Sabers roll in opener
WAILUKU – The most lopsided victory for the Maui High School football team since the Curtis Lee era showed that the Sabers may be in position to have a winning season for the first time since 2003.
St. Francis, playing the first varsity game in the school’s 89-year history, learned just what it is likely to face in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
On a night of dastardly weather at War Memorial Stadium, the Sabers won 51-0 – the most lopsided victory for an MIL team in nearly three years.
“We are focused on us, we are just trying to get better and better every week,” said David Bui, the fourth coach at Maui High since Lee retired in 2004. “We know what our goals are. We are just trying to add some depth, we have (12) guys out. When we get those guys back, we can be a whole team and we can be competitive.”
Maui High gained 293 yards in the first two quarters while allowing minus-28, and led 39-0 at half-time – meaning the entire second half had a running clock.
The Sabers compiled all of their yardage on the ground, and posted the biggest margin of victory for an MIL team since Baldwin beat Maui High 52-0 on Sept. 24, 2010.
The numbers brought back memories of Lee, who left with 105 victories in 21 seasons.
Maui High scored four times on safeties Friday, helping the defense, which ranked second in the MIL last season, nearly outscore the offense. The Sabers had three interception returns for touchdowns, two of them by junior cornerback Lucas Ibanez.
“I have never done anything like that, this is my first time (scoring a touchdown),” said Ibanez, who added the final safety with one of the nine sacks Maui High racked up. “It felt great. I would say there is a bond for us this year. Our team just took over.”
Maui High tried just one pass, and Tyson Takabayashi completed it for an apparent first down to Nathan Apolo, but the play was wiped out by one of the five penalties committed by the Sabers.
Rain all game long pelted the players and the estimated 100 fans who braved the conditions.
The first play from scrimmage was an intercepted pass returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Aaron Pierman, putting St. Francis behind just four seconds into its varsity history.
The Sabers turned on the 35-point mercy-rule clock on the final play of the first half when they appeared to be trying to run out the clock, but Mario Fernandez found a crease at the line and then outran the Saints’ defense 86 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
Fernandez gained 124 yards on nine carries.
“They have a good game plan, they have got good coaches who are very disciplined,” said St. Francis coach Mike Ulufale, a former University of Hawaii standout. “I’m happy for Maui High, they came out ready to play, they wanted to represent Maui and they did a good job.”
The stadium’s 2-year-old scoreboard was knocked out by Tropical Depression Flossie last month, and the replacement board was just 6 square feet – barely readable and providing only the score and the time left in each quarter, although it stalled at the 6:10 mark until less than two minutes were left in the first quarter.
Among the players missing for Maui High was defense end and offensive lineman Leka Vainikolo, a key junior who injured a knee in practice last week. The results of an MRI test are due on Monday.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
MH-Aaron Pierman 27 interception return (run failed), 11:56.
MH-safety, Blaze Umiamaka sacked in end zone by Arven Lacaden, 8:27.
MH-Mario Fernandez 5 run (Jared Kapisi kick), 5:30.
MH-safety, snap through end zone, 2:22.
MH-safety, snap through end zone, 9:40.
MH-Justin Carvalho 2 run (Kapisi kick), 4:27.
MH-Justin Ibanez 32 interception return (kick failed), 4:00.
MH-Fernandez 86 run (Kapisi kick), 0:00.
MH-Ibanez 47 interception return (Kapisi kick), 10:33.
MH-safety, Ibanez tackles Umiamaka in end zone, 7:12.
MH-Kapisi 33-yard FG, 10:39.