WAILUKU - The Maui High School football team had a major reason to play hard in the Maui Interscholastic League opener on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium in front of about 3,000 fans.
The Sabers' defense was stellar the entire game and the offense put together the drive it needed in the final moments, pulling out a 10-7 win over Kamehameha Maui when Moana Vainikolo dove in from the 1-yard line with 18 seconds left.
Vainikolo's touchdown capped an 81-yard drive that took 13 plays and started with 3:34 remaining.
Maui High School’s Kalvin Aboy releases a pass while under pressure from Kamehameha Maui’s Siaosi Ngalu during the first quarter of the Sabers’ 10-7 win over the Warriors on Friday at War Memorial Stadium in the first game of the Maui Interscholastic League season.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Until that point, Maui High had just 72 yards of offense.
A 15-year-old who played junior varsity football last season for the Sabers died Thursday, Sabers coach David Bui said.
"You know, the boys have struggled with a lot of adversity this week, but they came through to play as a team tonight," Bui said. "Our defense played really strong all night and the offense got it done when we needed it."
In a game marred by 24 penalties, 14 of them on Maui High for 120 yards, this one appeared to be in Kamehameha's grasp until the very end.
The Sabers took over at their own 19-yard line after offsetting 15-yard penalties on a 29-yard punt by the Warriors' Acer Pahukoa.
Maui High's Kalvin Aboy was 4-for-15 passing for 14 yards with two interceptions until the last drive, when he was 3-for-4 for 55 yards.
Still, things looked dire for the Sabers when they faced fourth-and-12 at the Warriors' 25 with less than a minute to play. Aboy was under heavy pressure before he lofted a pass that was caught between three defenders at the 7 by 5-foot-4 Kasey Yalon. Justin McCrary then ran for a yard and Aboy scrambled out of bounds at the 1 with 22 seconds left. Vainikolo scored on the next play.
Kamehameha coach Kevin O'Brien sent his team's and school's condolences to the Maui High community.
"All of us in the Kamehameha Schools Maui community, we just want the family of the young man who passed away and others in the Maui High family to know that we are thinking of them - we send all of our thoughts and prayers to them," O'Brien said.
The Warriors took the opening kickoff of the second half 69 yards in 12 plays and took a 7-3 lead on a 1-yard plunge by Colton Cabanas with 6:54 left in the third quarter.
Kamehameha quarterback Kalai Yap was 3-for-3 on the drive for 46 yards, two of the passes going for a total of 42 yards to Chase Newton. The second Newton catch put the ball on the Maui High 1.
The first half ended with Maui High leading 3-0 on the strength of a 25-yard field goal by Kapisi with 2:52 left in the first quarter.
Each team missed long field-goal attempts in the first half, including a 49-yarder by Kapisi that hit the crossbar with 6:34 left. Earlier, Cabanas was short on a 48-yard try.
Penalties wiped out big plays for both teams.
Maui High had a 66-yard punt return by Kimo Tashiro-Rivera late in the third quarter undone by a block in the back.
One of the Warriors' penalties cost them the ball when Bryant Kubo intercepted a pass and returned it 15 yards to midfield, but roughing the passer was called.
The Warriors' offense in the first half was entirely the running of Yap, who had 10 carries for 64 yards. The Warriors' seven other runs went for a total of minus-7 yards. Yap did not complete a pass in four attempts in the first half, but finished the night with 89 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Maui High had a total of 57 yards in the first half, all but two on the ground.
Kamehameha finished with 140 yards of offense, while Maui High had 153.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
|KS Maui||0||0||7||0— 7|
MH-Jared Kapisi 25 FG, 2:52.
KSM-Colton Cabanas 1 run (Cabanas kick), 6:54.
MH-Moana Vainikolo 1 run (Kapisi kick), 0:18.
Junior varsity-Maui High 20, Kamehameha Maui 0.
Maui High 10, Kamehameha Maui 7
Saint Louis vs. Baldwin at Aloha Stadium (nonleague), 5 p.m.
Lahainaluna vs. King Kekaulike at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 31
Lahainaluna vs. Kamehameha Maui at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 1
Baldwin vs. Maui High at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.