WAILUKU - Lahainaluna High School gave its newest rival in Maui Interscholastic League Division II football a clear message Saturday night: The D-II league title and state berth that goes with it travel through the red-and-white-clad players.
The Lunas dominated on both sides of the ball in a 29-0 win over King Kekaulike in front of about 2,000 fans at War Memorial Stadium that kicked off both teams' MIL seasons.
Lahainaluna's defense didn't give up King Kekaulike's second first down until just over seven minutes remained in the third quarter, and sacked Ryley Widell seven times for a loss of 49 yards - Na Alii generated just 82 yards in the game, 68 of those in the fourth quarter when the issue had been decided.
Lahainaluna High School’s Tytus Lucas is pursued by King Kekaulike’s Keegan Gregg during the first half of the Lunas’ 29-0 victory over Na Alii on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.
BEN JUAN photo
Semisi Filikitonga of Lahainaluna looks for running room.
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Lahainaluna’s Asi Fatongia tries to fend off King Kekaulike’s Keegan Gregg.
BEN JUAN photo
Na Alii’s Jay Braun heads upfield.
BEN JUAN photo
"The defense did a hell of a job," Lunas co-head coach Garret Tihada said. "Like I told you last week (King Kekaulike) is a very explosive team. Our kids played well and we got lucky tonight. They did a good job."
The Lunas had eight players run the ball for a combined 219 yards.
Tytus Lucas led the way with 11 carries for 81 yards and a 6-yard touchdown run that made the score 22-0 with 7:28 left in the third quarter. Quarterback Kiko Kohler-Fonohema ran 13 times for 23 yards for two touchdowns and was 2-for-6 passing for 45 yards, with both completions going to Asi Fatongia.
"The kids worked hard this past week and executed pretty well," Tihada said. "Offensively we got a little better. I think we had more understanding of the schemes and a little more running the plays. They are getting it down a little bit more."
Three of the Lunas' quarterback sacks were by sophomore Conner Mowat.
"I was definitely happy with the pressure," Tihada said. "You have got to get pressure on a passing quarterback. That is a must."
Clarence Rivers made his MIL debut as a head coach, and came away impressed with the Lunas.
"Clearly," he said. "They have been working at it, so you can see the difference. We were a little scrappy, but they are just a better ballclub. We started running the ball a little more there late and started chipping away at it, but we are still trying to find the right mix of 11.
"Ryley is progressing, he's learning. Also, our offensive line, we have got to do a little better job there - it is a work in progress."
The Lunas took a 15-0 lead at halftime as the majority of the first two quarters were played in Na Alii territory.
Kohler-Fonohema was returning to MIL play after he suffered a season-ending broken jaw last season.
"The line did a pretty good job holding off their defense and he didn't have to pass too much, so he had a pretty easy night," Tihada said.
Lahainaluna's first touchdown came after King Kekaulike had its one first-half first down and then lost 22 yards before being forced to punt.
The kick traveled just 17 yards and the Lunas took over at Na Alii's 26-yard line. Lahainaluna's Christian Whitehead then carried three straight times - runs of 22, 2 and 2 yards - to score just 3:30 into the game.
After two more possessions that began in King Kekaulike's territory but not yield any points, Lahainaluna took over at its own 24 late in the first quarter. The Lunas took nine plays to march 76 yards and took a 12-0 lead when Kohler-Fonohema dove in from the 1-yard line with 9:26 left in the half.
The big plays on the drive were a 29-yard pass from Kohler-Fonohema to Fatongia, and a rough-and-tumble 32-yard run by Lucas to the King Kekaulike 21. Lucas went 16 yards to the 5 on the next play.
On the kickoff that followed, Christian Cardenas-Ayala blooped the ball into a short corner and Scott-Isaac Medeiros-Tangatailoa recovered at Na Alii's 20. The Lunas got to the 3 on two runs by Semisi Filikitonga, but a shotgun snap sailed over the head of Kohler-Fonohema. Cardenas-Ayala kicked a 30-yard field goal with 7:36 to go before halftime.
In the first half, the Lunas had 143 yards of offense, while limiting King Kekaulike to minus-6. Six different Lunas carried the ball in the first half, led by Lucas with 55 yards on five carries.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
King Kekaulike ..... 0 ..... 0 ....... 0 ....... 0-0
Lahainaluna ......... 6 ..... 9 ..... 14 ..... 0-29
LL-Christian Whitehead 2 run (kick failed), 8:30.
LL-Kiko Kohler-Fonohema 1 run (pass failed), 9:26.
LL-Christian Cardenas-Ayala 30 FG, 7:36.
LL-Tytus Lucas 6 run (Cardenas-Ayala kick), 7:28.
LL-Kohler-Fonohema 8 run (Cardenas-Ayala kick), 2:38.
Junior varsity-Lahainaluna 24, King Kekaulike 7.
MAUI HIGH 10, KAMEHAMEHA MAUI 7
KS Maui ........ 0 ..... 0 ..... 7 ....... 0-7
Maui High ..... 3 ..... 0 ..... 0 ..... 7-10
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.
RUSHING-KSM, Kalai Yap 24-89, Stephen Barut 5-8, Pono Freitas 2-4, Cabanmas 2-1, Taylor Kaaukai 1-1, Devonte Llanes 1-1, Billy Ayakawa 1-(minus 5), team 1-(minus 5); MH, Justin McCrary 17-57, Kalvin Aboy 12-25, Ryan Sagon 4-10, Vainikolo 2-3, Melson Lucas 1-(minus 5), team 1-(minus 6).
PASSING-KSM, Yap 4-15-0-46; MH, Aboy 6-19-2-69.
RECEIVING-KSM, Chase Newton 2-42, Cabanas 2-4; MH, Kapisi 2-28, Raymon Ledesma 2-21, Sagon 2-3, Lucas 1-17.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-KSM, Cabanas 48 (SH), Cabanas 37 (WL); MH, Ledesma 49 (SH).
Maui High 10, Kamehameha Maui 7
Lahainaluna 29, King Kekaulike 0
Saint Louis 46, Baldwin 0 (nonleague)
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.