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Friday night football returns

LIHU‘E — When the football games kick off starting at 5 p.m. today, it will be the first football game since the COVID-19 pandemic literally shut down the island more than a year ago.

It also comes less than a day after the approval by Gov. David Ige of Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami’s updated Business &Recreation Guidelines tier chart and the county’s move to Tier 3 following elevated case counts over the past two weeks.

The major changes in the approved modifications reduce the indoor gathering limit to five while allowing groups of up to 25 outdoors. The change also allows team sports to continue with COVID-safe protocols in place.

The game at Vidinha Stadium takes place following long and lengthy discussions involving many people, including the coaches from the different public high schools, county, game officials and player parents.

“I want to thank all of the people involved,” said Teddy Arroyo, a coach with the Kaua‘i High junior varsity squad.

“This was truly a collaborative effort, because everyone had a hand in making the games possible — coach Kyle Linoz and coach Michael Tressler, without their players, there couldn’t be a game; the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation for their willingness to work with us; and even the officials. We had a long meeting where both sides put their issues on the table, and we worked it out.”

Tonight’s contest will unfold under the auspices of the Triple K Strongmen Athletics as the Kaua‘i 7 on 7 Lineman Challenge.

“We’re going 7 on 7,” Arroyo said. “But the linemen have been practicing and working out just as hard are the QBs and receivers. We’re putting five linemen in with two having the ability to rush the quarterback. They deserve to be in the game.”

Game format will involve junior-varsity aged and varsity aged students in high school playing a 25-minute running clock.

“We’re going to have seven games from 5 p.m.,” Arroyo said. “The game is on a running clock, which means you need to be quick. Twenty-five minutes is the game.”

Arroyo said the league plays under the auspices of USA Flag Football that allow eighth-grade students to be considered for the team roster. Kaua‘i High School currently has about 50 students in both JV and varsity taking the practice field, including several middle-school students who will be ninth-graders when fall practice gets underway.

Additionally, no spectators will be allowed inside the stadium.

Players and coaches will be subject to temperature checks upon entry to the stadium, and face masks need to be worn unless playing on the field.

“Our top priority for this experience is safety,” Arroyo said.

“We want the kids to be safe. We’re taking this one step at a time. If we do good this time, who knows, it might loosen up by the time we get to the Kapa‘a stadium. But the thing right now is to let the kids play. They haven’t been on the field for more than a year. They need to play.”

Additionally, there is a battery of sanitizers and sanitation equipment to keep everything clean on and off the field.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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