Lunas Advance to Div. II State Title Game With Win at Kona
By MauiNow.com Staff
The last time a pair of Neighbor Island teams played for the state Division II football championship, King Kekaulike High School returned to the Valley Isle with the winning hardware, knocking off Kauai in the 2006 final at Aloha Stadium, 33-20.
Two of the most dominant Division II football programs in the 50th state the last five years — Lahainaluna (8-4) and Kapaa (8-1) high schools — punched their championship tickets Saturday, by winning their respective semifinal games.
Lahainaluna handled its business on the road, outscoring host Konawaena 21-7 in the second half en route to a 28-14 victory at Julian Yates Field on the Big Island. Meanwhile, top-seeded Kapaa turned back Damien, 21-14, at Vidinha Stadium on the Garden Isle.
The 2016 First Hawaiian Bank/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II State Championship will be decided on Friday, Nov. 18, at Aloha Stadium, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Iolani and Mililani will play in the night cap at 7:30 p.m. for the state Division I championship.
Lahainaluna will be playing in its third Div. II state championship contest in the last five years, and its fourth title game since the birth of the Div. II tournament in 2003. Kapaa will be making its second straight championship final appearance, losing to Radford 30-16 last year.
On Saturday, Lahainaluna broke open a 7-7 first-half tie, two minutes into the second half when fourth-year senior Donavan Defang scored on a pair of touchdown runs in a span of 39 seconds.
Defang’s first score came on a 19-yard run that capped a four-play, 39-yard drive, with 9 minutes, 59 seconds to play in the third quarter. Then Hoaka Phillips recovered a Konawaena fumble at the 1-yard line on the ensuing kickoff and two plays later Defang punched it in to give the Lunas the momentum and, more importantly, a 21-7 lead.
Lahainaluna would score 21 unanswered points after Konawaena grabbed a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard pass from Austin Ewing to Kamakana Ching at 4:06 of the first quarter.
The Lunas rolled up 295 yards in offense, all on the ground, with freshman Joshua Tihada leading all ball-carriers with 103 yards rushing on nine carries. Tihada sealed the deal by scoring on a 43-yard jaunt with 3:45 left to play in the game.
As it has done all year, the Lunas’ defense played stellar, coming up with key stops that included two turnover on downs. They also forced a fumble to prevent a potential score in the second quarter and intercepted Konawaena quarterback Austin Ewing three times. Defang had a pick, Bailey Honda had one and freshman Derek Perez had the other.
Unaloto Pahulu led the Lunas in tackles with 6.5. He also had a sack and a forced fumble. Phillips had two sacks and five solo tackles.
Defang finished with 56 yards on 13 carries, and he had five tackles on defense. Etuati Storer had 49 yards on nine carries, and six tackles on defense.
Konawaena, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II champion, saw its season come to a close with an 8-2 record. It was the second straight year that the Wildcats came up short in the semifinals.
The Wildcats’ defense was led by Michael Banana-Brock’s 11.5 tackles.
NOTE: Lahainaluna beat Konawaena five years ago, 23-6, using its defense to spark the Div. II playoff win. The Lunas finished with 7 interceptions and returned a fumble for a 61-yard touchdown. The win enabled the Lunas to advance to the semifinals at Waipahu the following week for the first time in four years. Lahainaluna eventually lost to Waipahu, the team they beat a week ago on the Valley Isle 52-14.
LUNAS 28, WILDCATS 14
Saturday’s Game Summary
At Julian Yates Field
Lahainaluna 0 7 14 7— 28
Konawaena 7 0 7 0 — 14
KO—Kamakana Ching, 4 pass from Austin Ewing (Harry Hill kick), 4:06
LH—Radon Sinenci, 1 run (Pablo Rico kick), 9:15
LH—Donavan Defang, 19 run (Bailey Honda run failed), 9:59
LH—Defang 1 run (Elijah Ragudo run), 9:20
KO—Ching 1 pass from Micah Laban (Hill kick), 1:22
LH —Joshua Tihada 43 run (Rico kick), 3:45
PASSING – Lahainaluna: Etuati Storer 0-3-2-0, Donovan Defang 0-1-0-0, Enele Scanlan 0-1-1-0. Konawaena: Austin Ewing 23-42-3-276, Micah Laban 1-1-0-1, 0-1-0-0.
RUSHING – Lahainaluna: Joshua Tihada 9-103, Donovan Defang 13-56, Etuati Storer 9-49, Justice Tihada 8-43, Dean Miyamoto 7-24, Aliksa Pidha 2-11, Elijah Ragudo 9-10, Radon Sinenci 2-7, Team 2-(-3), Bailey Honda 2-(-5). Konawaena: Micah Laban 13-63, Austin Ewing 7-9, Michael Banagan-Brock 1-0, Team 1-(-1), Reyson Ching 1-(-10).
RECEIVING – Lahainaluna: none. Konawaena: Austin Aukai 7-126, Jeremiah Casuga-Llanes 2-69, Reyson Ching 5-43, Kaanoi Rivera-Kelekolio 5-34, Micah Laban 3-7, Kaiya Leleiwi 1-1, Javen Blackhat 1-(-3).