PUKALANI - The first win of the season couldn't have come on a better night for the King Kekaulike High School football team.
In front of a packed house of about 2,500 fans at King Kekaulike Stadium on homecoming and senior night, Na Alii scored the final three touchdowns in a 19-7 victory over Kamehameha Maui.
Senior Aaron Alama put the final touches on the win with a 9-yard scoring run with 1 minute, 46 seconds to play. Alama had 92 yards on 10 carries, all in the second half.
King Kekaulike High School’s Masson Lacno heads upfield during the first half of Na Alii’s 19-7 victory over Kamehameha Maui on Friday at King Kekaulike Stadium.
BEN JUAN photo
Na Alii bent but didn't break on defense in the first half and took a 12-7 lead on a 3-yard pass from Ryley Widell to Onosai Emelio with 8:00 left.
"We had a great week of practice, the kids responded really well, the coaches did a really good job, I didn't screw everything up that bad," said first-year King Kekaulike coach Clarence Rivers. "This is what it's all about - having people happy afterwards."
The win lifts Na Alii to 1-5 in the MIL (1-1 in the second round) and keeps their faint postseason hopes alive. Kamehameha (2-5, 1-2) was the first league team officially eliminated from title contention.
MIL SECOND-ROUND STANDINGS
|Maui High (2-4)||0||2||.000||31||70|
|King Kekaulike (1-5)||1||1||.500||19||49|
|KS Maui (2-5)||1||2||.333||31||68|
Overall MIL record in parentheses
x-won first-round championship
King Kekaulike 19, Kamehameha Maui 7
Lahainaluna vs. Baldwin at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 19
Baldwin vs. Kamehameha Maui at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20
Maui High vs. King Kekaulike at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
After being dominated statistically in the first half, Na Alii had big plays and an advantage on the stat sheet themselves in the second half. On the go-ahead drive, Widell found Masson Lacno for a 38-yard pass to the 3-yard line, and on the final scoring drive, Alama broke free on a 47-yard run to the 20.
"The only thing I impressed on the guys was: 'We have got to be one play at a time, one game at a time, and go from whistle to whistle. If we get the effort, if we minimize the mistakes and we do what we have been coaching, we will be OK,' " Rivers said. "We put it together tonight."
Na Alii were playing their final home game of the year.
"This is a special time because it is also senior night," Rivers said. "The seniors will never play on this field again, they will never play against Kamehameha again, they won't even get on the teal and black 'K' in the middle of the field. It's rewarding and I'm just happy that people were here to share it, that's all. Our focus is on finishing up strong this year. We have two more games and like I told the guys, 'We should shoot to be 3-1 (in the second round) - that would be a perfect season for us."
Kamehameha took a 7-6 lead into the locker rooms, but had chances for a larger edge.
The Warriors went in front 7-0 after going 92 yards in 10 plays on the first possession of the game, finding the end zone on Chase Newton's zigzagging 34-yard run with 7:06 left in the first quarter.
They had a golden opportunity to increase the lead two drives later when they went 76 yards to the 2 early in the second quarter, but after Newton executed a pretty play-action fake, he overshot Aydan Lopes in the end zone. Lacno, who finished the night with three catches for 61 yards, intercepted the ball and returned it 50 yards to King Kekaulike's 47. Na Alii's drive ended with a bad snap after they lined up for a 36-yard field goal attempt.
King Kekaulike forced a three-and-out, however, and then put together a 10-play, 69-yard drive, closing within a point on Emelio's 3-yard run. The play that set up the score was a 35-yard roll-out pass from Widell to Romeo Cabbat to the 3 - Widell escaped pressure and Cabbat rolled to the sideline with his quarterback.
The Warriors got to Na Alii's 13 on the final drive of the first half.
Kamehameha piled up 205 yards in the first quarter and 284 for the half. King Kekaulike had 108 in the half, 88 of which came in the second quarter. In the second half, Na Alii had a 203-75 advantage.
Kamehameha's Makoa Medeiros had 84 rushing yards on eight carries in the first half, Stephen Barut had six carries for 63 yards and Newton had seven for 54.
The Warriors had a 12-7 advantage in first downs in the first 24 minutes, but Na Alii turned that number around 9-3 in the second half.
"One of the things that I noticed about Kekaulike is that they have improved every week," Kamehameha coach Kevin O'Brien said. "They have gotten better as the season has gone along, every single week they have gotten better. So that's a credit to their kids, that's a credit to their coaches. Their school and their community should be very proud of the effort that their coaches and kids have given."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Kamehameha Maui ..... 7 ..... 0 ..... 0 ......... 0-7
King Kekaulike ............ 0 ..... 6 ..... 0 ..... 13-19
KM-Chase Newton 34 run (Kamahao Romero kick), 7:06.
KK-Onosai Emelio 3 run (kick failed), 2:17.
KK-Emelio 3 pass from Ryley Widell (pass failed), 8:00.
KK-Aaron Alama 9 run (Widell kick), 1:46.
* * *
Junior varsity-King Kekaulike 21, Kamehameha Maui 0.