Baldwin earns state berth
WAILUKU – After having its string of Maui Interscholastic League overall championships won or shared end last week at eight, the Baldwin High School football team gave its fans a title to celebrate on their 75th homecoming Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.
Baldwin wrapped up the MIL Division I title with a methodical 46-7 win over King Kekaulike to qualify for the state tournament for the 11th time in 12 seasons.
The Bears lost 48-3 to Lahainaluna last week, but finished the second round of MIL play 3-1.
Baldwin was 6-2 in the league season and will carry a 6-4 overall mark into the state tournament, most likely hosting a quarterfinal game at War Memorial Stadium in two weeks against Kahuku, Campbell, Mililani or Leilehua.
“It was a nice game, our boys came out, they wanted to play,” Bears coach Keneke Pacheco said. “They had a goal they wanted to reach and they obtained their goal, so that’s something we talked about at the beginning of the season.”
The Bears ran for 363 yards, with Dusty Flores gaining 152 on 18 carries and Micah Pagaduan adding 122 on 10 carries, with two touchdowns. Flores entered last weekend with the MIL rushing lead, but was held to 11 yards on six carries by the overall league-champion Lunas.
“Oh, I was waiting to get some yards,” Flores said after reclaiming the top spot on the list with 794 yards – 120 more than Jared Rocha-Islas of Lahainaluna, which will face Maui High tonight in the final game of the MIL season. “I love my (offensive) line, all of our running backs love our line. Once we are on a roll, we keep going.”
Flores said his team will be prepared for the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s second- or third-place team.
“It feels great, we just have to keep working hard,” he said. “More work and we will be ready for state.”
Na Alii, who dressed just 25 players Friday, went 1-3 in the second round and finished 1-7 in MIL play for the third consecutive season.
“Our kids are tough, they work hard, they still believe,” said first-year King Kekaulike coach Kyle Sanches. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we have kids who are willing to put in the time. We have a great bunch of kids. We were up and down a little bit, but certainly we made some progress.”
The Bears led 25-7 at halftime, with a 212-32 advantage in total yardage. Baldwin finished with 388 yards while allowing 114.
The Bears scored on their first possession after forcing a three-and-out series by Na Alii. Flores ran five times to open the drive, for 28 yards, and then Pagaduan broke free through the middle and went 33 yards untouched for a touchdown.
Later in the first quarter, Baldwin’s Kawela Kaeo-Mata scored on an 85-yard punt return – he ran to the right sideline and broke free behind a key early block from Nohea Keahi, and got a final block from Kalaiku Pokini.
Kaeo-Mata caught a 3-yard scoring pass from Taje Akaka-Foster to culminate a 53-yard, nine-play drive that made the score 19-0 with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first half.
Charles Apuna made what could be the play of the year for Na Alii on the ensuing kickoff, going sideline to sideline and breaking five tackles on a 91-yard touchdown return.
After an onside kick traveled only nine yards, Pagaduan went up the middle again on a 49-yard run on the next play, capping a 39-second span during which the teams combined for three touchdowns.
Pagaduan had 115 yards on nine carries in the first half.
The first score of the second half came on a 1-yard plunge by Baldwin’s Jeremiah Badillo with 13 seconds left in the third quarter to finish a 12-play, 87-yard march that took 6:17 off the clock. Flores had a 52-yard run during the drive.
John Maanaima, listed as a 5-foot-10, 250-pound lineman and wearing No. 66, scored from 12 yards out with 7:26 to play – he carried all four times on a 39-yard drive.
Keenan Luis’ 25-yard run with 4:55 left completed the scoring – he carried all three times on a 39-yard drive.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
King Kekaulike ….. 0 ……. 7 ….. 0 …….. 0- 7
Baldwin ………….. 13 ….. 12 ….. 7 ….. 14-46
B-Micah Pagaduan 33 run (kick failed), 7:51.
B-Kawela Kaeo-Mata 85 punt return (Ricky Casco kick), 2:33.
B-Kawela Kaeo-Mata 3 pass from Taje Akaka-Foster (pass failed), 3:32.
KK-Charles Apuna 91 kickoff return (Micah McDonald kick), 3:06.
B-Pagaduan 49 run (kick failed), 2:53.
B-Jeremiah Badillo 1 run (Akaka-Foster kick), 0:13.
B-John Maanaima 12 run (Akaka-Foster kick), 7:26.
B-Keenan Luis 25 run (Akaka-Foster kick), 4:55.
* * *
Junior varsity-Baldwin 27, King Kekaulike 21.