Lunas finish perfect round
Lahainaluna rushes for 398 yards, beats Kamehameha 39-19
PUKALANI — The Lahainaluna High School football team has been at or near the top of the Maui Interscholastic League for several years, but the Lunas methodically finished off an undefeated round in the MIL for the first time in three seasons Friday night.
Lahainaluna ran for 398 yards and the two passes the team threw went for touchdowns in a 39-19 win over Kamehameha Maui in front of a standing-room-only, homecoming crowd at Kanaiaupuni Stadium.
“Our kids came off the ball and sustained some blocks,” Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada said after his team clinched the league’s Division II first-round title. “We were fortunate with the way the game went.”
Elijah Ragudo ran for 180 yards and a touchdown for the reigning state champions. Joshua Tihada had 109 rushing yards and two scores for the Lunas (4-0), who recorded an unbeaten round of MIL play for the first time since 2014, when the team won all of its league games.
“It’s good, but we just have got to take the little steps, we have got to make sure that we … win or lose, we just have to improve,” Garret Tihada said.
Kainoa Sanchez completed 14 of 15 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns for the Warriors (2-2).
Lahainaluna put the game away by scoring 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter — Joshua Tihada ran 10 yards for his second touchdown of the game before the Lunas stopped the Warriors on downs on the next series when Nyles Pokipala-Waiohu tackled Sanchez for a 2-yard loss at the Kamehameha 40-yard line. A 13-yard touchdown pass from Nainoa Irish to Aliksa Pihda then made it 39-13 with 5 minutes, 10 seconds left.
“They’re one of the best programs on this island,” said Warriors coach Ulima Afoa. “We’ve got a lot to catch up on, but it is what it is.”
Kamehameha had cut its deficit to 12 with 5:08 remaining in the third quarter on Nathan Facuri’s 69-yard TD catch — he grabbed a Sanchez pass that bounced off the hands of the Warriors’ Tristan Catan and the Lunas’ Bailey Honda.
Sanchez, who completed his first 11 passes, also ran 17 times for 77 yards. His final throw was a 4-yard touchdown to Facuri with 41 seconds to go.
“That’s part of turning a culture around, you learn how to play until they tell you you can’t play anymore,” Afoa said. “Give them credit, we can’t spot them 25 points.”
The Lunas led 25-7 at halftime. Ragudo ran eight times for 128 yards in the half — his 35-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter pushed the lead to 19-7.
Joshua Tihada’s 1-yard scoring run capped seven-play, 66-yard drive on Lahainaluna’s first possession, and William Kai Bookland caught a 17-yard scoring pass from Etuati Storer on the Lunas’ next series to finish a seven-play, 78-yard drive.
The Warriors cut their deficit to 13-7 on the next snap, when Tyerell Baldonado-Kaleiopu caught a pass in the flat and broke two tackles on the way to an 80-yard touchdown.
Baldonado-Kaleiopu was playing in his first MIL game of the year, returning from a foot injury. The senior, who has a scholarship offer from Navy, finished with six catches for 118 yards, while Facuri had five receptions for 94 yards.
“It helps when you have guys like Tyerell back,” Afoa said. “Glad to have him back. Instead of them just double-teaming one side, now they have to figure out how to take care of Nate and Tyerell.”
Storer ran 11 yards for a score with 6:55 remaining in the first half.
The Lunas had an 18-yard touchdown pass called back by a holding penalty on their first drive of the second half and Pablo Rico eventually came up short on a 35-yard field-goal try after the snap was bobbled.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Lahainaluna 13 12 0 14–39
KS Maui 7 0 6 6–19
LL–Joshua Tihada 1 run (Pablo Rico kick), 7:26.
LL–William Kai Bookland 17 from Etuati Storer (kick failed), 1:45.
KSM–Tyerell Baldonado-Kaleiopu 80 pass from Kainoa Sanchez (Michael Singh kick), 1:29.
LL–Elijah Ragudo 35 run (run failed), 11:51.
LL–Storer 11 run (pass failed), 6:55.
KSM–Nathan Facuri 69 pass from Sanchez (kick blocked), 5:08.
LL–Tihada 10 run (Rico kick), 11:55.
LL–Aliksa Pihda 13 pass from Nainoa Irish (Rico kick), 5:10.
KSM–Facuri 4 pass from Sanchez (pass failed), 0:41.
Junior varsity–Lahainaluna 28, Kamehameha Maui 6.
W L Pct PF PA
Baldwin 2 1 .667 123 49
Maui High 1 2 .333 81 53
W L Pct PF PA
x-Lahainaluna 4 0 1.000 144 52
KS Maui 2 2 .500 103 110
King Kekaulike 0 4 .000 19 206
x-clinched first-round championship
Lahainaluna 39, Kamehameha Maui 19
Maui High vs. Baldwin at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
End of first round
Friday, Sept. 22
Baldwin vs. King Kekaulike at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 23
Maui High at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.