Lunas sweep past Warriors at homecoming game


Photo by Maile Sur

Quarterback Chase Newton carries the ball with Lāhainaʻs Justice Tihada in pursuit during last nightʻs homecoming game at Kanaʻiaupuni Stadium. The Lunaʻs won 49-7.

The Lāhainaluna Lunas swept past Kamehameha Maui 49-7 during the Warriors’ homecoming game last night at Kanaʻiaupuni Stadium. With an undefeated season so far, the Lunas were tough competitors.

“Like always, we just want to execute our blocking and tackling,” co-head Lāhaina Coach Garret Tihada said. “We donʻt know how theyʻre going to change their offense or defense, but we know that as long as we come out and we block and tackle we should have a decent evening.”

Most of those blocks and tackles on the Warrior side last night came from a core group of players: Keaghan Gomes, Brennon Aloy, Kupono Duarte, Ikaika Chong-Kee, and Colton Cabanas, but the entire team demonstrated the homecoming theme, e maikaʻi a paʻahana.

At the start of the game, Cabanas caught the ball on kickoff and ran back for 40-yards to the Lunaʻs 30-yard line. Cabanas was notable for his perseverance throughout the night, despite how the game unfolded. He made many tackles and broke through the defense on several of the Luna extra point kicks. He even made the point after kick on the sole Warrior touchdown of the evening.

“We just told the boys that [the Lunas] are a good team, but if we work hard, we can definitely win,” Cabanas said.

The Lunas took control of the game about halfway through the first quarter. It started when Chong Kee fumbled on a first down attempt, and the Lunas recovered the ball.

With the Lunas on offense, they pushed through the Warrior defense, and with a pass from quarterback Makoa Sione Filikitonga-Lukela to Ansen Cabanilla, the Lunas scored the first touchdown of the night. The score was 0-7.

The Warriors tried to push the ball down the field on their next possession, but with two incomplete passes, they were forced to punt. Lāhainalunaʻs Josten Saribay received the ball and ran it to the Warriors 32-yard line.

Lāhainaluna ran the ball over a series of three first downs and scored a touchdown by Makoa Sione Filikitonga-Lukela, increasing their lead to 0-14.

The Warriors were back on offense with a few minutes left in the first quarter. Attempting to run the ball down the field, the Warriors were stopped and were forced to kick. Senior Kamahaʻo Romero punted the ball to the Lunaʻs 30-yard line.

A few minutes into the second quarter, Jared Rocha-Islas scored another touchdown for the Lunas. The score was now 0-21.

Trying to get some yardage, the Warriors worked pass plays; however, on the third down, Newton was sacked, causing Romero to punt.

The Lunas worked a few runs, but were shut down by Cabanas and Chong-Kee. On their 4th down, they punted to Joshua Hiwatashi who received the ball, but fumbled, giving the Lunaʻs the first down on the Warriors 2-yard line. With a short pass, the Lunas scored again for a lead of 0-28.

The two teams traded the next two possessions, gaining little yardage and including a failed 29-yd field goal attempt by Warrior Zachery ‘Kamahaʻo’ Romero.

With only a few minutes left in the half, the Warriors defended hard and shut the Lunas down. After 4 downs, the Warriors reclaimed possession of the ball for the last time in the half.

They moved it forward 40 yards, and with 16 seconds left on the clock, Newton made a 22-yard pass to Keoni Keanini in the end-zone. With Cabanas’ point after kick,  the score was now 7-28, Lunas leading.

During halftime, the Warrior fans shouted and cheered at the homecoming festivities, which included a parade of classes from elementary to high school, floats, banners, and the announcement of the winners of the homecoming events. Ignoring the scoreboard, the Warrior crowd was pumped, just happy to be with sharing the evening with the Kamehameha ʻohana of past and present.

To start the second half, the Lunas worked on running the ball up the field and gaining 45-yards. When they were stopped by Cabanas, Filikitonga-Lukela completed a pass into the end-zone, and the Lunas scored again.

Helped by another Warrior fumble, the Lunas added another touchdown to the score, pushing it to the final of 7-49.

But, the Warriors gave their fans one more rush with 3:08 left on the clock when Newton tried a long pass to Keanini, who was in the corner, around the 4-yard line. He got his hands around the ball, but fumbled, and the defending Luna picked it up; however, Keanini still had a lot of fight left in him. He tripped the Luna into also fumbling. Another Lāhaina player came by and scooped the ball up. By then, Keanini was half back up on his feet. He lunged at the ball carrier, got a few handfuls of jersey, and pulled the player down, finally ending the play but injuring himself in the process.

“I pretty much got a face mask right into my kidney,” Keanini said. “It doesnʻt feel too good.”

The play, which could have meant a double digit finish for the Warriors was controversial, with some feeling that the defending Lunas should have been charged with pass interference, but referees did not make that call, and the Lunas remained in possession for the rest of the game.

The game ended with the clock running and the Lunas taking 2 knees to run the time out.