Damien defeats tenacious Maui Warriors in pre-season football

Photo by Maile Sur
Quarterback Chase Newton runs and looks for a pass while being trailed by a Damien defender during a pre-season game at Kana'iaupuni Stadium on August 10, 2013. The KS Warriors lost 29-21.

By Maile Sur, staff writer

With just a minute left in the game and the score 7-29 in Damien’s favor, many fans were already heading for the parking lot at the KSM preseason football match-up at Kanaʻiaupuni Stadium last night.

But those early leavers missed the most exciting football to hit Pukalani in years, with the Warriors pulling to within just one touchdown of a tie in sixty action-packed final seconds.

Though the Monarchs won, 29-21, the Warriors didn’t make it easy.

Warriors Athletic Director Blane Gaison said, “They never gave up.”

“We had everyone on the team supporting each other…we have heart,” quarterback Chase Newton said. “You can expect to see this throughout the season.”

During the first quarter, Damien Memorial School scored early with a 70-yard pass play. The extra point was good, making the score 7-0, Monarchs. There were no other points scored  in the first quarter.

The Warriors brought the heat going into the second quarter with a touchdown less than a minute in. In a third down situation on the Monarchs’ 10-yard line, Newton sent the ball to Erin Lindsey. It was a touchdown for the Warriors. Senior Kailoa Akoi scored the extra point, evening the score.

The Monarchs continued to work their way up the field with pass plays, and a little over five minutes into the period, Damien quarterback, Syles Choy, found Leeland Lauti in the end zone for a Damien touchdown. Kicker Nicolas Angoco’s extra point kick went wide, and they took the lead, 13-7.

The Warrior defense was tight, keeping the Monarchs from scoring for the rest of the quarter, but a last-minute fumble by Newton, with 11 seconds left in the half, put Damien into good scoring position on the 35-yard line.

The quarter would have ended at 13-7 after Choy failed to connect on a 30-yard pass attempt, but the Warriors were penalized for pass interference on that final play. The penalty prevented a Damien touchdown, but put the Monarchs into field goal range on the replay of the down, and the half ended with a Damien field goal, putting them in the lead 16-7.

The Warrior defense came on strong at the beginning of the second half, holding the Monarchs to their own territory for most of the third quarter. When Damien was finally able to inch their way to the Warriors’ 25-yard line, Angoco kicked another successful field goal, and the Monarchs opened up a 12-point lead over the Warriors.

The Monarchs had the final play of the third quarter after  Damien defensive back Joseph Medeiros picked off a pass meant for the Warriors’ Keoni Keanini in the previous play, one of two interceptions of the quarter, but they were unable to score.

Shortly into the fourth quarter, the Warriors’ Chase Alexander did the same and intercepted a pass on the Warrior two-yard line, running it back 21 yards and giving the Warriors possession of the ball.

Four turnovers and a third Angoco field goal later, the Monarchs appeared to seal the deal with another touchdown on a short pass to wide receiver Ian Lundberg. With 1:06 left in the game. The extra point was good, increasing their lead to 29-7.

But the Warriors were not done yet. With only a minute left in the game, Chase Alexander received the ball on kickoff and ran it to the Monarchs’ 38-yard line. Then, a pass to freshman Kyle Segundo, moved it another nine yards. Another pass to Chase Alexander gained another five yards.

Out of time outs, with 23 seconds on the clock and down by 22 points, Newton spiked the ball to stop the clock and regroup.

The next play was an incomplete pass to junior Bryant Kubo, but six seconds later, Newton saw his opportunity to scramble. He took off for the end zone and dove to score the touchdown. Akoi’s extra point was good, and the score was now 14-29, with the teams lining up for another kickoff.

The last 16 seconds were even more exciting. Akoi successfully executed an onsides kick, which baffled the Monarchs and was recovered by Lindsey on Damien’s 30-yard line.  Newton hit junior Keoni Keanini with a long pass to the half-foot line. Keanini briefly touched down in the end zone. He was lifted and pushed back inbounds, but he had done enough. The Warriors scored again and stopped the clock at 2.1 seconds.

“I feel really good about my first touchdown of the season,” said wide receiver Keanini. “The team really worked hard, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my coaches.”

Damien got nowhere on the next play and ended the game by taking a knee. The final score was 29-21 in favor of the Monarchs.

“You know, we’re happy that we came away with the win, but overall we have a lot of film and a lot of things to work on, you know, as a team. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to, but like I said, the victory is the most important part,” said Eddie Klaneski, head coach of the Monarchs.

Warriors’ lineman Jonah Logotala-Puli was injured during the game as was the Monarchs’ running back Samson Low. Trainers worked on the left leg of Logotala-Puli and left arm of Low. Their conditions were unknown at the end of the game. At least four other KS Maui players started the season with sidelining injuries, including concussions and ligament tears, and sat out this first clash from the start.

With new leadership, new coaches, new training regimens, and a new playbook, the new Maui Warriors appear ready to enter the regular season.

Catch the Kamehameha Warriors in their first Maui Interscholastic League game against King Kekaulike at Kana’iaupuni Stadium on Saturday, August 24. The junior varsity will play their first game at 4:30 p.m. and the varsity game will be at 7 p.m.

Tonight’s game was well attended, with the stands at least 75% full.

“Keep coming to support us,” Newton said. “We could use it.”