Lunas Overcome Errors in Victory Against Warriors
By Rodney S. Yap
Good football teams can overcome mistakes, penalties and other miscues.
Lahainaluna High School is a good football team — with the potential to be a great football team if they can avoid the type of errors that caused them to lose the ball four times Saturday.
Kamehameha Maui benefited from the Lunas’ turnovers and seven penalties for 65 yards despite losing 42-7 to the Division II state runner-up from a year ago.
A War Memorial Stadium crowd of about 3,500 watched the Maui Interscholastic League contest.
Lahainaluna mixed up its running attack, exploding for 28 second-quarter points en route to its first league win of the 2013 season. The Lunas are 3-0 overall, while the Warriors are now 1-1 after handing first-year head coach Cody Nakamura his first league win, 29-0, last week against King Kekaulike.
For years, the Lunas have offset their offensive woes with stout defensive effort and Saturday was no different, allowing the Warriors just two yards rushing and 108 yards in total offense.
Using its diversified running attack and a stable of ball carriers, Lahainaluna rolled up 490 yards in total offense, which translated to: 152 yards and two touchdowns from Christian Whitehead; 87 more yards and a touchdown from Kiko Taylor Kolher-Fonohema; 128 yards passing, 44 yards rushing and a touchdown from quarterback Makoa Filikitonga; and two more touchdowns from Jared Rocha-Isalas.
Lahainaluna was particularly good in the red zone, scoring on all its opportunities inside the 20. Whitehead’s 80-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes, 34 seconds to play in the game, put the Lunas ahead by 35 points and the game in mercy rule.
Lahainaluna plays King Kekaulike on Friday, Sept. 6, at War Memorial Stadium.
“I thought our team gave great effort,” said Kamehameha Maui first-year head coach Cody Nakamura. “They played hard all four quarters and they never quit. I thought our defense did really well actually, getting four turnovers. The problem was our offense wasn’t helping the defense at all.”
The first of three fumble recoveries help set up the Warriors’ only touchdown — a 6-yard strike from quarterback Chase Newton to Chase Alexander with 1 minute, 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Warrior touchdown, followed by Kailoa Akoi’s point-after kick, made it 7-7. But Alexander tweaked his ankle on the play and had to be helped off the field. He did not return and his absence appeared to take the wind out of Kamehameha Maui’s sails.
“I know I was so excited,” said Coach Nakamura. “But when Chase went down, it seemed we went downhill after that. Injuries are a part of the game and the next guy in line has to be ready top step up.”
While Nakamura would love a quick fix for his offensive problems, he admits the schemes in the spread formations are complicated and the learning curve is different for everyone.
“The receivers have to make a lot of quick decisions in a matter of seconds. So there is a lot of thinking involved and sometimes it’s hard to just play when you’re thinking so much.”
One player who has managed to overcome all the mental challenges thrown at him is quarterback Newton.
“Chase has had a lot on his plate. We have thrown a lot at him in a short time,” Nakamura added. “In the spring we didn’t expect to play him at quarterback. He was playing receiver and would have been great at that position, but things changed in the fall and we needed to put him at quarterback. And he’s doing a great job on short notice.”
Defensively, Nakamura praise the play of Siaosi Ngalu, the Warriors’ returning defensive tackle, and linebacker Rusty Hue Sing, who was the team’s starting nose guard last year.
“Colton Cabanas also had a good game. He showed up everywhere and was making plays for us on both sides of the ball.”
Nakamura and the Warriors face Baldwin on Saturday, Sept. 7, at War Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
It won’t be just another MIL game because more than half of the current Kamehameha Maui staff are graduates and former players and coaches of Baldwin.
“The guys on the other side are still my close friends. Of course we want to win, but no matter what happens on the field, when the game is done we are still going to be friends.”
Saturday’s Game Summary
At War Memorial Stadium
Lahainaluna (1-0) 7 28 0 7—42
Kamehameha Maui (1-1) 7 0 0 0— 7
LH—Christian Whitehead 1 run (Jared Rocha-Isalas kick), 6:42.
KS—Chase Alexander 6 pass from Chase Newton (Kailoa Akoi kick), 1:10.
LH—Rocha-Isalas 3 run (Rocha-Isalas kick), 11:27.
LH—Makoa Filikitonga 56 run (Rocha-Isalas kick), 8:23.
LH—Taylor Kohler-Fonohema 11 run (Rocha-Isalas kick), 4:41.
LH—Rocha-Isalas 1 run (Rocha-Isalas kick), 2:33.
LH—Whitehead 80 run (Rocha-Isalas kick), 10:34.
Junior varsity—Kamehameha Maui 28, Lahainaluna 27.
SABERS 32, NA ALII 7
Despite more than a dozen injuries, Maui High bounced back from its season-opening loss to Baldwin (33-13) on Saturday with a convincing 32-7 road win Upcountry at King Kekaulike.
Junior Onosai Emelio had a career night for the Sabers against his former teammates, scoring three touchdowns while accounting for 142 total yards. The two-way player, who also starts at linebacker, rushed for the game’s first score from 1-yard out with 10 minutes, 22 seconds showing in the first quarter.
About six minutes later, Emelio hauled in a 22-yard pass from quarterback Tyson Takabayashi. Jared Kapisi’s extra-point kick made it 14-0. Kapisi also added a touchdown reception from 34 yards near the end of the first period and a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Emelio capped the scoring for the Sabers early in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard run. Takabayashi, who threw for 102 yards in the first half, ran for a two-point conversion and found Kapisi for a 34-yard touchdown toss in the final two minutes of the first quarter.
King Kekaulike’s only score came on an 84-yard run by junior quarterback Ryley Widell on the first play of the second quarter.
Na Alii suited up 29 players after being hit with multiple injuries last week against Kamehameha Maui. Among the more serious casualties was the loss of junior linebacker Noah Borling.
Widell was sacked four times, but still managed to produce the team’s only offense for the second-straight week, rolling up 114 rushing yards and 116 passing.
Saturday’s Game Summary
At King Kekaulike Stadium
Maui High (1-1) 21 3 0 8—32
King Kekaulike (0-2) 0 7 0 0—7
MH—Onosai Emelio 1 run (Jared Kapisi kick), 10:22.
MH—Emelio 24 pass from Tyson Takabayashi (Kapisi kick), 4:06.
MH—Kapisi 34 pass from Takabayashi (Kapisi kick), 1:59.
KK—Ryley Widell 84 run (Micah McDonald kick), 11:43.
MH—Kapisi 32 FG, 7:40.
MH—Emelio 13 run (Takabayashi run), 10:21.
Junior varsity—King Kekaulike 28, Maui High 0.