngsters come out.”
Lihue will field 20 players in the Flag 6-and-under program, 20 players in the Flag 8-and-under program, 26 players in Division II, and 16 in Division I.
Hiranaka said Kapaa has about 150 students playing in all of the divisions.
Corbin Leong, a sixth grade student at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, said he is getting ready for high school football.
“I’ve been playing for three years,” Leong said. “I went from lineman to quarterback because of the important skills I learned by playing with the big boys. I’m ready.”
On March 24, KYF will host Waimanalo in games scheduled for March 24 and 25 at the Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste Memorial Sports Park in Kapaa.
“The outer island teams said they’re coming,” Hiranaka said. “They’re even bringing their flag teams.”
Kapaa will host Waimanalo in the 8-and-under flag at 4 p.m. on March 24. That game will be followed by the Kapaa Division II hosting Waimanalo starting at 5 p.m., and the Kapaa Division I White will play Waimanalo starting at 7 p.m.
On March 25, Lihue will play Kapaa in flag football starting at 10 a.m., both the 6-and-under and the 8-and-under teams taking the field at the same time. Lihue flag 8 will take on Waimanalo starting at 11 a.m.
The Division II Lihue team will host Waimanalo starting at 4 p.m. followed by the Lihue Division I squad going up against Waimanalo starting at 6 p.m.