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Na Alii break through vs. Sabers

King Kekaulike holds off Maui High for first MIL win in five years

King Kekaulike High School’s Trey Hunter picks up a first down during the second quarter of Na Alii’s 14-12 win over Maui High on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — The last Maui Interscholastic League victory for the King Kekaulike High School football team came 5 years and 1 day before Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.

Na Alii broke their 39-game league losing streak with a 14-12 win over Maui High in front of about 2,000 fans — it was the first MIL victory for King Kekaulike since a 23-13 win over Kamehameha Maui on Sept. 5, 2014.

Trey Hunter, Na Alii’s do-everything senior, was 12 years old the last time his high school won a league game. The result leaves Na Alii (1-1) alive in the MIL Division II first-round race, while dealing a huge blow to the Sabers (0-2) in D-I.

“Man, it feels amazing, all the work that we put in throughout the years,” Hunter said after running for 101 yards and the eventual winning touchdown, completing a pass for 28 yards, catching a pass, punting five times for a 48-yard average, returning four kicks for 72 yards and playing stellar defensive back as well. “To finally get this ‘W,’ words cannot explain this moment.”

The Sabers crept within 14-6 on a 3-yard scoring run by quarterback Brex Delray with 7 minutes, 23 seconds to play. That capped a five-play, 75-yard drive that started with a 51-yard pass to Kaeo Miguel.

Sabers quarterback Brex Delray is tackled by Na Alii’s Helmut Baschleben Finau. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Delray scored on a 1-yard keeper with 1:28 left to make it a two-point game, but Kainalu Pahia knocked down his two-point conversion pass in the end zone and Na Alii ran out the clock. The final drive was kept alive on an 18-yard pass from Delray to Sione Lolohea to the 5 on fourth-and-12.

“This is huge for us, these guys worked hard, especially guys like Trey, guys who have been there since the start, the beginning of what we started,” King Kekaulike coach Tyson Valle said. “These guys hang in there — you ain’t going to find any tougher kids out there than these guys, man.”

Both teams had scoring chances go awry early in the second half before a bizarre exchange left Na Alii on top by two touchdowns.

Hunter returned the third-quarter kickoff 44 yards, and a 15-yard penalty on Maui High at the end of the play gave King Kekaulike a drive that started at the Sabers’ 41-yard line.

Hunter fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Maui High’s Aasin Laeda recovered at the Sabers’ 41.

Maui High’s Brex Delray releases a first-quarter pass Friday. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Sabers reached Na Alii’s 23-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

After a 39-yard punt by King Kekaulike, a key moment in the game happened on an apparent 38-yard pass from Delray to Riley Johnson that put the ball on the King Kekaulike 23.

There appeared to be a fumble at the end of the play recovered by King Kekaulike, but after huddling the officials ruled that an inadvertent whistle had been blown.

Therefore, the play was run again, although the ball was placed on the Maui High 34 for third-and-10 when the original play had been from the 39 on third-and-5.

The ensuing play was a fumble in the Maui High backfield that was recovered by King Kekaulike’s Isaac Akinaka on the Sabers’ 32.

The Sabers’ Kaeo Miguel catches a first-quarter pass as Na Alii’s Seth Myer Fernandez defends. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Hunter scored from 2 yards out four plays later — he ran for 20 yards to the 12 on the first play of the drive. Thor Ventura’s PAT made it 14-0 with 6:05 to play in the third quarter.

Na Alii nursed a 7-0 lead into the locker rooms on the strength of Kali Kuhaulua’s 1-yard scoring plunge that culminated a nine-play, 57-yard drive.

Hunter ran five times on the possession for 22 yards and completed a 28-yard pass to Seth Myer Fernandez, which took the ball to the Maui High 8-yard line.

Na Alii had a golden opportunity to boost the lead on a 14-play, 60-yard drive that ended in a missed 35-yard field goal try by Ventura with 2:24 left in the half. The possession was kept alive by a 6-yard run by Hunter out of punt formation on fourth-and-3.

“Hey, great job for them,” Maui High coach Rodney Figueroa said. “They’ve been building this program up at King K and they came at us tonight. Great job by their coaching staff getting their kids prepared. They gave us a great game. Our kids didn’t give up until the end. But, you know, they came out — my hats off to them.”

Maui High’s Rusty Abalos comes down with a second-quarter interception. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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King Kekaulike 7 0 7 0–14

Maui High 0 0 0 12–12

First Quarter

King Kekaulike’s Franco Melgar Martich rolls out to pass in the second quarter. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

KK–Kali Kuhaulua 1 run (Thor Ventura kick), 7;07.

Third Quarter

KK–Trey Hunter 2 run (Ventura kick), 6:05.

Fourth Quarter

MH–Brex Delray 3 run (run failed), 7:23.

MH–Delray 1 run (pass failed), 1:28.

Junior varsity–Maui High 20, King Kekaulike 3.

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MIL STANDINGS

DIVISION I

W L Pct PF PA

Baldwin 1 1 .500 36 57

Maui High 0 2 .000 20 45

DIVISION II

W L Pct PF PA

Lahainaluna 2 0 1.000 80 21

KS Maui 1 1 .500 54 35

King Kekaulike 1 1 .500 26 58

Friday’s Result

King Kekaulike 14, Maui High 12

Today’s Game

Kamehameha Maui at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 13

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

Saturday, Sept. 14

Kamehameha Maui at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.