Akaka Leads Baldwin Over Maui High to Claim Div. I Title
By Rodney S. Yap
Despite all the different looks and personnel moves Maui High School utilized, none could change the outcome of Saturday’s “Big Game” against cross-town rival Baldwin High School.
The No. 1 ranked offense in the Maui Interscholastic League showcased the open-field talents of the league’s top playmaker in quarterback Chayce Akana and the up-and-coming skills of the MIL’s best underclassman running back in Bishop Wickes.
Akana had a pair of spectacular rushing touchdowns and threw for another as Baldwin defeated Maui High, 28-14, to ensure its 11th Division I state tournament appearance in the last 12 years.
An estimated crowd of 4,000 overcame gusting winds and occasional rain at War Memorial Stadium.
Baldwin improved to 8-2 overall, and a perfect 8-0 in the MIL. The Bears’ post-season opponent has yet to be determined, but word is the MIL champions will host a first-round state tournament doubleheader on Friday, Nov. 3, with MIL Division II champion Lahainaluna playing in the nightcap at War Memorial Stadium.
Despite celebrating homecoming, which attracted standing-room-only support on the Maui High side of the stadium, the Sabers’ season comes to an abrupt end at 5-3 in the MIL and 5-5 overall.
Turns out, no individual, or team — not even Mother Nature — could contain the 6-foot, 1-inch, 175-pound Akaka. And week after week he gets more comfortable playing behind his all-senior offensive line that includes Kalei Hoewa’a, Jarred Paranada, Makana Wright, Gavin Arista and Paula Finau.
“We tell the guys that no matter where you are on the depth chart, you are only one or two plays away, and we expect them to be able to step up. Bishop is one of them, along with Daniel (Corpuz),” Lee said.
The tandem replaced the injured Kaylon Santos-Kekona and the academically ineligible Kamaka Gouviea.
On Sunday, Lee said he hopes to have Gouviea and Santos-Kekona, who is rehabbing from a MCL sprain, back this week.
“We welcome the bye week,” Lee said. “We look forward to getting everybody back.”
The Sabers’ defense lined up in a four-man front, a three-man front, moved top tackler and inside linebacker Mahonri Anitema to defensive end and still could not get to Akaka or prevent him from scoring the game’s first touchdown — a 48-yard read-option run and his first attempt to keep the ball instead of handing it off to Wickes.
“He’s even got me fooled sometimes,” Lee said of Akaka’s deceptive skill set. “Here I am watching Bishop and then there he is out the gate with the ball.”
Akaka’s second touchdown run, with 3 minutes, 52 seconds to play in the first half, came on a 16-yard jaunt where his gangly stature and shifty feet left Maui High would-be tacklers grasping at air in their desperate attempts to slow him down.
Akaka finished with 240 all-purpose yards, including 170 rushing, and sophomore Wickes added a 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and finished with 78 yards on 12 carries.
Maui High’s defense came into Saturday’s “Big Game” allowing an average of 156 yards per game.
“He’s a warrior, his body can take the beating,” Lee said. “He’s the leader of our offense and he’s going to be a good one further down the line. We don’t want to put all the pressure on him and we’re looking for other players to get involved. So we are looking forward to this next week to get ready, get prepared, get players healthy and game plan a little bit.”
Akaka’s two touchdowns and 160 yards in the first half, 14-0, proved to be too much for the Sabers’ offense, which was unable to sustain any drives against Baldwin’s defense. The only consecutive first downs the Sabers’ offense enjoyed, came via a Baldwin penalty.
The Bears’ defense, and its much-improved secondary, was led by middle linebacker Aloali’i Laga and the injection of 6-foot-5, 340-pound Finau at nose guard for the aligning Sidney Fonohema Yamamoto.
“The defense has really come along this season. I know we may have started off the season a little shaky, but we’ve made adjustments, especially scheme wise and those guys have just kept at it and have gotten better.”
Maui High took advantage of a turnover to score its first touchdown. A fumble recovery and return to the Bears’ 7-yard line set the table of Saber quarterback John-Michael Mokiao-Duvauchelle to score three plays later on a 3-yard bootleg run with 8:43 to play in the third quarter.
The Sabers opened the game lined up in the “I” formation with a tight end. At halftime they had just three first downs.
Maui High’s Hanisi Lotulelei scored his team’s other touchdown on a 48-yard run with 39 seconds left. Lotulelei finished with 101 yards on 19 carries, and almost half coming on thew late touchdown run.
Saturday’s Scoring Summary
BEARS 28, SABERS 14
At War Memorial Stadium
Baldwin 6 8 7 7—28
Maui High 0 0 7 7—14
BH–Chayce Akaka 48 run (pass failed), 9:59.
BH–Akaka 16 run (Daniel Corpuz pass from Akaka), 3:52.
MH–John-Michael Mokiao-Duvauchelle 3 run (Kalia Kapisi kick), 8:43.
BH–Bishop Wickes 15 run (Luke Maghanoy kick), 3:04.
BH—Damien Awai 9 pass from Akaka (Maghanoy kick), 3:30.
MH—Hanisi Lotulelei 48 run (Kaipisi kick), 0:39.
Junior varsity: Maui High 44, Baldwin 18.
* * *
Friday’s Scoring Summary
LUNAS 42, NA ALIIS 0
At Sue Cooley Stadium
King Kekaulike 0 0 0 0—0
Lahainaluna 15 13 7 7—42
LH–Kawehi Gillcoat 24 pass from Etuati Storer (Siale Hafoka pass from Pablo Rico), 7:32.
LH–Radon Sinenci 5 run (Rico kick), 1:54.
LH–Sinenci 9 run (Rico kick), 6:23.
LH–Sinenci 1 run (kick failed), 1:48.
LH–Kamahao Acpal 7 run (Rico kick), 6:14.
LH–Storer 31 interception return (Haaheo Au kick), 4:01.