Lahainaluna stays perfect
WAILUKU – The Lahainaluna High School football team has earned a break.
The Lunas rolled to a 37-7 win over Maui High in front of about 3,000 fans at War Memorial Stadium on Friday night, the sixth straight week they have played this season – all of them victories. They get their first bye of the season next week.
“Anytime you get to this point of the season, you need a break,” Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada said. “Obviously everybody in the league is going to be banged up, so we are going to really, really need this bye, just to heal up. Now, it’s back to basics, we still need to clean some stuff up.”
The No. 1 Division II team in the scoringlive.com power rankings is 4-0 midway through the Maui Interscholastic League season after three runners had more than 100 yards Friday.
Jared Rocha-Islas carried nine times for 170 yards and three touchdowns, Makoa Filikitonga had 115 yards and a score on eight carries and Christian Whitehead had 112 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Lahainaluna piled up 409 yards on the ground and has 882 rushing yards in its last two games.
“We are still coughing the ball up a little bit, a couple fumbles here and there – we need to clean that up,” Tihada said. “But as a whole, we are doing a decent job running the ball.”
The Lunas have nine shut-outs in their last 16 games, and four other times in that span have permitted just one score. They have outscored the Sabers 109-7 in the teams’ last three meetings.
Maui High fell to 2-2, and its loss clinched the first-round Division I MIL title for Baldwin, which reaches the midpoint of the league season tonight against King Kekaulike.
Lahainaluna built a 23-0 lead at halftime by rushing for 249 yards. Its three scoring drives totaled just 10 plays.
After going 76 yards on six plays on their fourth touchdown – a 35-yard run by Rocha-Islas – the Lunas’ final scoring drive of four plays and 53 yards was capped by Rocha-Islas’ 32-yard jaunt.
Filikitonga finished 2-for-6 passing for 25 yards.
“We are working on it every day in practice,” Tihada said. “Tonight (Filikitonga) made the right decisions passing the ball and that is all we are looking for. Just because you call a pass play doesn’t mean you have to throw the ball.”
The Lunas took the lead for good less than two minutes into the game – a punt snap sailed over the head of the Sabers’ Jared Kapisi, who ran down the ball in the end zone and kicked it past the end line.
After stopping Maui High on downs, Lahainaluna needed four plays to go 42 yards, scoring on a 30-yard run by Rocha-Islas with 4:00 left in the first quarter.
The Lunas forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and then used two plays to go 70 yards, scoring on a 53-yard run straight up the middle by Filikitonga with 1:14 left in the quarter.
Lahainaluna extended the lead on its first drive of the second quarter. This time it took four plays, the last of them Whitehead’s 30-yard touchdown run. On the previous play, Rocha-Islas ran for 50 yards.
The Lunas allowed just 21 yards of offense in the first half, and finished the game with a 434-120 advantage.
Maui High produced its score on a 14-play, 39-yard drive, with Onosai Emelio converting twice on fourth-and-2 and scoring on a 1-yard dive with 3:42 left in the third quarter to make it 30-7.
“They are going to be a good team in the second round,” Tihada said.
Maui High coach David Bui was impressed with the Lunas.
“You know what? They are tough, they execute so well,” Bui said. “We felt like we prepared well this week and then it is a combination of their execution and us just not being mentally focused. Then the game just got away from us.”
Maui High will face Baldwin on Sept. 29.
“We are still a work in progress, we are starting to get our guys back and our team is a little bit healthier,” Bui said. “Some of our guys are still just trying to get in to the groove and we are still trying to put guys where they are going to help us most. We are getting ready for the second round.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Maui High ……….. 0 ….. 0 ……. 7 ……. 0-7
Lahainaluna ….. 16 ….. 7 ….. 14 ….. 0-37
LL-safety, punt snap kicked out of end zone, 10:04.
LL-Jared Rocha-Islas 30 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 4:00.
LL-Makoa Filikitonga 53 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 1:14.
LL-Christian Whitehead 30 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 10:05.
LL-Rocha-Islas 35 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 10:00.
MH-Onosai Emelio 1 run (Jared Kaipsi kick), 3:42.
LL-Rocha-Islas 32 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 2:20.
* * *
Junior varsity-Maui High 7, Lahainaluna 6.