WAILUKU - It appears the emotion is back.
In a hard-fought game that evoked memories of battles the Baldwin and Maui high school football teams used to have routinely, the Bears outlasted the Sabers 25-5 on Saturday night in front of about 4,000 fans at War Memorial Stadium.
The passion overflowed midway through the third quarter when a Maui High assistant coach was ejected for arguing a spot after a fourth-and-1 run by the Sabers' Soane Vaohea was marked short.
Baldwin High School’s Kaipo Lapenia-Lau heads upfield during the first half of the Bears’ 25-5 victory over Maui High on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium in a matchup of the Maui Interscholastic League’s Division I teams.
BEN JUAN photo
Baldwin coach A.J. Roloos talks to quarterback Ryan Graham during the first half of Saturday’s game.
BEN JUAN photo
The Sabers’ John Cobb looks for running room.
BEN JUAN photo
That gave the ball to the Bears on their own 45-yard line, and two personal-foul penalties moved them to the Sabers' 25. A roughing-the-passer call moved the ball to the 12, but Baldwin settled for a 25-yard field goal by Zacharia Coloma-Mariano to account for the final score.
Earlier in the third quarter, Coloma-Mariano kicked a 39-yard field goal to increase a 19-5 halftime lead for Baldwin, which won for the 23rd time in a row against Maui High dating back to 2000. In the teams' two meetings last season, the Bears outscored the Sabers 72-6.
Baldwin was the final team to play its Maui Interscholastic League opener this year. Maui High, the league's only other Division I team, fell to 1-1.
"We knew they were going to show up tonight," Bears coach A.J. Roloos said of the Sabers. "They had a great win last week against Kamehameha, but once we got our nerves settled down, the kids settled down, and we started to show what we've got."
Baldwin quarterback Ryan Graham, a senior transfer from Kamehameha Maui in just his second varsity start, completed 19 of 26 passes for 151 yards in relief of two-time MIL Offensive Player of the Year Keelan Ewaliko, out with a broken rib. MIL All-Star linebacker Jordan Hoiem also missed the game with the flu.
"There were some nerves, but after the first play they kind of all went away," Graham said. "I always have faith in my boys, no matter what the score is on the board, no matter how many mistakes we do. I always have faith in them because I know they can do their assignments as well as anybody else."
On the game's third play from scrimmage, a bad snap sailed over the head of the 5-foot-7 Graham and he kicked the ball out of the end zone for a safety.
After the teams traded punts, the Sabers had the ball on the Bears' 36. Baldwin then forced a fumble and Abraham Reinhardt recovered and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown and a 6-2 lead with 6 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Sabers went 53 yards in seven plays to set up a 40-yard field goal by Jared Kapisi with 2:39 left in the first.
On that drive, a 15-yard pass from Kalvin Aboy to Kapisi gained a first down after the Bears were flagged for a personal foul, and on the next play, Raymon Ledesma hauled in a 40-yard strike from Aboy to put the ball on the 13. A bad snap, a procedure penalty and two incomplete passes forced the field goal.
The teams exchanged punts again, but the Sabers lost 19 yards on a bad snap of their own and their punt went just 18 yards, giving Baldwin the ball on the Maui High 36 with 8:11 left in the half.
Graham, who was 7-for-8 passing in the first half for 88 yards, completed back-to-back 5-yard passes to Kyson Kaiama for a first down to the 26. Kaipo Lapenia-Lau did the rest on three runs to put the Bears up 13-5 with 6:03 left in the half.
Baldwin's defense came up big again with a gang-tackle of Moana Vainikolo short on fourth-and-inches, which gave the Bears the ball on their 44 with 3:14 left in the half.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, Graham hit a wide-open Ryan Garces for 52 yards. Lapenia-Lau dove in in four plays later, with 37 seconds left in the half.
Baldwin held Maui High to just 35 total yards in the first half as 10 of the Sabers' 15 rushes went for zero or negative yardage. The Bears outgained the Sabers 206-113 for the game.
"We are just trying to close the gap on them," Maui High coach David Bui said. "Our boys played pretty tough, but not tough enough. Our defense plays well every night, we just have to get both sides of the ball going."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Baldwin ......... 6 ..... 13 ..... 6 ..... 0-25
Maui High ..... 5 ....... 0 ..... 0 ....... 0-5
MH-Safety, Ryan Graham kicks ball out of end zone, 10:37.
B-Abraham Reinhardt 59 fumble return (kick failed), 6:11.
MH-Jared Kapisi 40 FG, 2:39.
B-Kaipo Lapenia-Lau 10 run (Zacharia Coloma-Mariano kick), 6:03.
B-Lapenia-Lau 1 run (kick failed), 0:37.
B-Coloma-Mariano 39 FG, 8:00.
B-Coloma-Mariano 25 FG, 3:01.
Junior varsity-Baldwin 18, Maui High 7.
Baldwin ......... 1 ..... 0 ..... 1.000 ..... 25 ....... 5
Maui High ..... 1 ..... 1 ....... .500 ..... 15 ..... 32
Lahainaluna ......... 2 ..... 0 ..... 1.000 ..... 65 ....... 0
King Kekaulike ..... 0 ..... 1 ....... .000 ....... 0 ..... 29
KS Maui ............... 0 ..... 2 ....... .000 ....... 7 ..... 46
Lahainaluna 36, Kamehameha Maui 0
Baldwin 25, Maui High 5
Friday, Sept. 7
Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8
King Kekaulike at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.