Iolani Recaptures D-II Glory With Win Over Lunas
By Rodney S. Yap
The Lahainaluna High School football team played well, but Iolani played better.
In fact, aside from a 5-yard penalty late in the third quarter, the Raiders played flawlessly on both sides of the ball.
Top-ranked Lahainaluna had no answer for second-seeded Iolani’s up-tempo offense, which scored on five of its first six possessions en route to a 31-14 victory in the first of two state football championships Friday at Aloha Stadium.
“We were so nervous last night, none of the guys could sleep,” said Iolani quarterback Austin Jim On after the game. “It means a lot to us because last year we couldn’t bust through to this game and we knew we were facing a great team. The coaches had a great game plan for us and we were able to execute on offense and defense. To bring the title home, means a lot to us.”
Jim On was spectacular, completing 20 of 24 pass attempts for 239 yards and two touchdowns. After the game he was named OC16 Sports’ “Impact Player of the Game” for Iolani.
A matinee crowd of about 10,000 was on hand to watch the Raiders win their eighth D-II championship and first since 2012. Like Lahainaluna, Iolani was eliminated in the semifinals last year. The 28-7 loss to Kauai snapped the team’s consecutive state title streak at six.
Lahainaluna, ranked No. 1 all year, had its hopes of winning the elusive D-II trophy dashed by Iolani for the third time. The bitter pill for the Lunas was the 17-point deficit, which is considerably more than the three-point loss (36-33) it suffered in 2012 or the seven-point (28-21) difference in 2007.
The previously unbeaten Lunas (10-1) also failed to match the Maui Interscholastic League record 11 wins the Lahainaluna champions from 1997 earned after kicking off the season with a non-league loss. The 2014 Lunas were also on the cusp of becoming the first MIL champion to finish its season unbeaten since Maui High (9-0) did so in 1995 under Curtis Lee.
“The kids were very motivated. They were embarrassed, they were hurt that the streak was broken on their watch and they were determined to get it back,” Iolani head coach Wendell Look said. “And what these kids did this summer and this year is amazing. They took it to the next level and made it about family. That was their mantra all year and they created a family and that’s what got us through the season and to this point.”
“I learned a life lesson tonight, that no matter how small you are as the underdog, you can bust through. Size does not matter, it’s the heart that counts,” Jim On said. “Lahainaluna definitely did a great job but I’am just thankful that we were able to push through.”
Iolani was able to sustain drives by making key first downs on 7 of 9 third-down situations in the first half, compared to the Lunas’ 2-of-5.
The Raiders won the toss, elected to receive and took the game’s opening drive 60 yards in 12 plays, ending with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jim On to Kordell Makekau. Iolani used a balanced attack, passing seven times and running the ball five times.
From the beginning, Iolani demonstrated a level of sharpness or crispness in its game that Lahainaluna was going to have to match or take away if it was going to keep pace with the Raiders.
The message the Raiders sent on the opening scoring drive was more about execution, than preparation.
Two examples of execution prevailing came on the game’s first third-and-long situation when Jim On connected with Tyler Teruya for an 11-yard strike and first down. The next indicator came five plays later, on 3rd-and-three, when Jim On hit Teruya again for a first down, this time on a 12-yard pass reception.
Lahainaluna moved the ball on the ground, gaining 235 yards, but fumbles killed two third-quarter drives that consumed almost 9 1/2 minutes of the game clock. In the other 2 1/2 minutes, Iolani increased its 18-point halftime (24–6) lead with a 3-yard touchdown run by Storm Lotomau. Evan Minami’s extra-point kick made it 31-6.
Lahainaluna quarterback Makoa Sione Filikitonga-Lukela scored both of Lahainaluna’s touchdowns, running in from 1-yard out in the second quarter and from 6-yards away with 7:55 to play in the game. The senior signal-caller suffered an injury to his throwing hand and played the second half with it heavily taped.
Filikitonga-Lukela finished with a team-high 83 yards rushing on 16 carries, the longest was a 16-yarder. In the end, Lahainaluna relied on a 43-yard halfback pass from Jared Rocha-Islas to Scott Isaac Medeiros-Tangatailoa to set-up its final score.
Anson Cabanilla had nine carries for 68 yards, including one for 26 yards, the team’s longest run from scrimmage. Rocha-Islas also ran for 59 yards on eight carries
The Raiders held the ball for 10 minutes in the fourth quarter, including 15 plays and 7:24 on their final possession.
Makekau finished with 105 yards receiving on nine receptions, his sixth 100-yard-plus games this season.
Click here for Division II game statistics.
Division I: Mililani Outscores Punahou 53-45
In the nightcap Friday, No. 2 Mililani defeated No. 1 Punahou, 53-45, in the highest-scoring game in the First Hawaiian Bank state football tournament history. The win gave the Trojans their first Division I crown before 19,254 fans at Aloha Stadium.
The Trojans (13-0) became the 19th Oahu team to finish unbeaten and untied, denying Punahou (8-1) back-to-back perfect seasons.
The final score was among the many mind-boggling numbers the two teams put up.
* Punahou gained 630 and Mililani had 584.
* Mililani quarterback McKenzie Milton completed 29 of 47 passes for 421 yards and seven touchdowns, one shy of the tournament record set by Saint Louis’ Timmy Chang in the 1999 quarterfinals against Waianae.
* Punahou quarterback Ephraim Tuliloa completed 17 off 33 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
* Punahou running back Wayne Taulapapa had 260 yards rushing, including three touchdowns.
* Mililani receiver Kalakaua Timoteo caught seven balls for 117 yards and four touchdowns, tying the record held by Saint Louis’ Desmond Hanohano in the 2003 quarterfinals.
* Punahou kicker Jet John Toner set a tournament record with a 53-yard field goal, breaking the previous long of 49 set by Kahuku’s Cameron Mercado in 2009 against Farrington in the semifinals.