Maui Sports

Lunas Work for State Seeding, not State Ranking

October 9, 2012, 1:15 PM HST
* Updated October 9, 1:20 PM
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Lahainaluna co-head coach and defensive coordinator Bobby Watson talks with defensive end Hercules Mataafa during a timeout earlier this year. File photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

And now, for a word on prep football rankings.

While it would be nice to be recognized in a statewide poll or power rankings, the voters on the Honolulu Star Advertiser’s weekly Top 10 Poll or ScoringLive’s power rankings, are not the same people who determined a school’s seeding in postseason tournament play.

The way Lahainaluna co-head coach Bobby Watson sees it, media rankings take a backseat to tournament seedings.

On rankings, he said: “I know at the end of the season, (MIL Executive Secretary) Joe Balangitao will go to Honolulu for the seeding meeting and he will try everything that he can to help the Maui representatives and you just have to live with that.”

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In the current six-team, state tournament format, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds receive first-round byes. A huge advantage over the other four schools, two of which have to also endure travel.

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Watson, who is in his 34th season at Lahainaluna, said he doesn’t have time to keep up with a poll or ranking that is generated out of Oahu.

Lahainaluna (7-0 overall) is one of only two unbeaten teams in the state, yet the Lunas only cracked the Star Advertiser’s Top 10 Poll this week. Lahainaluna is tied at No. 9 with Konawaena (8-1), a team the Lunas buried here 23-6 in a first-round game of the division II tournament last year.

Kahuku, by the way, is No. 1 at 7-0 and the other unbeaten team. There are three ILH schools — Saint Louis, Kamehameha, and Iolani — in the top 10 with three losses each.

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“What we want is the bye (game), because we need to heal. Other coaches may not look at it that way, but we do. Whether it’s one week or two, it gives our kids a chance to reheal up.”

The Lunas, who have outscored the MIL 215-3, allowed their first points of the season — a 35-yard field goal — last Saturday to snap a scoreless streak of 23 1/2 quarters.

In 88 years of MIL football on the Valley Isle, no one can recall another MIL team posting five consecutive shutouts in the same season. The achievement is magnified when you include the fact that the Lunas rely on a small roster (fewer than 30 suit up) with a half dozen players going two ways.

“You’re playing the best in the playoffs and all the teams are very physical, at least on one side of the ball or even both for some teams.”

Fitness and regular maintenance of a player’s body is critical to any team’s success, and monumental to a small school like Lahainaluna.

“We still get a very good turnout in the mornings as 90% of the team is in the weight room, lifting weights or getting treatment by the trainers for this or that.”

In this week’s ScoringLive/OC16 Football Power Rankings, Lahainaluna makes its debut at No. 10. Defending MIL champion Baldwin (4-1 and 4-2 overall) is technically ranked 15th, based on the amount of votes it received.

The Lunas celebrate their homecoming Saturday at War Memorial Stadium, beginning at 7 p.m., against Division I Baldwin. The last time the two team’s met was week three of the MIL season. The Bears suffered a 32-0 shutout loss but were handicapped at quarterback, where Keelan Ewaliko was unavailable because of a rib injury, and defensively, linebacker Jordan Hoiem also did not play. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Hoiem, will see his first regular-season action on Saturday.

“We’re both going to have our share of challenges at the state playoffs,” Watson said.

Baldwin would need at least a good showing against the Lunas to even be in the conservation as a potential first-round host of the Division I state tournament game.

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