The record for Maui Interscholastic League football wins in a row is 20, set by Baldwin High School from 1968 to 1971.
The Bears have come close to that mark three times in their 59-2-1 league run that dates back to 2004, including a current streak of 17 straight wins that grew with a season-opening 25-5 victory over Maui High last week. But that run could be put in jeopardy tonight at War Memorial Stadium.
Without third-team All-State quarterback Keelan Ewaliko or MIL All-Star linebacker Jordan Hoiem available, Baldwin takes on a Lahainaluna team that has torn through its first two league opponents by a 65-0 count.
The Lunas, who beat Keaau 35-14 on the Big Island in nonleague play, is the only MIL team without an overall loss this season.
"It should be a good game, I mean, Lahaina is coming in 3-0," Baldwin coach A.J. Roloos said. "They are one game up on us in the MIL. ... It should be fun."
Ewaliko is nursing a broken rib suffered in a 46-0 loss to Saint Louis at Aloha Stadium two weeks ago. Roloos said his two-time MIL Offensive Player of the Year could be back next week - one week earlier than expected - but is definitely out for tonight.
This week in MIL Football
Lahainaluna vs. Baldwin
Today, War Memorial Stadium,
The Lunas can clinch the first-round title in Division II with a win. Lahainaluna leads the league in offense and defense, while the Bears are second in each category. The key battle will be the Lunas' rushing offense, averaging a league-best 223 yards per game, against the Bears' run defense, which allowed two net yards last week to Maui High.
Lunas at a glance
Lahainaluna has four of the top five rushers in the league, including No. 5 Kiko Kohler-Fonohema, who is also third on the passing list. The junior who is bouncing back from a broken jaw last season also leads the league in scoring, with four touchdowns.
Bears at a glance
Baldwin started to get their center snaps under control after an errant one led to a safety on the third play from scrimmage last week. Despite playing one MIL game, Ryan Garces and Kyson Kaiama are each among the top five in receiving.
at Kamehameha Maui
Saturday, Kanaiaupuni Stadium,
With a Luna loss, Na Alii can stay alive for the D-II first-round crown with a win. Both teams need to find some offense - the Warriors have just one touchdown in two games, while King Kekaulike was shut out in its opener. Kamehameha is fourth in the league on both offense and defense, one spot in front of Na Alii in each category.
Na Alii at a glance
Quarterback Ryley Widell was 15-for-21 passing in the first half of a nonleague loss to Kauai, but is 9-for-31 since. Keegan Gregg had 10 catches against Kauai in the first half, but just one since. Seabury Hall transfer Jay Braun leads the rushing attack.
Warriors at a glance
Kamehameha must cut down on the six turnovers from last week, half of which were interceptions off of receivers' hands. The Warrior defense was stout against Maui High and Lahainaluna, until turnovers took their toll. Chase Newton is tied for third in receiving, with four catches.
Hoiem, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior, is still battling a flu bug that kept him out of the Maui High game and is also out for tonight, according to Roloos.
Ryan Graham, a 5-7, 150-pound senior transfer from Kamehameha Maui, will get his second straight start in place of Ewaliko. Last week, Graham was 19-for-28 for 151 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions - six Bears caught passes.
Lahainaluna's defense leads the MIL, allowing just 72 yards per game after a 29-0 win over King Kekaulike and a 36-0 victory over Kamehameha Maui, when the Lunas forced six turnovers.
"Their defense, they fly around, they move around," Roloos said. "They are really quick on defense. Their secondary, their linebacking corps - they fly to the ball."
Baldwin has beaten the Lunas four times in a row, including shutouts of 14-0, 40-0, and 41-0 in the last three meetings. But Lahainaluna was also the last MIL team to beat the Bears, 28-14 on Nov. 6, 2009.
The Lunas-Bears game is always interesting, Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada said "depending on what year. Last year, we couldn't give them any kind of competition. Hopefully, we can do that this year, get them ready for the state (tournament)."
Baldwin has been to seven straight Division I state tournaments, including a semifinal appearance last season. Lahainaluna has been to five straight D-II tournaments, including the semifinals last year.
The Lunas depend on "six or seven" two-way starters, while Baldwin has one - Abraham Reinhardt, who returned a Maui High fumble 59 yards last week to give the Bears a 6-2 lead they would not surrender.
"I saw the ball on the ground and just thought to myself, 'This is a chance to change to the momentum of the game,' " Reinhardt said. "So, I just picked it up and ran to the touchdown."
Conditioning is a key for the Lunas, who have a roster of 37. Baldwin lists 64 varsity players.
"The key was our offseason," Tihada said. "We had a nice core group of kids in the weight room, working hard. We haven't had that in a number of years."
Connor Mowat, Joshua Coston, Hercules Mataafa and Lovai Hong all start both ways on the lines, while Jared Rocha-Isalas, Semisi Filikitonga and Tytus Lucas all see significant time in both backfields.
Lucas is the third-leading rusher in the MIL with 104 yards and is tied for second in scoring (12). Against Kamehameha, Lucas had two interceptions, 78 return yards on four touches, rushed six times for 23 yards and a touchdown, caught a pass for five yards and punted twice for 75 yards.
Rocha-Isalas, Filikitonga and Lucas are 1-2-3 in MIL rushing, but the bottom line has been the defense.
"They practice very hard all week on their schemes defensively," Tihada said. "It has worked out great so far for the first two games."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
|Friday, Aug. 31|
|Kamehameha Maui 0|
|Saturday, Sept. 1|
|Baldwin 25, Maui High 5|
|Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna|
|at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.|
|at Kamehameha Maui,|
|Friday, Sept. 14|
|Maui High at King Kekaulike,|
|Saturday, Sept. 15|
|Baldwin vs. Kamehameha Maui|
|at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.|