Lunas improve to 6-0 with shutout of Na Alii
WAILUKU — The Lahainaluna High School football team is starting to click on all cylinders.
Using a quick-strike offense that employed 11 different ballcarriers, a defense that delivered five takeaways — each of which led to a touchdown — and some impressive special teams play, the reigning Division II state champions won 52-0 over King Kekaulike on Friday night in a Maui Interscholastic League game at War Memorial Stadium.
“Our defense played great tonight and we’re happy to capitalize,” said Lunas co-head coach Garret Tihada.
All of the turnovers were in the first half — the last was an interception by Derek Perez that he returned 59 yards for a score and a 42-0 lead.
T.J. Galoia, a 6-foot, 265-pound freshman who usually plays offensive line, ran for two touchdowns and passed for another for Lahainaluna (6-0 overall, 2-0 second round), and also scored on a 2-point conversion. Pablo Rico kicked a 48-yard field goal that sailed through the uprights with plenty of room to spare in the third quarter.
Na Alii (0-6, 0-2) were eliminated from postseason contention.
“The Lunas are tough, man, and they keep getting tougher every time we see them,” King Kekaulike co-head coach Tyson Valle said. “I like how they’re consistent with their program, they keep moving, and they keep building, so, impressive.”
Lahainaluna scored the first touchdown on a three-play, 32-yard drive on its second possession. Elijah Ragudo reached the end zone on a 9-yard run after the short field was set up by a 21-yard punt return by Mystic Kauhaahaa.
The Lunas then generated takeaways on Na Alii’s next three snaps.
Aliksa Pihda recovered a fumble after a 17-yard pass from King Kekaulike’s Rilee Peters to Arik Mendoza, setting up Joshua Tihada’s 16-yard touchdown run, and after Jesse Dudoit intercepted Peters on a tipped ball, Sione Faleta caught a 14-yard pass from Galoia three plays later. A fumble recovery by Leovigildo Amby led to a six-play drive capped by Galoia’s 7-yard scoring run.
Following another King Kekaulike fumble, Lahainaluna went 57 yards in seven plays, pushing the lead to 35-0 on an 11-yard run by Galoia.
Perez scored with 1:18 left in the first half.
Etuati Storer, the Lunas’ regular starting quarterback, was dressed for the game after missing last week’s overtime victory over Maui High with an injury, but did not play. Nainoa Irish, who played quarterback last week, missed the game because of a sprained ankle he suffered late in last week’s game. Kamahao Acpal finished 4-for-7 passing for 80 yards.
“They had some unfortunate drops, guys wide open, sure touchdowns,” Garret Tihada said. “We got to get some kids in there that don’t play, so that was nice.”
Rico kicked off nine times for the Lunas, with eight touchbacks. The sixth of his kickoffs hit the crossbar on the fly, 70 yards away.
Lahainaluna posted its best point total since a 55-6 victory over King Kekaulike in 2013.
Na Alii dressed 24 players, one less than last week.
“Our kids, they definitely play hard,” Valle said. “I mean these guys don’t give up.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Lahainaluna 28 14 3 7 — 52
King Kekaulike 0 0 0 0 — 0
LL–Elijah Ragudo 9 run (Pablo Rico kick), 4:45.
LL–Joshua Tihada 16 run (T.J. Galoia run), 3:52.
LL–Sione Faleta 14 pass from Galoia (Rico kick), 2:55.
LL–Galoia 7 run (kick failed), 0:30.
LL–Galoia 11 run (Rico kick), 2:24.
LL–Derek Perez 59 interception return (Rico kick), 1:18.
LL–Rico 48 FG, 6:37.
LL–Haaheo Au 41 run (Rico kick), 10:57.
Junior varsity–Lahainaluna 48, King Kekaulike 3.
MIL SECOND-ROUND STANDINGS
Overall MIL record in parentheses
W L Pct PF PA
Baldwin (3-2) 1 0 1.000 55 6
x-Maui High (2-3) 0 1 .000 17 24
W L Pct PF PA
x-Lahainaluna (6-0) 2 0 1.000 76 17
KS Maui (2-2) 0 0 .000 0 0
King Kekaulike (0-6) 0 2 .000 6 107
x-won first-round championship
Lahainaluna 52, King Kekaulike 0
Maui High vs. Kamehameha Maui at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 6
Baldwin at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 7
King Kekaulike at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.