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Tihada headed to UNLV

Lunas star running back to be preferred walk-on

Joshua Tihada of Lahainaluna High School rushed for 2,417 yards in four MIL seasons and 1,087 yards in nine state tournament games. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Lahainaluna High School senior Joshua Tihada, the leading career rusher and scorer in Maui Interscholastic League football history, accepted a preferred walk-on spot to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas on Thursday.

Former Baldwin standout and coach Chad Kauhaahaa was the point person in the recruitment, Tihada said. Kauhaahaa signed on to coach defensive line for UNLV last month after being let go by USC.

“Me and mom guys and my dad actually had a connection with coach Chad for a while now,” Tihada said. “But recently he has just really been reaching for me and talking to the coaches and he really pushed for me, helped me get a spot on the team.”

Tihada made his decision Thursday and let Kauhaahaa know of his commitment.

“I called him today and he told me he’s really ready for me to come in during the summer and put some work in so that’s what’s going on right now,” Tihada said. “It is a relief.”

Tihada scored more touchdowns in Hawaii state tournament history than anyone else with 19 in his career — he broke the previous record of 12 as a junior. He scored 67 touchdowns in his prep career, including an MIL single season-record 17 in eight league games in 2019. He capped his career with a state tournament-record 310 yards rushing in a 21-10 win over Kapaa in the HHSAA Division II championship game in November.

He was named Division II state player of the year by scoringlive.com.

Tihada leaves Lahainaluna with two MIL Offensive Player of the Year awards from The Maui News, and the Lunas are currently riding an MIL-record 25-game league winning streak. He rushed for 2,417 yards in four MIL seasons and 1,087 yards in nine state tournament games in his career.

He will join Tuipulotu Lai, The Maui News 2019 Defensive MIL Player of the Year, as a college player. Lai has signed to play at Brigham Young.

“Definitely, that’s important — I just want to paint the picture for the younger athletes from a small town like Lahaina, coming from Maui,” Tihada said. “I just want to pave a pathway so they can live out their dreams.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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