Lunas Roll past Kamehameha Hawaiʻi in D2 semifinal

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Photo by Kainoa Deguilmo

The Kamehameha Kea'au Warriors line up against the Lāhainaluna Lunas on Saturday, Nov. 16, at War Memorial Stadium in Kahului, Maui. The Lunas were in control of the HHSAA Division 2 semifinal game from the beginning, putting up seven touchdowns and a field goal to KSHʻs one touchdown and winning a slot, 52-7, at next weekʻs championships on O'ahu.

By Kainoa Deguilmo, sports writer

KAHULUI–Kamehameha Hawaiʻi fell to favored Lahainaluna 52-7 last night in the HHSAA state division 2 football semifinals at War Memorial Stadium.

“Tonight Lahainaluna was extremely experienced and was very disciplined. This was a learning experience for us,” said Dan Lyons, head coach for Kamehameha Hawaiʻi.

From the very first snap, the Lunas brought their A-game as they dominated on offense, defense and special teams.

“I think all the hard work we’ve really been putting in these last couple weeks has really paid off,” said Garret Tihada, Lāhainaluna’s head coach. “Tonight was a direct result of hard work and a team effort.”

The Lunas started their roll with a rushing touchdown by Jared Rocha-Islas. Kamehameha got the ball back, but a bad snap was followed by an interception by Rocha-Islas, who also plays defense. The Lunas capitalized on the possession by kicking a field goal.

Kamehameha’s Preston Kalai made an impressive return to the Warriors’ 48, but the Warriors were forced to punt with a little over a minute left in the first quarter.

Then, with a quarterback sneak, Makoa Filikitonga bumped up the score to 17-0 Lunas.

Filikitonga had a great game, throwing and passing for touchdowns.

“I think a large part of tonight’s win was thanks to my offensive line. They really played tonight and opened up lot of opportunities,” he said.

Rocha-Islas rushed for another touchdown five seconds into the second quarter to make the score 24-0, Lāhaina.

On a strong drive, the Warriors got down to Lāhaina’s 12-yard line. A touchdown pass from quarterback Micah Kanehailua to Grant Shiroma put points up on the Warrior side of the board to make the score 24-7.

“It could’ve been a huge momentum swing if we built off of that,” said Dan Lyons, head coach for Kamehameha Keaʻau. “We just needed to execute and carry out all plays like that.”

The Lunas seemed to be in a hole on their next possession. Back-to-back holding penalties put them 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage. But Rocha-Islas rushed for 27 yards to keep the drive alive.

Following that, Filikitonga threw a touchdown pass to Josten Saribay to make the score 31-7.

The Warriors could never turn it around from halfway into the second quarter when Kanehailua was sacked for a loss. With that sack, the Lunas took over on the Warriors’ 24-yard line. The Lunas would eventually put more points on the board, including an interception returned for a touchdown by Filikitonga, making the score at halftime 45-7.

Filikitonga, who also plays free safety, described his pick-six play.

“My coaches told me that he [Kanehailua] likes to throw to that side and watch for that pass, and I saw it and went to get it,” he said.

At the start of the second half, the Warriors had many calls against them, finally resulting in kickoff from the goal line.

Filikitonga scored one more time, putting the score at 52-7 to start off the third quarter.

The Warriors regrouped and seemed to be on a roll with a nice pass to Bayley Malinguis, but the drive was killed by an interception by Scott Medeiros-Tangatailoa in the end zone.

“Tonight the Warriors did a decent job passing, but you could tell they were getting tired,” Coach Tihada said.

“From here on, we just have to take this as a learning experience and prepare for next season,” Kamehameha Coach Lyons said. “I think our offensive line did a great job tonight, they really played hard. Another improvement I saw was the growth of the brotherhood of this team. They’ve really bonded stronger and throughout this whole game they continued to fight.”

KSH running back Chase Peneku was winding down and shaking it off in the parking lot long after the game was over as waited to board the final athletics bus.

“We had a heck of a season, and I’m happy with it,” he said. He also thanked the Kamehameha Maui campus for their hospitality while they were visiting and practicing at their sister campus earlier in the week.

With this win, the Lunas will advance to the Hawaiʻi High School Athletic Association’s First Hawaiian Bank Division II State Football Championships this Friday, Nov. 21, at Aloha Stadium.

“It feels really good to return [to the state tournament] again with my teammates,” Filikitonga said.

The Lunas, have always had a smooth run game. Last night, they also had an impressive passing game going.

“Once again, much credit to my offensive line,” Filikitonga said. “They did everything well whether it was regular blocking or pursuit.”

All of those skills will be put to the test this Friday, when the Lunas go up against the Iolani Raiders with the division 2 championship on the line.