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MIL FB preview No. 4: Lahainaluna Lunas
August 26, 2011 - Robert Collias
Never this young, the Lahainaluna High School football team is the only MIL football team to record a nonleague win, 26-6 over Keaau last week at "The Imu."
Then, again, they lost 14-0 to Pac-Five in their first game and didn't look great offensively doing that.
The Luna defense has limited both opponents to under 180 yards, a stat that was trimmed from this story for space considerations:
LAHAINA - As the West Maui sun bakes "The Imu," Lahainaluna High School's shiny, year-old $4 million Matrix Field turf rises like an oasis.
As young as the playing surface is at the 180-year-old school, the 2011 version of the football team may be younger.
Last year, they said goodbye to three-year starting quarterback T.J. Rickard, as well as Mitchell Loewen, the Maui Interscholastic League Defensive Player of the Year now walking on at Arkansas - they were part of a senior class that won four straight MIL Division II titles, including a share of the overall crown with Baldwin in 2009.
Back is one starter, two-way lineman Feleti Taufa. The 44-player roster includes six freshmen - three of whom started and played both ways in a season-opening 14-0 loss to Pac-Five - and just 14 seniors.
Throw in 11 players who missed the nonleague opener with academic difficulties, as well as injuries to three starters - J.R. Kenolio-Dusenberry, a slotback-defensive back who broke his arm against Pac-Five, wide receiver-defensive back John Mishima (broken leg) and linebacker John Lacuesta (knee) - plus only five players listed at more than 210 pounds, and the picture becomes clearer.
Just how up and down this team may be this season was reflected in Lahainaluna's 26-6 win over Keaau in the second and final nonleague game, when nine of the academic casualties returned.
"I cannot remember that few starters or this much freshmen," said co-head coach Garret Tihada, who has been on the Lunas' staff for 24 years. "If we get one (varsity) freshman every 10 years, that is pretty incredible."
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