Lahainaluna Rallies to Beat Kamehameha Maui, 20-14

September 26, 2015, 1:53 PM HST · Updated September 26, 4:48 PM
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Lahainaluna quarterback Dylan Delatori throws thie first of his two touchdown passes to Ronnie Espiritu Friday night against Kamehameha Maui. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

The last time Dylan Delatori played quarterback was his freshman season three years ago.

On Friday, the Lahainaluna High School senior played the position with the poise and precision of a veteran, throwing a pair of touchdown passes to Ronnie Espiritu, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter to beat Kamehameha Maui, 20-14, at Kanaiaupuni Stadium.

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    The win put the Lunas (2-3) in the driver’s seat for the Maui Interscholastic League Division II second-round championship.

    Kamehameha Maui (2-4) beat Lahainaluna 11-7 on Aug. 22 to grab the MIL first-round Div. II title.

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    Lahainaluna wide receiver Ronnie Espiritu hauls in the first of his two touchdown catches Friday against Kamehameha Maui. Photos by Rodney S. Yap.

    If both teams handle their business the rest of the way, an overall playoff game for the division title would take place on Oct. 31.

    “I kept calling that play because I kept seeing the drag (route) open underneath and that’s where I thought he was going to throw it,” said Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada. “I had no idea he was going to throw it to the corner. . . . I guess it worked out.”

    Like a charm, in fact.

    Delatori’s second touchdown toss — a 10-yarder to Espiritu — gave the Lunas’ their first and last lead of the game with 3 minutes, 50 seconds to play.

    Espiritu adjusted his route and tempo to the corner of the end zone while battling man-to-man coverage and at the last second he jumped up to catch the ball at its highest point — above the defender, after getting behind him.

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    Kamehameha Maui’s Ikaika Chong Kee (7) finds running room Friday against Lahainaluna. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    “The kid went from no playing time last year to doing a hell of a job for us this year,” said Tihada of Espiritu. “He worked very, very hard over the offseason.”

    The Delatori-Espiritu combo also capped the team’s tying touchdown drive to open the second half. Trailing 7-0 at halftime, Tihada said: “Our seniors really stepped up at halftime and they got really emotional. After all, the bottom line is if we lose this game we’re done for the season.”

    So rather than quit, Lahainaluna executed an eight-play, 72-yard scoring drive that ended with Delatori finding Espiritu from 20 yards out.

    Not bad for a quarterback who sat out his sophomore season because of academics, and suffered a concussion at the beginning of the season last year and never really got going.

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    Lahainaluna comes after Kamehameha Maui punter Kealaula Keli’ikoa (88). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    “He was our No. 3 or 4th quarterback on our depth chart going into the season,” Tihada said of the 5-foot, 9-inch, 155-pound signal-caller. “It came down to ball security for us. And he protects the ball the best.”

    Delatori finished 3-for-7 passing for 36 yards and two scores, and ran for 61 yards on 19 carries.

    Tihada said high school football is all about “momentum.”

    “In the second half we kept making plays to keep the momentum going. Because we actually loss the momentum when we gave up that pick six.”

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    Lahainaluna, led by Nau Filiai, blocks this punt attempt by Kamehameha Maui’s Kealaula Keli’ikoa (88). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    The Warriors regained the lead 14-7 early in the fourth quarter when safety Kamuela Kaniaupio jumped the route on a flat pass and returned the interception 50 yards for a touchdown. Lahainaluna freshman Etuati Storer threw the pick when he was called in for duty with Delatori fighting cramps on the sidelines.

    “The safety did a hell of job. He was playing really, really high and made that play,” Tihada noted.

    Lahainaluna did not stay down for long, blocking a punt four minutes later to get the ball on Kamehameha’s 7-yard line, and tied the score on a 1-yard dive by Ivan Uphold-Pante with 5:32 to go.

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    Lahainaluna’s defense swarms on Kamehameha Maui running back Ikaika Chong Kee on fourth down to end the game. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    “That was huge,” Tihada said of the block punt. “And in the end I thought that was the play of the game right there.

    The Warriors jumped out to a 7-0 lead at halftime when Maika’ike English hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Kainoa Sanchez with 3:03 left in the first quarter.

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    Lahainaluna assistant defensive coordinator Kenui Watson reacts after his defense stops Kamehameha Maui on fourth down to seal the Lunas’ 20-14 come-from-behind victory Friday. Photo

    Friday’s MIL Scoring Summary

    At Kanaiaupuni Stadium

    LUNAS 20, WARRIORS 14

    Lahainaluna 0 0 7 13—20

    KS Maui 7 0 0 7—14

    First Quarter

    KS—Maikaike English 16 pass from Kainoa Sanchez (Kealaula Keliikoa kick), 3:03.

    Third Quarter

    LH—Ronnie Espiritu 20 pass from Dylan Delatori (Haaheo Au kick), 9:03.

    Fourth Quarter

    KS—Kamuela Kaniaupio 50 interception return (Keliikoa kick), 9:48.

    LH—Ivan Uphold-Pante 1 run (Au kick), 5:32.

    LH—Espiritu 10 pass from Delatori (kick failed), 3:50.

    *Note: All individual and team statistics complied by Rob Collias of The Maui News.

    Lahainaluna's Donovan Defang (21) drags a Kamehameha Maui defender. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Lahainaluna’s Donovan Defang (21) drags a Kamehameha Maui defender. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui running back Ikaika Chong Kee can not avoid the pursuit of Lahainaluna defenders. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui running back Ikaika Chong Kee can not avoid the pursuit of Lahainaluna defenders. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Pair of 4 do battle as Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez throws this ball around the block attempt of Lahainaluna defensive end Nau Filiai. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Pair of 4 do battle as Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez throws this ball around the block attempt of Lahainaluna defensive end Nau Filiai. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Lahainaluna wide receiver Ronnie Espiritu hauls in the second of his two touchdown catches Friday against Kamehameha Maui. Photos by Rodney S. Yap.

    Lahainaluna wide receiver Ronnie Espiritu hauls in the second of his two touchdown catches Friday against Kamehameha Maui. Photos by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui's Keaghan Gomes (30) reaches up to block this point after try by Lahainaluna's

    Kamehameha Maui’s Keaghan Gomes (30) reaches up to block this point after try by Lahainaluna’s

    Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez (4) throws this deep ball behind the block of teammate Covy Cremer (22). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez (4) throws this deep ball behind the block of teammate Covy Cremer (22). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui's Mike Kahula (8) and Kamuela Kaniaupio (2) sandwich Lahainaluna quarterback Dylan Delatori. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui’s Mike Kahula (8) and Kamuela Kaniaupio (2) sandwich Lahainaluna quarterback Dylan Delatori. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui's defensive coordinator Trenson Himalaya (standing) and linebackers coach Mark Vaught talks to the defense during a second-half injury time out Friday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui’s defensive coordinator Trenson Himalaya (standing) and linebackers coach Mark Vaught talks to the defense during a second-half injury time out Friday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui running back Damon Martin find the going rough against Lahainaluna's interior defense. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui running back Damon Martin find the going rough against Lahainaluna’s interior defense. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui's Ekolu Watanabe (3) jukes Lahainaluna's Elijah Ragudo (24) while returning a punt Friday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui’s Ekolu Watanabe (3) jukes Lahainaluna’s Elijah Ragudo (24) while returning a punt Friday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez (4) leads the offensive huddle Friday against Lahainaluna. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez (4) leads the offensive huddle Friday against Lahainaluna. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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    Lahainaluna assistant defensive coordinator Kenui Watson reacts after his defense stops Kamehameha Maui on fourth down to seal the Lunas’ 20-14 come-from-behind victory Friday. Photo

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    Lahainaluna’s defense swarms on Kamehameha Maui running back Ikaika Chong Kee on fourth down to end the game. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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    Lahainaluna, led by Nau Filiai, blocks this punt attempt by Kamehameha Maui’s Kealaula Keli’ikoa (88). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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    Lahainaluna comes after Kamehameha Maui punter Kealaula Keli’ikoa (88). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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    Kamehameha Maui’s Ikaika Chong Kee (7) finds running room Friday against Lahainaluna. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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    Lahainaluna wide receiver Ronnie Espiritu hauls in the first of his two touchdown catches Friday against Kamehameha Maui. Photos by Rodney S. Yap.

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    Lahainaluna quarterback Dylan Delatori throws thie first of his two touchdown passes to Ronnie Espiritu Friday night against Kamehameha Maui. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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