Baldwin Grounds KS-Maui with Running Attack
By Rodney S. Yap
Baldwin High School fed Kamehameha Maui’s defense a steady diet of its ground game Friday and it proved to be difficult to digest.
The Warriors’ plan to catch Baldwin off guard early worked, at least through the first quarter when the Upcountry school built a 17-14 lead. But Baldwin bounced back from a two-touchdown deficit to earn a 35-20 victory at Kamehameha Maui’s Kanaiaupuni Stadium.
Baldwin improved to 2-2, while the Warriors dropped to 0-4.
The Bears offset Kamehameha Maui’s air strikes with the power running of Keanan Luis and Kawena Alo-Kaonohi. The pair successfully combined for 332 yards and four touchdowns — the bulk of that real estate coming at the expense of Kamehameha Maui’s young defensive front.
Luis found pockets of space and turned them into big-play touchdown runs of 79 and 46 yards. The 5-foot, 9-inch, 200-pound Luis averaged almost 13 yards a carry by the time he finished with 245 yards rushing on 19 totes. Alo-Kaonohi, a three-year starter at outside linebacker, picked up 87 yards on 17 carries, mostly between the tackles where he is most comfortable.
Baldwin managed to grab the momentum with Luis’ 46-yard jaunt on the second play of the fourth quarter. Kamehameha Maui answered with a 36-yard field goal by Zachery Romero with 4 minutes, 59 seconds left in the game. Romero’s second field goal trimmed Baldwin’s lead to a touchdown and a two-point conversion, 28-20, but Luis recovered the Warriors’ ensuing onside kick and Alo-Kaonohi milked the game clock before sealing the deal with a 6-yard touchdown spin up the middle with 26 seconds remaining.
Baldwin quarterback Taje Akaka-Foster showed plenty of poise and smarts down the stretch as his heady play allowed the Bears to pick up crucial first downs force Kamehameha Maui to burn its timeouts.
Luis rushed for more yards on Friday than he did in his three previous games combine (24-154) or all of last year (43-214).
Sophomore center Paula Emiliano Finau, Kaumana Garcia, Tevita Finau and Cruise Ah Chan are just some of the offensive linemen who helped pave the way for Baldwin’s 418 yards.
Besides Baldwin’s steady running game, head coach Keneke Pacheco used a timeout wisely when he huddled his team on the sidelines to regroup following KS-Maui’s second strike from quarterback Chase Newton to Maikaike English.
And again, like they have a few times already this year, Baldwin fought back. Its defensive front, led by Kala’i Pokini and Kalauga Alii Laloulu, picked up the pressure on Newton, while linebackers Nohea Keahi and Kailoa Ambrose made sure they contained the dangerous quarterback from making plays with his feet.
Aside from a field goal, KS-Maui was forced to punt most of the second half.
The Warriors unleashed their fireworks in the first half, or more specifically, the first quarter — where they gained 204 yards, 196 passing from Newton and 159 yards to wide receiver Keoni Keanini. The two were clicking early as Newton connected with Keanini for an 87-yard touchdown pass 22 seconds into the game. The lanky and athletic Keanini would finish with MIL season highs in catches (15) and yards (263) for a single game. Newton finished with 376 yards passing.
In 2010, Kamehameha Maui’s Cody Pundyke led the league with 27 receptions for 442 yards.
Although the Warriors’ defense were on their heels most of the night, they did have a few outstanding efforts from the likes of Mike Kahula, Brennon Aloy, Colton Cabanas and Ikaika Chong Kee.
Friday’s MIL Scoring Summary
At Kanaiaupuni Stadium
BEARS 35, WARRIORS 20
Baldwin ………………… 14 ….. 7 ….. 0 ….. 14—35
Kamehameha Maui ….. 17 ….. 0 ….. 0 ……. 3—20
KM—Keoni Keanini 87 pass from Chase Newton (Colton Cabanas kick), 11:38.
KM—Maikaike English 10 pass from Newton (Cabanas kick), 7:20.
BH—Kawena Alo-Kaonohi 4 run (Keli’i Kaiama kick), 4:16.
KM—Zachery Romero 45 FG, 2:11.
BH—Taje Akaka-Foster 20 run (Kaiama kick), 0:24.
BH—Keanan Luis 79 run (Kaiama kick), 4:34.
BH—Luis 46 run (Kaiama kick), 11:39.
KM—Romero 36 FG, 4:59.
BH—Alo-Kaonohi 6 run (Kaiama kick), 0:26.
* All individual statistics complied by Rob Collias of The Maui News.