St. Francis ready to unveil first varsity football team

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's only a scrimmage, but history will be made next week in Hawaii high school sports.

For the first time in 90 years, Saint Francis School is playing a varsity football game.

It's a significant milestone, but now the team has to hit the ground running.

The 40 players on the roster have only played together for a few months and everyone is dealing with the growing pains.

"Half of the kids, they didn't even know how to play football," said Mike Ulufale, the team's head coach. "They didn't come to St. Francis to play football, so teaching first timers to go up against Punahou and St Louis and Kamehameha, the big three, it's tough.  These guys had to grow up quick."

One of the guys helping accelerate the growth is senior linebacker-- George Pakele.

He played the last three years for Pac-Five and is excited to be a part of something new.

"It can be hard at times because it really tests your patience and it brings out your character, but it's also fun," Pakele said. "I like being a leader, showing everybody, leading by example."

Before the boys could play a single down, the school's head had to put in the work off the field.

For the last six years, Sister Joan of Arc Souza lobbied the Interscholastic League of Honolulu to approve a team and donors to pay for it.

She says putting together a squad could cost upwards of $100,000.

"It costs a lot of money," Souza said. "From uniforms to equipment, we did get some things donated, but start-up costs last year, with the intermediate and the JV, it hit us hard, but we're doing it. We've got the funds."

The team has no shortage of confidence.

"They're shooting big," Ulufale said. "I mean, who dreams little? Our goal is to win D-II and the boys, they said it themselves, they're hungry."

Despite the program's youth, one thing is clear, the St. Francis Saints are ready to take the field.

The Saints' scrimmage is set for August 1 at Kailua High.

Follow Mark Carpenter:   

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.