Honda, Lins lead Lunas into state championship
LAHAINA — Bailey Honda has been with the Lahainaluna High School football program since starting as water boy in the 5th grade. Dalton Lins started learning the Lunas’ offensive line schemes a couple years before even attending high school.
The best friends with longtime ties to the Lunas are both set to graduate in May with grade-point averages above 4.0, but their final exam in Lahainaluna football comes Saturday at Aloha Stadium in the First Hawaiian Bank Division II state championship game against Konawaena.
“It’s crazy to me,” Lins said. “I was part of this program since 7th grade and just worked my way up through the Big Boy program in middle school, JV as a freshman, and then moving up to varsity after that JV season. It’s just crazy that it’s my last ride with these guys.”
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Lins, who wants to study business in college, has a clear future in the game at the next level. The 5-8, 135-pound Honda, primarily a defensive back who also plays some quarterback and special teams, plans to study mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University.
“It makes this Saturday one of the most important games I’ve ever played and a lot of these guys, it’s the most important game that they will ever play in their careers, for sure,” Lins said. “It just gives us a lot of motivation to go out there and do our jobs.”
Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada says Honda is the most vocal leader on the team — with Lins a close second — every day at practice under the Lahaina sun at Sue Cooley Stadium.
“It’s just constantly trying to find motivation for my teammates,” Honda said. “Whether it’s using Sue D. Cooley as an example of her spirit watching us or using the community as them coming out to support us, we have to do our jobs to make them show that it wasn’t a waste of their money. It’s just constantly finding a motive to drive these boys.”
Lins may miss playing with Honda the most.
“It’s amazing, like he said, he’s one of my best friends, too,” Lins said. “He’s a 4.0 student, too, like me and he’s just able to lead this team really well. We make a great team being able to work together.”
Honda and Lins, who have gone 26-11 in three seasons with the Lunas, are the unquestioned leaders of a team that features 23 seniors.
“Not just those two, but this whole senior class, they’ve been with us since the Big Boys league and that’s a lot of time spent in the weight room, and offseason training,” Tihada said. “We’re going to miss them dearly, not just because they’re good players, but because they’re good kids. Those two are smart, National Honor Society kids right there.”
Honda knows his football playing career will end on Saturday.
“It’s going to help me push me to be my 100 percent, of course, knowing it’s my last game, and all of my friends’ last game,” Honda said. “I love this team with all my heart and knowing that I got to lead this team makes me glad because going back I always looked up to the captains. Ever since the 5th grade, you always looked up to the captains every single year, trying to build up to be the perfect team captain when it becomes your turn.”
The Lunas, the defending champions and No. 1 seed this season, survived against eight-time D-II state champion Iolani in the semifinals. The Lunas ran to a 35-10 halftime lead and held on for a 35-27 win.
“Since Iolani I think we’ve just had a bigger focus on how important each minute of the game is,” Lins said.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships
At Aloha Stadium
D-II final: Lahainaluna vs. Konawaena, 2 p.m.
D-I final: Hilo vs. Damien, 5 p.m.
Open final: Kahuku vs. Saint Louis, 8 p.m.