Sabers take major step
WAILUKU – The last time the Maui High School football team finished a season with a break-even record, Daniel Kelley, Elijah Tasini and Chazzaniel Sau were all in kindergarten.
That trio of sophomores accounted for all seven touchdowns for the Sabers on Friday night as they cruised to a 49-20 win over King Kekaulike at War Memorial Stadium.
The Sabers are 1-1 in the second round of the Maui Interscholastic League Division I schedule, 3-3 in the MIL season and 5-3 overall with two games to play. Maui High has not finished with a winning record since going 7-3 in 2003, all in league play.
Tasini finished with 242 rushing yards – a season high in the MIL – and two scores on 17 carries, Kelley had four touchdowns while rushing 12 times for 58 yards, Sau ran for a nifty score in the first half and another sophomore, Austin Hoe, was 3-for-11 passing for 45 yards and ran the offense well all night.
“I just want to thank my offensive coaches and head coach for starting me as a sophomore and believing in me that I can run the ball,” Tasini said. “Thanks to my offensive line, I love them very much, they are like my brothers.”
Maui High ran for 485 yards and finished with 512 yards of total offense.
Na Alii (1-2, 1-6) trailed 28-0 at halftime, then out-scored the Sabers 20-0 in the third quarter.
“I will probably see the numbers in the paper, but my concern was that third quarter where we had some letdowns,” said Maui High coach David Bui. “We had some mistakes, things that kind of open our eyes, we need to do a better job coaching those areas up. They are young mistakes, too.”
With the young mistakes came some brilliance.
“It doesn’t happen without our offensive line,” Bui said. “They can be seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, but if the line doesn’t block they don’t get in. So, credit goes to the line.”
Maui High broke on top early behind a pair of big runs by Tasini.
After his 11-yard run gave the Sabers a first down on their own 46-yard line on the opening possession of the game, Tasini broke free on a 51-yard touchdown run two plays later.
The next time Maui High touched the ball, Tasini went for 15 yards on the first play from scrimmage and for 48 yards two plays later to King Kekaulike’s 5. Kelley scored on the next play.
Early in the second quarter, the Sabers took over on their own 45. Mario Fernandez ran for 26 yards on the first two plays and then Sau broke free for 29 yards up the middle to make the score 21-0.
Kelley added a 10-yard touchdown run 41 seconds before halftime to cap a 42-yard, five-play drive.
Na Alii scored a pair of touchdowns in the first minute and a half of the third quarter – on a 90-yard kickoff return on a reverse by Ian Manibog to open the second half and a 71-yard fumble return by Drevyn Tavares just over a minute later – and then came up with a fourth-and-1 stop at their own 12 midway through the quarter.
After the teams exchanged punts, Na Alii’s Charles Apuna leaped to catch a 48-yard scoring pass with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. That capped an 87-yard, six-play drive.
The Sabers responded to the threat by going back to Tasini, who carried four times for 46 yards on a six-play, 64-yard drive that ended with his 2-yard plunge with 10:46 to play.
“We work very hard every day, we just push ourselves as much as we can, we just come to play,” Tasini said.
Justin Cravalho recovered the squib kick after Tasini’s final score, and the Sabers put the game away with a 36-yard drive capped by Kelley’s 7-yard run with 8:52 to play. Kelley added a 6-yard touchdown jaunt with 4:31 left.
Another sophomore, Soane Vaohea, ran three times for 22 yards for Maui High and Sau had two carries for 49 yards. The Sabers handed the ball to nine different players.
King Kekaulike coach Kyle Sanches was encouraged by the fight his team put up.
“It’s still a learning process, Maui High is a disciplined team, they work hard, their offensive line is big, they’re physical and they did a good job tonight,” Sanches said. “It is always good to see our kids’ heart, the kids play hard and really just focus in on what they are doing. We started a little slow, we started a little flat, and we got that intensity up.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
King Kekaulike ….. 0 .. … 0 ….. 20 .. … 0-20
Maui High ……….. 14 ….. 14 . …. 0 ….. 21-49
MH-Elijah Tasini 51 run (Jared Kapisi kick), 9:59.
MH-Daniel Kelley 5 run (Kapisi kick), 7:01.
MH-Chazzaniel Sau 29 run (Kapisi kick), 7:00.
MH-Kelley 10 run (Kapisi kick), 0:41.
KK-Ian Manibog 90 kickoff return (Micah McDonald kick) 11:43.
KK-Drevyn Tavares 71 fumble return (McDonald kick), 10:32.
KK-Charles Apuna 48 pass from Ryley Widell (kick blocked), 0:26.
MH-Tasini 2 run (Kapisi kick), 10:46.
MH-Kelley 7 run (Kapisi kick), 8:52.
MH-Kelley 6 run (Kapisi kick), 4:31.
* * *
Junior varsity-Maui High 14, King Kekaulike 7.