LAHAINA — The Lahainaluna High School football team has now won 32 straight Maui Interscholastic League games, but few have been as tough as Saturday night’s slugfest with Maui High at Sue Cooley Stadium.
The Lunas managed just 24 yards on offense and a first down in the first half, then had to find a gargantuan goal line in the second half to survive with a 17-10 victory over the Sabers in the opening of the MIL for both. .
Lahainaluna co-head coach Dean Rickard was grateful to come out of that defensive battle 1-0. The Lunas found the goal-line position that preserved their one-point lead late in the third quarter.
“Huge,” Rickard said of the stop on the lows. “And that kind of gave us momentum after that. Again, this is our brand of football, we like to stay as tough as possible and never give up. They were inside the one meter line and we were able to stop them. And, again, the boys up front did what they had to do.
“Tonight was actually a defensive battle, both sides played a great defensive game as you can see.”
The Sabers appeared to have momentum on their side just before the Lunas’ monumental goal line. Lahainaluna took a 17-3 lead with 5:37 left in the third quarter, but Maui High immediately responded to Keoni James Ihu-Rodrigues’ 91-yard return to make it 17-10 just 15 seconds later .
Then, on the Lunas’ second play after the ensuing possession scrimmage, Maui High’s Deven Recaido intercepted Noa Gordon’s pass and returned it from 12 yards, and a 15-yard penalty from Lahainaluna on the play put the Sabers on the Lunas 14-yard line. .
Two runs later, the Sabers had the first and the 4. Two sneak by quarterback Evan Tarasenko put the ball on the 1 for third down. On the next snap, Lahainaluna senior Jaysen Akahi-Vida made a spectacular tackle on Tarasenko, who appeared to have a crease.
On the fourth and 1 goal, Maui High attempted a throw to Kupono Soberano, but he was tackled at 1, giving the ball to the Lunas.
After a 3-3 halftime tie, the Lunas seemed to take control with touchdowns on their first two possessions of the third quarter. Kainoa Keanini completed a 24-yard pass from Gordon to make it 9-3 with 9:55 left in the third.
After forcing a short, three-out punt from the Sabers, the Lunas went for 41 yards in seven plays — Kaulana Tihada dove 1 for the touchdown.
Rickard was impressed with the Sabers. He got a good look at Maui High when the teams met in a three-way scrum also involving King Kekaulike in early August.
“They were very physical tonight, everything we expected from Maui High, especially after we had the scrimmage and they showed they’re going to be a tough team in the second round for sure,” Rickard said. “Because we’re not expecting the same type of game as we had – everyone is going to improve as the season progresses and we’re anticipating another tough physical battle.
“Hats off to them and their coaching staff. They prepared their kids well and they played a tough game. For the most part it was a tough clean game and that was what was important.
Reigning MIL champion Ian-Jay Cabanilla did not play for the Lunas on Saturday after being ill last week – Rickard expects him to return soon.
The game was a defensive struggle in the first half.
After the teams traded punts to open the game, the Lunas took advantage of a Sabers fumble that was picked up by Jeremy Kahahane-Lived at the Maui High 8-yard line.
The Lunas were stopped by the Sabers defense and settled for Owen Garcia-Olea’s 22-yard field goal with 5:33 left in the first quarter.
The Sabers stopped the Lunas on tries at the Maui High 25-yard line late in the first quarter, then went for 65 yards on eight plays before tying the game on a 27-yard field goal by Sevy Sconfienza with 9 :14 to do in the first half.
The big play on the drive was a 44-yard strike from Tarasenko to Braden Albrecht that brought the ball to the Lunas 10-yard line.
While Maui High outshot Lahainaluna 92-24 yards offensively in the first half, Lahainaluna turned the tide in the second half with a 149-21 advantage in yards gained.
The game had just 286 yards of offense and 14 first downs combined. Last week in preseason wins, Maui High had 215 rushing yards and Lahainaluna had 432.
“For us, offensively, we spat, we lacked consistency, we lacked a bit of discipline” Rickard said. “We had a lot of people come in and out at the last minute, so those are really the things we need to take out of this game and fix if we expect to improve with the rest of the season ahead of us. ”
Maui High coach Aylett Wallwork said his team needs to get back to work quickly. The Lunas have this bye week, but the Sabers will face rival Baldwin on Friday.
“We still have a lot of things to settle” Wallwork says. “Hats off to them.”
When asked what his team needed to fix, Wallwork replied: “At this point, everything.”
*Robert Collias is at [email protected]
Maui High 0 3 7 0–10
Lahainaluna 3 0 14 0–17
LL–FG Owen Garcia-Olea 22, 5:33.
MH–FG Sevy Sconfienza 27, 9:14.
LL–Kainoa Keanini 24 pass from Noa Gordon (missed), 9:55.
LL – Kaulana Tihada 1 run (Tihada run), 5:37.
MH–Keoni James Ihu-Rodrigues 91 kick-off return (Sconfienza kick), 5:22.
First attempts 4 10
Races-yards 30-64 39-139
Passing yards 49 34
Total violation 113 173
Return yards 107 150
Comp-Att-Int 2-6-0 3-11-1
Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 2-15 5-48
Punts-avg 7-33.0 5-27.0
PREVIOUS – Maui High, Piercen Evans 9-30, Ihu-Rodrigues 4-20, Joe Cariaga 6-9, Evan Tarasenko 6-7, Aizley Lakalaka 1-3, Ofa Falekaono 1-1, Kupono Soberano 1-0, Braden Albrecht 1-(minus 3), team 1-(minus 3); Lahainaluna, Gordon 8-44, TJ Borges 9-35, Kaulana Tihada 16-24, Avery Baybayan 5-26, Anu Kaina 1-10.
PASSING–Maui High, Tarasenko 2-4-0–49, Cariaga 0-2-0-0; Lahainaluna, Gordon 1-4-1–24, Lyric Kahula 2-7-0–10.
RECEPTION – Maui High, Albrecht 1-44, Ihu-Rodrigues 1-5; Lahainaluna, Keanini 1-24, Tihada 1-10, Baybayan 1-0.
MISSED FIELD GOALS–Lahainaluna, Garcia-Olea 41 (SH).
Junior University – Lahainaluna 18, Maui High 0.
KING KEKAULIKE 27, BALDWIN 6
Baldwin 0 0 0 6– 6
King Kekaulike 7 14 6 0–27
KK – Tysin Zackious 17 run (Ahe Sumibcay kick), 9:13.
KK – Kalani Puu 3 run (Sumibcay kick), 4:08.
KK – Kalelepono Wong 47 run (Sumibcay kick), 1:10.
KK – Wong 26 run (missed kick), 1:10.
B–Gavin Acosta 3 run (missed run), 4:26.
First attempts 8 18
Runs-yards 29-90 49-345
Passing yards 7 21
Total offense 97,366
Return yards 104 46
Comp-Att-Int 2-11-3 1-4-1
Fumbles-lost 4-1 6-2
Penalties-yards 4-28 5-42
Punts-avg 5-27.0 1-30.0
PREVIOUS – Baldwin, Acosta 13-53, Joseph Randolph 7-25, Kaimana Kahoopii 9-12; King Kekaulike, Zackious 12-158, Wong 9-115, Puu 15-57, Kamakalei Stone 5-15, Noah Chun 1-9, A. Sumibcay 1-8, Oakley Dillon 2-2, Ikea Sumibcay 1-(minus 2 ), team 3-(under 17).
PASS–Baldwin, Kahoopii 2-11-3–7; King Kekaulike, Wong 1-4-1–21.
RECEPTION – Baldwin, Randolph 1-7, Ethan Bacos 1-0; King Kekaulike, Puu 1-21.
MISSED GROUND GOALS – none.
Junior University – Baldwin 13, King Kekaulike 0.
WL Pct PF PA
Lahainaluna 1 0 1,000 17 10
Maui High 0 1,000 10 17
Baudouin 0 1,000 6 27
WL Pct PF PA
King Kekaulike 1 0 1,000 27 6
KS Maui 0 0 0.000 0 0
King Kekaulike 27, Baudouin 6
Lahainaluna 17, Maui High 10
Friday August 26
Baldwin vs. Maui High at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday August 27
Kamehameha Maui at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.