Lunas Get Offensive in 35-0 Rout of Baldwin
By Rodney S. Yap
Thanks to its stout defense, the value of a touchdown at Lahainaluna continues to increase — much like the confidence in its offense.
“It goes hand-in-hand,” said Lahainaluna co-head coach Bobby Watson. “The offense scores, the defense gets hyped, so it works both ways. The defense makes a stop and our offense tries to keep the momentum going — it’s a team thing.”
On Friday, before a crowd of about 6,200 at War Memorial Stadium, the two forces were in sync and the result was a shocking 32-0 victory over Baldwin.
At this stage, stealing gold from Fort Knox may be easier than scoring against Lahainaluna’s defense, which recorded its third shutout in as many weeks. The Lunas (3-0, 4-0) enter their bye week having secured the MIL’s first-round title, while Baldwin licks its wounds and welcomes the return of quarterback Keelan Ewaliko and linebacker Jordan Hoiem.
“Basically it was our night,” Watson said. “Their best two players were out of the game and we took advantage of the fact that they weren’t there. Things went our way and didn’t go their way. It was a tough game.”
Baldwin fell to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the Maui Interscholastic League.
The game started off like the defensive duel fans expected. Than late in the first quarter, on the Lunas’ third offensive possession, the momentum began to favor the team from the west side.
It was junior quarterback Kiko Kolher-Fonohema who got the offense untracked, scrambling to extend the drive by picking up a pair of first downs. Lahainluna later called a timeout on third-and-10.
In the huddle, Kolher-Fonohema said offensive coordinator/co-head coach Garret Tihada asked his linemen about Baldwin’s interior alignment and splits.
“Then he called the play,” Kolher-Fonohema said. “It was a designed play that we worked on in practice the whole week. We knew that if they blitzed we would have the open gap, right up the middle.”
When the offense returned to the field, Kohler-Fonohema noticed Baldwin’s defensive tackles moved to protect the “B” gap, leaving the “A” gap in front of center Connor Mowat wide open.
“They lined up inside shade and then went head up (tackle to tackle),” said Kolher-Fonohema. “Everybody looked like they were coming down (blitzing) and they only had Teva (Eldridge) to cover.”
What followed was a BOOM, or the screams from the Lahainaluna side of the field, as Kolher-Fonohema exploded upfield and past Eldridge for a 64-yard touchdown.
“I had a quick snap and just followed my center. . . . Around the 20-yard line I started dying out,” he said of longest touchdown run in his career.
Having delivered the the first blow felt nice for a change, Kolher-Fonohema said.
“It felt good because they have been the big dogs for years. To score on them after coming off of last year’s losses felt great. But if it wasn’t for our linemen we wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
Kolher-Fonohema said the Lunas’ offensive scheme was built entirely around Baldwin’s defense.
“We’re happy, but we have to say humble because we still have the second half of the season,” added Kolher-Fonohema, who finished the game with a game-high 144 yards rushing on 15 carries. “But it’s nice to win, especially being the underdog all the time.”
In their last three meetings with Baldwin, the Lunas were outscored 95-0.
“We’re starting to come around,” Watson said of the offense. “Although there are things that we still need to work on, I like the progress we’re making.”
The coach also likes the leadership Kolher-Fonohema provides on offense.
“He’s making plays, a lot of big plays on third down,” the coach noted.
The Lunas offense finished with 316 total yards, scoring three times off Baldwin turnovers.
Lahainaluna’s defense allowed 124 yards, most of which came late in the fourth quarter. At halftime, Baldwin had minus-2 yards in offense to the Lunas’ 141 yards.
“It doesn’t have the same impact if one side of the ball makes a big play and the other side can not follow through. The same for special teams, it plays a big role, too. Are you going to get good field position or are you going to give up field position. Everything in the game goes hand-in-hand, it’s not just one thing phase of the game that wins the game. It takes everybody and all phases of the game to get things accomplished.”
Friday’s Scoring Summary
Lahainaluna 12 0 0 20—32
Baldwin 0 0 0 0—0
LHS—Kiko Kohler-Fonohema 64 run (run failed), 3:52; 6-0.
LHS—Tytus Lucas 3 run (pass failed), 2:48; 12-0.
LHS—Jared Rocha-Isalas 1 run (Christian Cardenas-Ayala kick), 4:59; 19-0.
LHS—Semisi Filikitonga 92 run (kick failed), 2:46; 25-0.
LHS—Jeffrey Ancog 25 interception return (Cardenas-Ayala kick), 2:38; 32-0.
Junior varsity-Lahainaluna 21, Baldwin 0.
Lahainaluna 32, Baldwin 0
King Kekaulike at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 14
Maui High at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 15
Baldwin at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.