Maui Sports

Lunas Extend MIL Winning Streak to 16 Games

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Lahainaluna’s David Kawabata (35) tries to fend off Baldwin tackler Bryson Dela Cruz (6) Friday at War Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

All teams experience a lull, or letup, in the course of their season — it’s unavoidable.

And sometimes, unnoticeable.

But when you are top-ranked Lahainaluna High School, and you’ve raised the bar in your football program to be amongst the best in the state, there are going to be failed expectations, sometimes in the course of victory.

The unbeaten Lunas managed to shutout Baldwin 35-0 Friday at War Memorial Stadium despite playing as if it had skipped a beat before a homecoming crowd of about 3,000.


“We have a certain standard that we try and play to and it doesn’t matter who we are facing we still have to execute,” said Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada. “There were a lot of little things, a missed block here and a missed block there. Our running backs not running there proper paths, bad timing in the backfield.”


Lahainaluna quarterback Makoa Sione Filikitonga-Lukela (8) prepares to make a move on a Baldwin defender before scoring his team’s first touchdown. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.


With the win Lahainaluna improved to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the second round of the Maui Interscholastic League Division II standings. The Lunas, who have outscored their opponents by an average margin of 42-3 in the second half of the season, extended their league winning streak to 16 games.

Meanwhile, Baldwin suffered its second straight shutout and fell to 1-2 in the second round and 3-5 overall.  The Bears were held scoreless last week against MIL Division I champion Maui High, 27-0.


Lahainaluna’s Jared Rocha-Islas (23) defends against Baldwin receiver Chazzaniel Sa’u (10) during first-half action Friday at War Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Lahainaluna used its trademark defense, which held Baldwin to 114 yards, and opportunistic offense to grab a 21-0 halftime lead.


“Baldwin’s still pretty big and pretty quick, they are not the Baldwin of old, but there are still a decent team,” said Tihada on Saturday after watching the game video. “So to win 35-0 and not play your best, that’s an upside I guess.”

The Lunas clinched their 10th state tournament appearance in 12 years two weeks ago after routing King Kekaulike, 42-3. The victory Upcountry remains the zenith in their 2014 season.

Lahainaluna enjoyed a bye last week, during fall break of all things, returning to the field a day early because of Hurricane Ana, and with the distractions of homecoming.

“Yeah, that was tough for us, coming off a bye and on top of that fall break,” said Tihada, who noted the number of reserves who started against Baldwin.

“That was the happiest I was all night, to see these kids play those first three plays and they executed pretty well. They only had three plays but they did what they had to do and we’re proud of them.”


Baldwin High School coach Mark Vaught talks with freshman Chayce Akaka-Foster (12) and Anthony Tafuna (42) during a defensive break Friday night against Lahainaluna High School at War Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Lahainaluna scored all three of its first-half touchdowns after recovering Baldwin fumbles, including a 39-yard game-changer by Scott Isaac Medeiros-Tangatailoa that put the Lunas ahead 21-0.

As the team’s offensive coordinator Tihada is always looking for ways to get the ball into other player’s hands in hopes of taking some pressure off play-making quarterback Makoa Sione Filikitonga-Lukela. On Friday that player was David Kawabata. Although the sophomore running back did not score, he did gain a lot of yards in between the 20-yard markers.

Lahainaluna rolled up 150 yards in the first half compared to the Bears’ 55. Veteran two-way performer Jared Rocha-Islas rushed for two touchdowns, including a 67-yarder on the team’s bread-and-butter trap play in the third quarter. Rocha-Islas finished with 93 yards on seven carries.

Filikitonga-Lukela scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 8 minutes, 23 seconds to play in the first quarter. Connor Mowat’s fumble recovery near midfield on Baldwin’s third play from scrimmage set the table for the Lunas’ six-play scoring drive.


Lahainaluna’s Scott Isaac Medeiros-Tangatailoa (25) returns this fumble 39 yards for touchdown while following the blocking of his defensive teammates Isaiah Biga-Rogers (5), Peni Taufa (56), and Brandon Kaina. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Lahainaluna’s Josten Saribay closed out the scoring with a 36-yard touchdown run with 8:11 left in the game.

“Right now there is no real concern. We have to clean up some stuff . . . my only concern was that we didn’t really look like us. Offensively, on the line especially,” Tihada concluded.

Friday’s MIL Scoring Summary

At War Memorial Stadium


Baldwin ……….. 0 ……. 0 ….. 0 …… 0—0

Lahainaluna ….. 7 ….. 14 ….. 7 ….. 7—35

First Quarter

LH—Makoa Filikitonga 1 run (Jared Rocha-Islas kick), 8:23.

Second Quarter

LH—Rocha-Islas 4 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 2:41.

LH—Scott-Isaac Medeiros-Tangatailoa 39 fumble return (Rocha-Islas kick), 2:26.

Third Quarter

LH—Rocha-Islas 67 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 6:56.

Fourth Quarter

LH—Josten Saribay 36 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 8:11.

Junior varsity: Baldwin 15, Lahainaluna 6

* All statistics complied by Kyle Sakamoto of The Maui News.

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