The Sharks finish with winning record for the first time since 2017, to face Milken in first round of playoffs
When the Malibu High football team initially began preparing for their 2023 campaign, a number of the team’s players had never competed on the gridiron before.
So, Sharks head coach Mike Halualani said he and his coaches had to teach the players the basics of football and the specifics of eight-man football, a faster pace version of traditional football with the reduction of three players on offense and defense.
“It was pretty much the basics,” Halualani recalled. “We spent a lot of time on the fundamentals of tackling. Hopefully, we are still teaching. Hopefully, we are all still learning things. We still practice the basics every week. We are still learning things every time we play.”
The Sharks have learned a lot it seems — including how to win. The squad concluded the regular season Oct. 28 with a winning record for the first time since 2017. Malibu enters their Thursday night playoff matchup against the Milken Wildcats in Los Angeles with a 7-2 record. This is the first season the Sharks have qualified for the postseason since 2012.
Halualani said making the playoffs is amazing.
“It feels good,” he said. “It is a great accomplishment for the kids.”
Senior wide receiver Travis Kies said he and his teammates are excited to be in the playoffs.
“It’s the first time Malibu has made the playoffs in 11 years, so we are all really looking forward to it,” he said.
Malibu defeated Villanova Prep 34-8 in their regular season finale Oct. 28. The contest featured stellar plays and touchdowns by senior quarterback Nico Miller, senior wide receiver Travis Kies, and Travis’ brother running back Tanner Kies, a sophomore. In the second quarter, junior wide receiver Brody Graham made an amazing one-hand catch that elated the whole team.
Halualani said the team has played good throughout the regular season but is still in search of playing a complete game. The coach said before the Sharks took on an opponent, he knew they had a chance to make the playoffs despite being inexperienced.
“Once we got through the first couple of games, I saw what they had learned,” he said. “They have come far from just being a bunch of kids learning to play football.”
The Sharks recorded victories over Desert Christian, Sherman Oaks CES, Calvary Baptist, Lucerne Valley, Hillcrest Christian, and Entrepreneur this season. There losses have been to Laguna Blanca and their upcoming playoff opponent Milken, which downed Malibu 44-8 in September.
“We’re all super excited to get revenge on them,” noted Travis Kies.
Halualani said Malibu must play their best game of the season to beat Milken.
“We are playing a really good, physical team,” he said. The coach noted that the Sharks didn’t make any errors against Villanova Prep.
“We are going to have to be more efficient in the playoffs,” Halualani said.
Kies said this season has been full of great memories.
“I’ll remember all the enduring practices and games that we all went through together and hopefully I’ll remember the season had some huge playoff victories,” he said.