HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Football is back in the ILH, albeit in a severely downsized capacity with Saint Louis, Kamehameha and Punahou scheduled to take part in a series of scheduled scrimmages in April.
After over a year away from the field, this abbreviated slate of scrimmages is a chance for players to get back with teammates and in the case of Punahou senior Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen, a chance to suit up for the Buffanblu one last time.
“It’s honestly really crazy, haven’t really felt like this in a while and it’s definitely different because of COVID-19.” Mendiola-Jensen told Hawaii News Now. “We never really get to see each other throughout school, so just being able to get back together with the boys and the possibility of having scrimmages and games it just builds the energy even more, we’re going to just get ready for that and hopefully kick it off.”
For Mendiola-Jensen and so many prep student-athletes around the state, the last year has been a challenging one with seasons being put on hold or canceled all together, but the defensive back says that it’s exciting to get back on the turf.
“It’s just been a roller coaster ride, not knowing for sure if we’re going to have a season or not.” Mendiola-Jensen said. “Unfortunately, it got canceled which was the down part of it, but I was glad that the ILH was able to put something together, so that we’re still able to practice and then make our own games or scrimmages, it’s going to be a great way to top off the year, top off my senior season and it would just mean the world to me to play with my boys one more time before I head out to college.”
The expected Class of 2021 graduate is already committed to the UNLV, but Mendiola-Jensen says that he got the offer while away from the game, using social media platforms during the pandemic to get the needed exposure.
“In the beginning, I was never really looked at or wasn’t really looked upon by colleges, but Twitter helped me a lot.” Mendiola-Jensen said. “With the help of Twitter I was able to post videos, (message) coaches and all of that kind of stuff, that pretty much pushed me forward, it was kind of like me selling myself to the coaches.”
Before Mendiola-Jensen heads to the ninth island, the senior will play in the set of scrimmages with the Sons of Oahu — which will look a bit different in the age of the pandemic.
Empty stands have become the new norm and the ILH will follow suit with no spectators, while all players and coaches will be wearing masks on the sidelines.
Only the three teams are confirmed to be participating with ‘Iolani and Damien considering joining in on the schedule — the first scrimmage is set for April.