Filikitonga Makes Two-Way Presence Felt in LHS Win

September 23, 2012, 7:13 PM HST · Updated September 23, 7:15 PM
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Lahainaluna defensive end Sam Filiai (57) wraps up Maui High running back Justin McCrary deep in the Saber backfield during first-half action Friday at War Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

Pound-for-pound, Lahainaluna High School’s Semisi Filikitonga is rapidly proving he’s the best football player in the Maui Interscholastic League.

For the fourth time in five weeks, the 5-foot, 5-inch, 140-pound senior demonstrated a prowess rarely seen by two-way players his size.

On Saturday, Filikitonga scored two rushing touchdowns and had one interception for touchdown as Lahainaluna ran its MIL win/shutout streak to four, trouncing Maui High 41-0 before and estimated crowd of 3,200 at War Memorial Stadium.

Lahainaluna’s Semisi Filikitonga (43) recovers the fumble he forced in the Maui High backfield as teammates Hercules Mataafa (50) and Connor Mowat (54) look on. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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“He’s really come around this year,” Lahainaluna co-head coach Bobby Watson said of Filikitonga. “I think he’s really playing beyond his potential right now. His leadership defensively and all that . . . he’s taking over and playing with a reckless abandon.”

Nobody makes more impact plays on both sides of the line than Filikitonga.

“No doubt about it, he plays big for his size, and when he comes, he comes with full force. We all have come to enjoy watching him play,” Watson added.

Filikitonga — the defensive back — is the equivalent of shut-down defender in basketball. Often matched up with the opponent’s top offensive threat, Filikitonga’s play has forced offenses to change their game plan and his presence behind the line of scrimmage has resulted in a number of turnovers.

On Saturday, Filikitonga forced a fumble by interrupting a Saber handoff and then alertly recovered the ball. The impact play put the ball on the Sabers’ 6-yard line and Filikitonga completed his destructive trilogy by scoring three plays later on a run from 3-yards out.

Lahainaluna’s Semisi Filikitonga scored three touchdowns Saturday against Maui High, two by rushing and one on an interception return. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

At the 2012 Maui Football Combine in June, Filikitonga tested No. 3 overall (from 90 total players). Only Baldwin High School’s Keelan Ewaliko and Abraham Reinhardt tested higher overall in the combine’s five disciplines — 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, pro-agility shuttle, and 3-cone drill.

Coaching has played a big part in Filikitonga’s development. A marginal player a year ago, Filikitonga’s offseason commitment lowered his 40-yard dash time from a 4.95 hand time in 2011 to a 4.59 (FAT) fully-automatic time. He also improved his 3-cone time from 7.38 to 6.82 and raised his vertical jump 21/2 inches to 33.5.

In addition to improving his combine numbers, Filikitonga strengthen his techniques and fundamentals. At a Maui Pop Warner coaches clinic over the summer, Watson chose Filikitonga and quarterback Kiko Kolher-Fonohema to demonstrate proper progressive tackling technique. In textbook fashion, the undersized Filikitonga can be seen shaking would-be blockers and bringing down opposing running backs on the spot.

Lahainaluna’s Mark Alamon scores on this 58-yard pass reception from quarterback Kiko Kolher-Fonohema Friday against Maui High. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Early in the second half, under mercy rule, Filikitonga capped the night’s scoring with his fourth touchdown of the season — a 40-yard interception return. And not one to take plays off, he thwarted the next Maui High possession when he forced and recovered another fumble in the backfield.

The Lunas have outscored their MIL competition 138-0, scoring 68% of their points in the second half and averaging a league best 34.5 points per game.

Kolher-Fonohema capped an eight-play, 67-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 4:27 mark in the first quarter. He score was his league best sixth rushing touchdown of the season. The quarterback also completed seven of nine passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. His first scoring strike went to Tytus Lucas with 3:40 left in the half and the other was a 58-yard laser to Mark Alamon two minutes later.

 

Saturday’s Scoring Summary

Lahainaluna 7 7 28 6—41

Maui High 0 0 0 0—0

First Quarter

LHS—Kiko Kohler-Fonohema 2 run (Reece Sinenci kick), 4:27.

Second Quarter

LHS—Semisi Filikitonga 5 run (run failed), 10:24.

LHS—Tytus Lucas 4 pass from Kohler-Fonohema (John Lacuesta pass from Kohler-Fonohema), 3:40.

LHS—Mark Alamon 58 pass from Kohler-Fonohema (Christian Cardenas-Ayala kick), 1:29.

LHS—Filikitonga 3 run (Cardenas-Ayala kick), 0:26.

Third Quarter

LHS—Filikitonga 40 interception return (pass failed), 8:08.

Junior varsity—Lahainaluna 16, Maui High 0.

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