Lunas handle Sabers 48-0

Lahainaluna High School's Nainoa Kulukulualani-Sales runs in for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Lunas' 48-0 win over Maui High on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. -- THE MAUI NEWS photo

WAILUKU — The Lahainaluna High School football team finished its first-round business on Saturday night with a workmanlike 48-0 win over an injury-depleted Maui High team at War Memorial Stadium.

Now, the focus for both is the second round of Maui Interscholastic League play. Lahainaluna (4-0) won its 21st MIL game in a row — adding to its league record — while the Sabers fell to 0-4.

“We got everybody into the game,” Lahainaluna co-head coach Dean Rickard said. “We were fortunate that we were ahead to the point where we could do that. We realized Maui High was shorthanded with a lot of kids on injuries and whatnot.”

Lahainaluna pushed the lead to 48-0 on the first play of the second half when Tre Rickard ran back the kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown.

Lahainaluna took a 42-0 lead into the locker rooms at halftime to activate the mercy-rule running clock for the entire second half.

Lahainaluna’s Josh Tihada runs the ball in the second quarter. -- THE MAUI NEWS photo

The Lunas quickly took total control, scoring touchdowns on each of their first two plays from scrimmage after forcing three-and-out possessions and taking advantage of short punts by the Sabers.

The first score was a pretty 39-yard pass from Esekielu Storer to Kai Bookland, and the second was a 31-yard scamper around the right corner by Nainoa Kulukulualani-Sales that made it 14-0 with 7:17 left in the first quarter.

The Lunas pushed the lead to 20-0 on their next possession, going 65 yards in nine plays. Joshua Tihada dove in from the 1 for the touchdown.

Tihada capped the next drive with a 14-yard scoring run to increase the lead to 28-0 with 6:38 to go in the first half. Tihada also had 19-yard run on the drive that also included a 27-yard pass from Storer to Devon Sa-Chisolm.

Sa-Chisolm scored on a highlight-reel 50-yard catch on a pass from Storer to make it 35-0 with 1:42 left in the half.

Lahainaluna’s Nainoa Irish tackles Maui High’s Brex Delray with the help of Kekailoa Cajudoy (26) in the second quarter. -- THE MAUI NEWS photo

Tihada added the final score on a 1-yard run with 2 seconds left in the half after the Lunas recovered a Maui High fumble on the Sabers’ 21-yard line.

The Lunas had 16 first downs and 340 yards of offense in the first half, while limiting the Sabers to three first downs and 26 net yards. The final tally saw 14 different ball carriers for the Lunas, who finished with 409 yards of offense — they did not throw a pass in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Sabers had 15 players on the sidelines in street clothes due to injuries. The Lunas did not punt in the game.

“I really respect that coaching staff, keeping those kids motivated, keeping those kids in there playing hard,” Dean Rickard said. “All due respect to the kids who came out and played, going both ways a lot of them.”

MIL rushing single-season record holder Naia Nakamoto did not attend his second straight game for the Sabers, but coach Rodney Figueroa said he could not comment on his status.

“That’s why they’re contenders every year,” Figueroa said. “They do a good job out there in Lahaina, they’re very well-coached, they’re a very good team.”

The Sabers must now go back to the drawing board. The two-time defending MIL Division I champions do not get their second-round bye until the next-to-last week of the season, meaning they will play eight straight weeks, including their 20-19 nonleague win over Kauai.

“I think we saw tonight, these kids, they played the full game,” Figueroa said. “We saw some very big positives coming out of these four quarters. That was very good — it gives us some things to work on.”


Lahainaluna 20 22 6 0–48

Maui High 0 0 0 0–0

First Quarter

LL-Kai Bookland 39 pass from Esekielu Storer (Kaihulali Casco kick), 9:26.

LL-Nainoa Kulukulualani-Sales 31 run (Casco kick), 7:17.

LL-Joshua Tihada 1 (kick failed), 3:03.

Second Quarter

LL-Tihada 14 run (Tre Rickard run), 6:38.

LL-Devon Sa-Chisolm 50 pass from Storer (Casco kick), 1:42.

LL-Tihada 1 run (Casco kick), 0:02.

Third Quarter

LL-Rickard 84 kickoff return (run failed), 11:45.

Junior varsity-Maui High 20, Lahainaluna 9.