Na Alii’s rally against Ka Makani falls short, 20-19

Hawaii Prep’s Todd Hill brings down King Kekaulike’s Trey Hunter during the first quarter of Ka Makani’s 20-19 win over Na Alii on Saturday. -- West Hawaii Today / RICK WINTERS photo

The King Kekaulike High School football team came as close to a victory on Saturday as it has been since 2014.

Na Alii lost 20-19 to Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Big Island, but things are getting better for the Upcountry team, according to co-head coach Tyson Valle. King Kekaulike trailed 20-0 at halftime and missed a chance to take the lead on a 2-point conversion with less than 3 minutes to play.

“Basically, towards the end is when we started picking up the pace,” Valle said via phone before boarding the flight home. “I think if we had that same amount of effort and energy put into the first half, we’d have been OK.”

Valle said there was no hesitation on the decision to go for the win after their third touchdown, the second scoring pass from Franco Melgar Martich to Trey Hunter that came with 2:46 to play. Lanakila Day was stopped on the conversion attempt, a run up the middle.

Hunter’s scoring catches were from 17 and 23 yards — Na Alii’s first touchdown came on a 28-yard interception return by Helmut Finau.

“We were thinking win, absolutely,” Valle said. “For these guys to turn it around, they need to know what it’s like to win. We have all the key elements in place, we need to take home a ‘W.’ “ These guys are getting closer and closer. We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

King Kekaulike has not won since Sept. 5, 2014, a 23-13 win over Kamehameha Maui. Saturday was Na Alii’s 33rd straight loss. Last week, they opened with a 31-14 loss to McKinley in a game that was 18-14 midway through the third quarter.

“We have to take care of our mistakes and create opportunities so we can succeed,” Valle said. “The way they came back in the second half today is what we need to see from the start. There’s not too many teams that would be down 20 points in the first half and come back like we did today.

“For these guys, I’m real proud of them that they dug in. The defense clamped it down in the second half, offense threw the ball. We had some backs that made some plays, we got into the end zone. It was an exciting second half — if we did that in the beginning, we’d have been OK.”

Na Alii open Maui Interscholastic League play on Aug. 18 when they host Maui High.

King Kekaulike 0 0 6 13–19

HPA 0 20 0 0–20

Second Quarter

HPA–Sheldon Aribal 70 run (kick good).

HPA–FG Conor Hunt 25.

HPA–Keawe Strance 30 fumble return (kick good).

HPA–FG Hunt 26.

Third Quarter

KK–Helmut Finau 28 interception (kick failed).

Fourth Quarter

KK–Trey Hunter 23 pass from Franco Melgar Martich.

KK–Hunter 17 pass from Melgar Martich.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING–King Kekaulike, Melgar Martich 5-22, Lanakila Day 4-12, Hunter 5-18, Zack Hokoana 5-10, Elijah Finau 2-(minus-2) Logan Kaina 5-(minus-3). HPA, Aribal 15-112, Todd Hill 4-8, Seth Beach 15-(minus-50).

PASSING–King Kekaulike, Melgar Martich 10-25-2-131. HPA, Seth Beach 7-16-1-127

RECEIVING–King Kekaulike, Hunter 6-71, Elijah Finau 3-38, Logan Kaina 1-22. HPA, Justin Lina, 1-53, Strance 3-51, Jaysen Bragado 1-10, Kai Bram 1-13, Sheldon Aribal 1-0 .

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MIL FOOTBALL

Friday’s Result

Kauai 28, Maui High 14

Saturday’s Results

Bartlett (Alaska) 74, Baldwin 55

Hawaii Prep 20, King Kekaulike 19

Molokai 14, Pahoa 8 (8-player)

Friday, Aug. 17

Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

American Leadership Academy (Ariz.) at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 18

Maui High at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.

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