First look at football shows challenge, promise

Maui Warriors score twice in preseason loss


Photo by Kimani Fernandez-Roy

Running back Damon Martin plows his way through a group of Pac-5 players at a preseason scrimmage Friday, August 12, at Kana’iaupuni Stadium. The Warriors scored twice, but lost 26-13 to the Wolfpack.

The Kamehameha Schools Maui football program showed a glimpse of what they had to offer in a loss last night to  O’ahu’s Pac-Five. Showing their resiliency, they kept fans on their toes, while holding the Wolfpack to 26 points as well as scoring 13 of their own.

PAC-5’s Tyler Fukuroda started the scoring with a field goal in the first quarter, and the Wolfpack scored twice more in the second, with a touchdown followed by a field goal just before halftime. They scored twice more in the third quarter, once on a pass to Travis Kaloa, and once on a short pass to Jett Uechi in the end zone.

Starting halfway through the third quarter, the Warriors shut the Wolfpack down and kept them from scoring again, while scoring twice themselves.

With a new head coach, Ulima Afoa, in charge, the Warriors are excited about the upcoming season.

Tyerell Baldonado-Kaleiopu, junior wide receiver and defensive back, said, “This game has built my confidence so much, and now I feel like I’m ready for the whole season.”

The Maui Warriors hope to use this game as a confidence booster to fuel them for upcoming challenges.

Coach Afoa has already made some changes like having the athletes “hitting the weight room more often,” and he said the team will continue to evolve in hopes of future success. For now, he said he is extremely proud of the way the players performed last night.

The athletes dealt with some challenges in their first outing, including strong winds, a 36-person roster that had many playing both offense and defense, and a number of players who fought through cramps.

One change to the football program this year is the separation of the varsity and junior varsity teams. The four grade levels had been combined into one varsity team for the past two years under previous coach Cody Nakamura, partially due to low turnout.

During the game, muscle cramps temporarily sidelined impact players such as Kiha Mossman, and in the third quarter, sophomore Tristan Catan, who sprinted for nearly 70 yards to tackle PAC-5’s Travis Kaloa just before the end zone. Kaloa stretched the ball into the end zone and made the score as he went down on Catan’s tackle just feet shy of the goal line, but Catan suffered from leg cramps so severe that he was helped off the field. He was able to return to the game a short time later.

To address the cramps, the boys were encouraged to hydrate constantly and to ingest mustard, an alternative remedy for muscle dehydration.

According to Deborah Mitchell on the website EMaxHealth, “Football players and other athletes are sometimes told by their coaches to swallow a few spoons of mustard to fight off leg cramps. One reason mustard may be effective for this purpose is because the condiment contains acetic acid (in vinegar), which prompts the body to produce more acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that prompts muscles to work.”

Junior running and defensive back Damon Martin said he also thought a proper warm-up is key to avoid cramping up.

However, all the changes and challenges did not stop the Warriors from coming out of halftime and scoring their two touchdowns – one off a pass from Kainoa Sanchez to Kealaula Keli’ikoa, which showed their passing game, and the other from a run into the end zone by Martin, who showed their running game. Keli’ikoa kicked for his own extra point, but the extra points conversion attempt after Martin’s run was fouled when PAC-5 knocked the short pass out of the air.

Kealaula Keli’ikoa (#10) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter as his opponents topple around him.

The team showed their potential for the coming season.

Coach Afoa said that nearly the entire team came to every summer workout passionate and motivated for improvement, and in this first match-up, quarterback Kainoa Sanchez gave a solid effort, connecting on many short passes and calling a variety of plays, while players such as Martin, Baldonado-Kaleiopu, Keli’ikoa, Catan, and senior Nevan Watanabe were showing promise to change the game this year.

Martin said, “It is a good learning experience, and we’re ready to go again,” which is good, since the Warriors’ first regular season outing is this Thursday, August 18. Kamehameha Maui will play King Kekaulike at King Kekaulike at 7 p.m.