By any definition, the Baldwin High School football team dominated the Maui Interscholastic League in 2011.
The Bears ran their league winning streak to 16, their record against Maui opponents to 58-2-1 dating to the 2004 season, recorded four shutouts in eight MIL games, allowed more than one score by a league opponent only once, outscored their foes 298-41 and basically doubled all of them in total offensive yardage.
The last defining moment of dominance for the 2011 Bears is the MIL All-Star team - 10 of 24 first-team slots are from Baldwin as well as Players of the Year Keelan Ewaliko and Pasoni Tasini.
Baldwin High School quarterback Keelan Ewaliko
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER?photo
Defensive lineman Pasoni Tasini helped the Bears go undefeated in the Maui Interscholastic League and win their first state tournament game since 2007.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER?photo
Ewaliko, a junior quarterback, won the passing title by 20 yards and the rushing title by 10 yards after both second-place finishers missed at least two games with injuries. He is believed to be the first player to win both crowns in the same season and is the unanimous choice of the league's five head coaches to repeat as MIL Offensive Player of the Year.
"It doesn't really hit me that hard," Ewaliko said. "I was striving to do it again. I just work hard and when you work hard great things come to you."
The rest of the first-team offense consists of Baldwin running back Kina Malafu, wide receiver Kaiana Camvel, and linemen Tasini, Jameson Kahalekai-Bermoy and Sione Tulimahe; Lahainaluna running back Jared Rocha and linemen Feleti Taufa and Osaiasi Tautuiaki; Kamehameha Maui receiver Daylan Machado; King Kekaulike receiver Michael Teves; and Maui High's Keone Kapisi as the utility player.
It will not just be statistics that define Ewaliko - and the Bears, offensively, for that matter - in 2011. It will also be Ewaliko's thrilling 33-yard scramble for a touchdown with 42 seconds left that lifted Baldwin past second-ranked Farrington 28-24 in a state quarterfinal game at War Memorial Stadium.
Ewaliko broke three tackles and ran over a defender near the goal line on that run.
"This year, beating Farrington, that really stuck out, that really showed that Maui can compete with the guys on Oahu, that we are not just pushovers," Ewaliko said. "It was just back-and-forth, they were up, then we were up. We just had to dig deep, had to pull through, believe in each other, play for each other, as a team."
It was the Bears' first win in the state tournament since 2007 and it put them in the semifinals for the sixth time in the 12-year history of the event.
A week later, Baldwin fell 35-0 to Punahou in the semifinals at Aloha Stadium. There have been 10 Neighbor Island appearances in the Division I state semifinals, but no non-Oahu team has ever made the D-I state final.
Ewaliko has more than 2,000 yards through the air and 30 touchdown passes in the last two MIL seasons, to go along with nearly 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
On defense, the Bears lose three first-teamers - Tasini, MIL sacks leader Vili Tolutau and linebacker B.J. Wilhelm-Ioane - to graduation. Miki Fangatua, a first-team D-line selection, will return. The other first-team All-Stars are Taufa on the line; Maui High's Tau Lotulelei, King Kekaulike's Maave Emelio and Kamehameha Maui's Alika Sanchez at linebacker; Kepa Luat-Hueu of King Kekaulike, Jordan Nauka of Kamehameha Maui and Tytus Lucas of Lahainaluna as defensive backs; and Maui High's Siueli Vaha as the utility player.
Tasini, who has scholarship offers from Utah, UNLV and Hawaii, said he is now considering playing his freshman season before taking his two-year church mission. Until recently, he was set on taking his mission before playing any college football. He will be taking official visits to each school in the next few weeks.
He was one of four players to receive defensive POY votes from the five ballots.
"That is pretty exciting, I didn't know until you told me now," Tasini said of his award. "I have been working for it, I got it, but I think I could have done better this season, like last season. I am excited that I got it and thank you guys."
The Baldwin defense was simply too overpowering for any MIL opponent to keep pace with the Bears' offense.
"Our defense gave me a lot of confidence," Ewaliko said. "You can just do more knowing that they were always going to be there to hold them down."
Tasini said it was an honor to play on such a forceful unit.
"Playing on this defense was really fun, it was exciting, we had a lot of key guys coming back, like B.J. and Miki and Vili," Tasini said. "We had a couple guys step up and it was just great. My teammates made me better. Working with them, I knew they could hold down their part of the defense. We all worked together and we just enjoyed playing together."
Ewaliko has earned two championship belt buckles for bull riding, including one from the open division of last summer's Makawao Rodeo, one of the largest rodeos in the state.
"That really boosts my confidence, because I'm pretty sure no D lineman can match up with a bull," he said.
Baldwin coach A.J. Roloos is the coach of the year, an honor he said is a staff award. Former Maui High dual-threat quarterback Alika Fuentes, who later starred at Oregon Tech, is the player he compared Ewaliko to and Roloos added that this Baldwin defensive unit could go down as one of the best ever at the school.
"We are blessed to have great athletes at Baldwin," Roloos said.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org