Warriors Blank King Kekaulike in MIL Football Opener, 43-0
By Rodney S. Yap
A well-prepared Kamehameha Schools Maui team ran over Upcountry cross-town rival King Kekaulike 43-0 in the Maui Interscholastic League football season opener Thursday night.
Junior running back Damon Martin rushed for an unofficial school record 244 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries to lead the Warriors to a convincing victory in the league debut of rookie head coach Ulima Afoa.
Martin showed plenty of toughness running the ball into the teeth of the Na Alii defense, but it was his ability to find daylight after the initial contact and out-race the pursuit that was particularly impressive.
Martin scored on a 73-yard jaunt with 4 minutes, 22 seconds to play in the first quarter and his 19-yard touchdown run at the start of the second quarter put Kamehameha Maui ahead 34-0 at halftime. The 5-foot, 10-inch, 175-pound running back torched King Kekaulike’s defense for 210 yards by intermission.
The majority of Damon’s yards — and the team’s two other rushing touchdowns — came behind the blocking of senior center Kawehi Raboy-McGowan (5-9, 220) and returning MIL all-star senior lineman Makai Mossman, who at 5-11, 280 pounds is now playing guard.
King Kekaulike suited up 32 and Kamehameha Maui dressed 31.
Both teams had players going two ways, and Na Alii welcomed 12 freshmen to their roster earlier this week as a result of not having junior varsity team this year.
The Warriors’ defense was led by linebackers Kiha Mossman (junior) and Ty Tau-a (sophomore). The defense forced six Na Alii fumbles and recovered three, scoring touchdowns following each takeaway. In fact, Nathan Facuri returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown with 1:24 left in the first quarter.
“Certainly the score or the outcome is not what we wanted, but there were actually some positives from what we saw last night,” said Kekaulike first-year, co-head coach Tyson Valle. “We gave them a lot opportunities with our mistakes. We definitely need to hold on to the ball better, we had a lot of fumbles and a lot of miss tackles, so we have a lot to work on this week.
“I think all-in-all our kids fought hard and it was good to see,” added Valle. “It was our first true football game that we played at King Kekaulike and it didn’t get out of control. The mentality of the team was right and the players played hard all the way ’til the end and that is what we are after. Now it’s a matter of fixing our mistakes and how do we move on from here.”
King Kekaulike did not have a preseason game lined up as Valle and co-head coach Dennis Dias were hired to replace Kyle Sanches in December. Sanches resigned after three seasons and a 2-24 record. Na Alii finished 0-9 last season, including a second-round forfeit to Maui High.
“We tried to reach out to several teams but they were all pretty much booked for this season, but we definitely got things locked down for next season and we’re excited about that. But a preseason game means a lot. It gives you a chance to see what you have and make adjustments before the start of the season.
“But like I said I’m proud of the kids and I’m proud of the coaching staff. For the most part, our kids are in condition. I think the strength is there and the mind-set is there, and the kids never gave up.”
Na Alii have 21 juniors listed on their roster and was led by strong safety Lucas Tamayose’s play defensively. The offense, which did not throw a pass, was led by sophomore quarterback Cameron Russell.
Kamehameha’s veteran quarterback Kainoa Sanchez ran for one touchdown and threw a 10-yard pass to Kealaula Keliikoa for the game’s opening points. Keliikoa was five for six in extra-pint kicks for the Warriors.
King Kekaulike was held to 62 yards on offense.
MauiNow.com’s attempts to reach Warrior head coach Ulima Afoa were unsuccessful.
Na Alii plays the remainder of their season on Friday night, starting with next week’s 7 p.m. game against Maui High at War Memorial Stadium.
Kamehameha Maui hosts Baldwin on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m., following junior varsity action, which starts at 4:30 p.m.
Baldwin plays Edison of Southern California on Saturday, Aug. 20, at the War Memorial Stadium, beginning at 7 p.m.
All MIL football games can be heard live on ESPN AM-900 with play-by-play veteran Barry Helle calling the action.
WARRIORS 43, NA ALII 0
At King Kekaulike Stadium
Thursday’s Scoring Summary
KS Maui 20 14 9 0—43
King Kekaulike 0 0 0 0—0
KM—Kealaula Keliikoa 10 pass from Kainoa Sanchez (Keliikoa kick), 6:59.
KM—Damon Martin 73 run (kick failed), 4:22.
KM—Nathan Facuri 22 fumble return (Keliikoa kick), 1:24.
KM—Martin 19 run (Keliikoa kick), 8:38.
KM—Trystin Catan 5 run (Keliikoa kick), 1:47.
KM—Sanchez 1 run (Keliikoa kick), 9:31.
KM—Safety, Lucas Tamayose tackled in end zone, 1:59.
Note: All individual statistics were compiled by Robert Collias of The Maui News.