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Kauai, Hawai'i Island high school football coaches excited for football amid COVID-19 frustrations

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Kauai, Hawai'i Island high school football coaches excited for football amid COVID-19 frustrations

Week one of the public high school football season is under a week away, but some coaches are feeling the effects of this fall's football hiatus.

For starters, with just three weeks of practice time before the first week of the regular season resumes, coaches all over Hawaii say their teams are not as prepared physically or mentally as compared to years past.

"The start of the football season is going to be a little uglier," Kapa'a High School head coach Mike Tresler said. "It's going to be hard to deal with mentally because we don't enjoy that, we don't like that, we need time to prepare. We'd all do better if we had more time to prepare, but we're going through the same thing and that helps. It helps that we're not alone. We can just do what we need to do and coach them up and prepare them and play this beautiful game of football."

Further than the schematics and physics of such a tough sport, roster numbers across the state have fallen as a result of the Department of Education's vaccination mandate. 

Coaches, including Kealakehe High School's Wyatt Nahale, say that they've seen a dramatic decrease in roster size. 

"Our numbers vary between JV and varsity anywhere between 80 to 100 and this year that may be cut in half," Nahale said. "The vaccine mandate has hurt us. Some parents don't feel comfortable and I respect their decision. Not to mention, there's a process of being tested as well and that's tough on any family, especially on a working family. Parents are busy, so I definitely feel for them, but it's definitely tough. For our program, it's taken its toll."

All in all, however, coaches and players alike are excited to get back to football--whether they're ready or not. Most high schools across Hawaii will return to action in the next two weeks for modified, mostly inner-island seasons. 

The silver lining, Waiakea High School head coach Neil Azevedo says, is that these tough times have brought the best out of his players. 

"These seniors now, they stepped up big time, they became young men," Azevedo said. "They stepped up and became coaches too, they're helping out the freshmen, helping out the sophomores. They're guiding them in the right direction....I'm very proud. They'll be good citizens in their community and wherever they plan on going."

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