Sabers charge past Na Alii

Nakamoto rushes for 304 yards, three touchdowns in Maui High’s 41-13 win

Maui High School running back Naia Nakamoto gets past King Kekaulike’s Hanalei Akina in the first quarter of the Sabers’ 41-13 victory over Na Alii on Friday at War Memorial Stadium. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

WAILUKU — Naia Nakamoto has simply been unstoppable for the Maui High School football team this season.

After having a 76-yard touchdown jaunt called back by a penalty on the prior drive, Nakamoto ripped off a 46-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 41-7 with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter of a 41-13 win over King Kekaulike on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.

It was the third touchdown for the rugged 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior and the third time he scored on a long run on the first play of a drive.

Nakamoto finished with 304 yards and three scores on 16 carries — he now has 763 yards rushing in four league games. He has 550 yards and seven touchdowns rushing in his last two games.

“I think our offensive line has really been putting in work these past few weeks and our scheme, our coaching, is very good,” Nakamoto said. “I was really surprised, (King Kekaulike) came out firing off the ball. Our O-line had to adjust a little bit and it just came all together.”

Maui High’s Jeremy Gonzalez tries to break free from King Kekaulike’s Arik Mendoza in the first quarter Friday. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Maui High is now 3-1 in Maui Interscholastic League play, 1-0 in the second round. King Kekaulike fell to 0-4, 0-1.

“Once again, pleased by our effort,” Maui High coach James Kammerer said. “I give King Kekaulike a ton of credit. They fight really, really hard. It took a lot out of our offense.”

The highest rushing number since 2006 in an MIL season was the 966 yards that Maui High’s Soane Vaohea recorded in 2015.

“Specifically, Naia is really becoming a leader — we had him as a captain tonight and we just look forward to continuing great things for him,” Kammerer said.

Na Alii added the final score of the night on a 5-yard run by Zyrus Paton in the fourth quarter. The touchdown was set up by an interception by Elijah Finau.

The Sabers’ Trey Gaspar intercepts a pass in front of Mone Tongi in the second quarter. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

The Sabers took a 34-7 lead into halftime after a busy first quarter and a second quarter that did not see any points until the final play.

Maui High’s Trey Gaspar intercepted a deep pass by T.J. Perkett and rambled 62 yards down the right sideline to score with 0:00 on the second-quarter clock to push the Sabers’ lead to 27 points.

In the first quarter, Maui High took the first possession 57 yards in six plays, scoring on an 11-yard pass from Brex Delray to Mitchell Hirose.

Hirose also caught a 21-yard strike two plays before the touchdown. The other four plays were runs by Nakamoto that totaled 21 yards.

Na Alii quickly answered when Trey Hunter fought for a pass over the middle over a Saber defender — Hunter then outsprinted the defense for a 91-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:32 left in the first quarter.

King Kekaulike’s Trey Hunter runs in the second quarter. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

It was Hunter’s first reception since he had 10 catches for three scores and a state-record 342 receiving yards in the Sabers’ 41-20 win over Na Alii on Aug. 18.

On the ensuing drive, Nakamoto broke free down the left sideline on the first play from scrimmage and tiptoed his way into the end zone on a 61-yard scoring run.

After the Sabers’ defense forced a three-and-out, Hirose fielded the punt and returned it 53 yards before being pushed out inside the 1-yard line. Delray dove into the end zone on the next play.

After forcing another three-and-out, Nakamoto ran 61 yards for a score again on the next play from scrimmage. It was nearly an exact replay of his last touch of the ball.

Nakamoto had 195 yards rushing in the first quarter, but his three rushes in the second quarter netted a negative 3 yards.

Na Alii have now lost 37 games in a row dating back to September 2014.

“Strong, they run the ball hard — Naia’s doing good,” King Kekaulike coach Tyson Valle said. “I think for us, we’re just trying to find our nitch on the offensive side, defensive side. So, we got some talented kids. Still young kids, but I think we’re starting to find our groove.”

* Robert Collias is at


King Kekaulike 7 0 0 6–13

Maui High 27 7 7 0–41

First Quarter

MH–Mitchell Hirose 11 pass from Brex Delray (Delray kick), 9:38.

KK–Trey Hunter 91 pass from T.J. Perkett (Peighton Akina kick), 4:32.

MH–Naia Nakamoto 61 run (Delray kick), 4:10.

MH–Delray 1 run (kick blocked), 2:43.

MH–Nakamoto 61 run (Delray kick), 1:10.

Second Quarter

MH–Trey Gaspar 62 interception return (Delray kick), 0:00.

Third Quarter

MH–Nakamoto 46 run (Delray kick), 3:30.

Fourth Quarter

KK–Zyrus Paton 5 run (kick failed), 9:15.

Junior varsity–Maui High 61, King Kekaulike 6.




(Overall MIL record in parentheses)



Maui High (3-1) 1 0 1.000 41 13

Baldwin (1-3) 0 0 .000 0 0



Lahainaluna (3-0) 0 0 .000 0 0

KS Maui (2-1) 0 0 .000 0 0

King Kekaulike (0-4) 0 1 .000 13 41

Friday’s Result

Maui High 41, King Kekaulike 13

Today’s Game

Baldwin at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 28

Lahainaluna at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 29

Maui High vs. Kamehameha Maui at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.