Lahainaluna football reclaims Division II title

The+Kamehameha+Maui+Warriors+faced+the+Lahainaluna+Lunas+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+31%2C+in+the+Maui+Interscholastic+League+Division+II+playoff+game.+During+the+regular+season%2C+each+team+won+once%2C+forcing+the+playoff.+The+Lunas+won%2C+14-10%2C+and+are+moving+on+to+the+state+tournament+next+weekend.

Photo by Kainoa Deguilmo

The Kamehameha Maui Warriors faced the Lahainaluna Lunas on Saturday, Oct. 31, in the Maui Interscholastic League Division II playoff game. During the regular season, each team won once, forcing the playoff. The Lunas won, 14-10, and are moving on to the state tournament next weekend.

Ka Leo o Nā Koa

WAILUKU–Lahainaluna beat the Kamehameha Maui Warriors 14-10 to reclaim the MIL Division II title on Oct. 31 at War Memorial Stadium.

Lahaina’s two scores came from an interception returned for a touchdown by Donovan Defang and a goal line run by David Kawabata.

Kamehameha scores came from a 13-yard touchdown pass caught by senior Maikaike English and a 30-yard field goal by Kealaula Keliikoa.

“I’m proud of the boys tonight,” said Coach Cody Nakamura, the Warriors head coach. “I saw a lot of good things tonight.”

The Warriors lost many players last year, such as Chase Newton, Keoni Keanini, Josh Hiwatashi, Aaron Kokobun, Colton Cabanas, Brennan Aloy and Keoni Keanini, but they have shown improvement, 3-5 over last year’s record of 2-6.

“We had a lot of guys step up this year, and that’s how it goes, it’s a rotation,” Coach Nakamura said. “I’m expecting the guys next year to do the same thing.”

Despite the loss, Coach Nakamura said he saw positive flashes for next year.

“[Kainoa Sanchez] played a great game, we’re gonna have the offensive line back next year,” he said. “The defense is looking great, and the secondary is coming along well.”

Coach Nakamura said that the Lunas always bring their A-game.

“They’re definitely a great team to match up with,” he said. “Whenever you play them you know they’re gonna play good football, year in year out.”

Lahainaluna will be moving on to the First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships, Nov. 7. They may have the advantage with the game being played on their home field, but in the meantime, they will be practicing hard to face Kaimuki at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Lahainaluna’s head coach Garret Tihada said his team will have to be a lot better for the first round of the state tournament because it “is [a] whole different ball game.”

Last night’s game ended on a controversial change of ruling by the referees with seconds left on the clock. The confusion caused Warriors’ Coach Nakamura to take the last timeout of the game when it was disadvantageous to Kamehameha.

“Tonight’s win wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take the win,” said Luna’s Coach Tihada.

Lahainaluna also entered the season missing many starters from the 2014 season, in which they also won the MIL Division II title, so last night’s contest was up for grabs on both sides.

“This year is a totally different team,” Coach Tihada said. “Last year we were the favorites headed into states. This year I wouldn’t be surprised if we were seeded sixth in the tournament.”

Coach Tihada also said that the Warrior’s played well last night with an equally new team.

“Kamehameha lost a lot of players last [season], especially that quarterback [Chase Newton], and the way they played this year was very impressive,” he said.

In addition to the new make-up of the 2015 Warriors, some players were out for academic reasons and others were out for injury, such as Pono Duarte who was injured in last weekend’s game against Maui High.

“They were missing some guys,” Coach Tihada said. “If they had [Duarte] for example, the outcome tonight would have been different. If they would’ve won tonight, I would’ve been their biggest fans.”