Warriors Prevail Against Upcountry Rival Na Alii, 20-12

October 4, 2015, 12:38 PM HST · Updated October 4, 1:24 PM
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By Rodney S. Yap

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Kamehameha Maui’s Maika’ike English catches this 20-yard touchdown pass by leaping leaping above the defensive coverage fronting him. The score padded the Warriors lead to 20-9 with 90 seconds left in the game. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

It was a game all of Upcountry Maui could be proud of.

In the end, however, Kamehameha Schools Maui earned bragging rights to the unofficial Upcountry title over cross-town rival King Kekaulike, rallying behind a pair of touchdown passes late in the game to squeeze out a 20-12 victory.

Both teams showed tremendous poise and gumption down the stretch Saturday — combining for 22 points in the final half of the fourth quarter — but the Warriors’ top playmakers sealed their fate by overcoming the pressure and executing when it counted. Not an easy task in the cold confines of King Kekaulike Stadium, where a sparse crowd of about 800 endured a persistent drizzle and gusting wind conditions.

Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez delivered the go-ahead touchdown pass to Ekolu Watanabe while scrambling to his left under heavy pursuit. The 15-yard touchdown reception came with 4 minutes, 53 seconds left in the game and erased King Kekaulike’s 9-7 lead established two minutes before.

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King Kekaulike quarterback Cameron Russell scores on this 1-yard dive up the middle. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

On the ensuing possession, the Warriors’ defense pinned Na Alii deep in their own territory and middle linebacker Mike Kahula tackled punter Kawika Akahi after his fake attempt failed to pick up a first down.

Kamehameha Maui worked the game clock with consecutive running plays before Sanchez launched a spiral into the corner of the end zone that Maika’ike English caught by leaping above the defensive back fronting him. The 20-yard touchdown pass padded the Warriors lead to 20-9 and came with 90 seconds left to play.

Na Alii showed no quit and no ill affects of their tumultuous week that included a forfeit to Maui High and the arrest of a player by the Maui Police Department for an alleged theft involving members of the school’s junior varsity team at Lahainaluna.

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    Kekaulike responded by going 72 yards in nine plays before Akahi kicked a 25-yard field goal with 15 seconds left. An unsuccessful onside kick closed out a very entertaining Maui Interscholastic League game, allowing the Warriors to level their record at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the second round.

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    King Kekaulike defensive back Martin Flores celebrates after coming up with an interception off a tipped ball in the end zone. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike remains winless at 0-6, 0-2 in the second round.

    Kamehameha built a 7-3 halftime lead and a 200 to 20 advantage in offensive yardage. The Warriors finished with 313 yards in offense compared to King Kekaulike’s 168.

    The Warriors’ Ikaika Chong Kee led all runners with 70 yards on seven carries. His 39-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 gave Kamehameha the early lead with 6:53 in the first quarter. He also caught a 38-yard screen pass that set the table for Watanabe’s go-ahead score.

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    Kamehameha Maui’s Mike Kahula (8) attempts to break up this option play by hitting King Kekaulike quarterback Cameron Russell as he pitches the ball to the trailing Frank Abreu (7). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Quarterback Cameron Russell helped King Kekaulike engineer its best drive of the game — 10 plays, 59 yards — by working himself into the zone on a 1-yard dive with 6:53 to play. Russell heaved a pair of first-down passes into the wind that sophomore receiver Damon Madera managed to adjust his body to and catch, despite being closely defended.

    Na Alii’s defense was led by the sure tackling of senior linebacker Joseph Shutsa. Antonio Savou also had a big game, including an interception of a Sanchez pass that thwart a Warriors’ scoring threat. Junior Martin Flores also intercepted Sanchez, grabbing a tipped pass in the end zone before halftime.

    Kamehameha’s defense was led by the play of Kahula, English, Keaghan Gomes and Kupono Duarte.

    Saturday’s MIL Scoring Summary

    WARRIORS 20, NA ALII 12

    At King Kekaulike Stadium

    Kamehameha Maui 7 0 0 13—20

    King Kekaulike 0 3 0 9—12

    First Quarter

    KM—Ikaika Chong Kee 39 run (Kealaula Keliikoa kick), 6:53.

    Second Quarter

    KK—FG Kawika Akahi 40, 4:29.

    Fourth Quarter

    KK—Cameron Russell run (kick blocked), 6:53.

    KM—Ekolu Watanabe 15 pass from Kainoa Sanchez (pass failed), 4:53.

    KM—Maika’ike English 20 pass from Sanchez (Keliikoa kick), 1:30.

    KK—FG Akahi 25, 0:15

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

    King Kekaulike's Damon Madera finds the going tough against Kamehameha Maui's defense, led by Mike Kahula (8) and Maika'ike English (13). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike’s Damon Madera finds the going tough against Kamehameha Maui’s defense, led by Mike Kahula (8) and Maika’ike English (13). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui celebrates Ekolu Watanabe's go-ahead touchdown catch Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui celebrates Ekolu Watanabe’s go-ahead touchdown catch Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez throws this pass to Ekolu Watanabe while King Kekaulike's defense closes in. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez throws this pass to Ekolu Watanabe while King Kekaulike’s defense closes in. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanches manages to avoid the grasp of King Kekaulike's Rilee Peters. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanches manages to avoid the grasp of King Kekaulike’s Rilee Peters. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike quarterback Cameron Russell looks for running room in traffic near the goal line Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike quarterback Cameron Russell looks for running room in traffic near the goal line Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike's coaches and players celebrate a huge catch at the opposite side of the field that helped Na Alii score their first touchdown of the game. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike’s coaches and players celebrate a huge catch at the opposite side of the field that helped Na Alii score their first touchdown of the game. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike's defense has all eyes on its coordinator and head coach Kyle Sanches . Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike’s defense has all eyes on its coordinator and head coach Kyle Sanches . Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    The back of King Kekaulike head coach Kyle Sanches, who happened to take a break from the head phones in the second half Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    The back of King Kekaulike head coach Kyle Sanches, who happened to take a break from the head phones in the second half Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui running back Ikaika Chong Kee led all rushers Saturday with 70 yards. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui running back Ikaika Chong Kee led all rushers Saturday with 70 yards. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike's offense take a break during a second-half timeout Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike’s offense take a break during a second-half timeout Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike players Kaena Po'ouahi and Jessie Van Zandt (16) share a moment as the exit the playing field Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike players Kaena Po’ouahi and Jessie Van Zandt (16) share a moment as the exit the playing field Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike High School band plays for the home team as the players run out of the locker room to start the second half. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike High School band plays for the home team as the players run out of the locker room to start the second half. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike's Micah Taberna tries to set up his blocking for a big run Saturday against Kamehameha Maui. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike’s Micah Taberna tries to set up his blocking for a big run Saturday against Kamehameha Maui. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui's Covy Cremer (22) gets around a King Kekaulike would-be tackler Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui’s Covy Cremer (22) gets around a King Kekaulike would-be tackler Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui's Ekolu Watanabe fields this punt and looks for running room. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui’s Ekolu Watanabe fields this punt and looks for running room. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike's Antonio Savou (15) intercepts this Kamehameha Maui pass as teammate Larry Manalo (17) looks on. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    King Kekaulike’s Antonio Savou (15) intercepts this Kamehameha Maui pass as teammate Larry Manalo (17) looks on. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui's Ikaika Chong Kee (7) tries to get around King Kekaulike's Joseph Shutsa (6). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui’s Ikaika Chong Kee (7) tries to get around King Kekaulike’s Joseph Shutsa (6). Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui's Maika'ike English (13) grabs a piece of King Kekaulike's Kawika Akahi (11) in the Na Alii backfield Friday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

    Kamehameha Maui’s Maika’ike English (13) grabs a piece of King Kekaulike’s Kawika Akahi (11) in the Na Alii backfield Friday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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