WAILUKU - On a festive night, the Lahainaluna High School football team had much to celebrate.
The Lunas put an exclamation point on the first 10-0 regular season in the school's history with a 42-14 victory over Maui High during Lahainaluna's homecoming festivities on the final night of the Maui Interscholastic League season in front of about 6,000 fans Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.
It was a familiar storyline for the top-ranked Division II team in the KHON Cover 2 Power Poll: Defense and running the ball, while mixing in a few play-action passes.
Lahainaluna High School’s Jared Rocha-Islas carries the ball during the second quarter of the Lunas’ 42-14 victory over Maui High on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Maui High’s Austin Hoe releases a first-quarter pass over Lahainaluna’s Hercules Mataafa as the Sabers’ Junior Nau attempts to block.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The Lunas - 4-0 in the MIL second round and 8-0 in league play - appear to be a lock for a top-two seed in the state tournament and a bye to the semifinals, meaning they would not play until Nov. 15, when they are expected to host a game at War Memorial Stadium.
A preliminary seeding meeting has taken place and two officials familiar with the tentative brackets said Lahainaluna could be looking at a semifinal matchup with Kaiser.
The Cougars, who are in the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs, have been ranked as the second-best D-II team in polls all season.
FINAL MIL STANDINGS
|* * *|
Baldwin 46, King Kekaulike 7
Lahainaluna 42, Maui High 14
"I don't want to talk about our state rankings right now," Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada said. "They have their own little ranking system and seeding. I'm not a part of that, so I'm not going to get into that."
Tihada said a state bye would be beneficial in several ways for the Lunas.
"It is always good," he said. "It allows us time to scout these other teams, and, if we get the bye, to have them go and beat up on each other a little bit and we get a really good look at who we are playing."
Tihada said the time off would also allow his team time to prepare.
"We just want to make sure we get out there and make sure our kids work hard, try to show some discipline - we have got a ways to go as far as being a true Lahainaluna team," he said. "That's what we preach to our kids all the time and we are not there yet."
Maui High finished 2-2 in the second round, 4-4 in the league and 6-4 overall.
"They are tough, they come at you, they make you make mistakes and they capitalize on it," Sabers coach David Bui said of the Lunas. "They are going to be tough at the state tournament."
Makoa Filikitonga threw two touchdown passes, ran for a score and delivered Lahainaluna's third defensive touchdown in two weeks less than a minute and a half into the game when he intercepted an Austin Hoe pass and returned it 51 yards.
After a three-and-out series for the Sabers, Filikitonga ran 78 yards untouched for a 14-0 lead. He had touchdown runs in all of the Lunas' league games this year, with six scoring runs of more than 50 yards.
Filikitonga finished with 131 yards on 12 carries, while Jared Rocha-Islas gained 140 yards on 10 carries, giving him the MIL rushing title with 814 yards. Filikitonga finished third in the rushing race, five yards behind Baldwin's Dusty Flores. Flores' 152 yards rushing one night earlier had given him a 120-yard lead on Rocha-Islas.
The Lunas widened their lead when Jeffery Ancog broke free around the left end for a 24-yard scoring jaunt with 5:16 to go before halftime.
On the Sabers' next play from scrimmage, Hoe connected with Jared Kapisi, who broke through two defenders for a 65-yard score.
After a 62-yard run by Rocha-Islas, Christian Whitehead scored from 3 yards out to make the score 28-7 with 3:59 to go in the half.
Lahainaluna defensive end Hercules Mataafa recovered a fumble on Maui High's next possession, and Filikitonga lofted a pass that hit Scott-Isaac Medeiros-Tangatailoa in stride for a 43-yard score to cap the first-half scoring.
Mataafa also intercepted a pass early in the second half, and Lahainaluna finished with a 5-1 advantage in turnovers.
The Lunas turned on the mercy-rule running clock with 10:11 remaining in the third quarter when Jonathan Lolohea caught a 3-yard scoring pass from Filikitonga.
Maui High turned off the running clock with 4:11 to go in the fourth when Elijah Tasini scored on a 23-yard run.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Lahainaluna ..... 14 ..... 21 ..... 7 ..... 0-42
Maui High ........... 0 ...... 7 ..... 0 ..... 7-14
LL-Makoa Filikitonga 51 interception return (Jared Rocha-Islas kick), 10:36.
LL-Filikitonga 78 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 8:50.
LL-Jeffery Ancog 24 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 5:16.
MH-Jared Kapisi 65 pass from Austin Hoe (Kapisi kick), 5:06.
LL-Christian Whitehead 3 run (Rocha-Islas kick), 3:59.
LL-Scott-Isaac Medeiros-Tangatailoa 43 pass from Filikitonga (Rocha-Islas kick),
LL-Jonathan Lolohea 3 pass from Filikitonga (Rocha-Islas kick), 10:11.
MH-Elijah Tasini 23 run Kapisi kick), 4:11.
* * *
Junior varsity-Lahainaluna 34, Maui High 26.
# # #
BALDWIN 46, KING KEKAULIKE 7
King Kekaulike ..... 0 ....... 7 ..... 0 ......... 0-7
Baldwin .............. 13 ..... 12 ..... 7 ..... 14-46
B-Micah Pagaduan 33 run (kick failed), 7:51.
B-Kawela Kaeo-Mata 85 punt return (Ricky Casco kick), 2:33.
B-Kawela Kaeo-Mata 3 pass from Taje Akaka-Foster (pass failed), 3:32.
KK-Charles Apuna 91 kickoff return (Micah McDonald kick), 3:06.
B-Pagaduan 49 run (kick failed), 2:53.
B-Jeremiah Badillo 1 run (Akaka-Foster kick), 0:13.
B-John Maanaima 12 run (Akaka-Foster kick), 7:26.
B-Keenan Luis 25 run (Akaka-Foster kick), 4:55.
................................ KK ..... B
First downs ................ 9 ..... 23
Rushes-yards ..... 25-75 ..... 45-363
Passing yards .......... 39 ..... 25
Total offense ........... 114 ..... 388
Return yards .......... 203 ..... 118
Comp-Att-Int ...... 6-21-1 ..... 3-8-0
Fumbles-lost ........... 1-0 ..... 1-0
Penalties-yards ..... 6-39 ..... 7-75
Punts-avg ........... 7-34.3 ..... 2-32.5
RUSHING-KK, Kawika Homalon 6-23, Jay Braun 7-21, Jesse Chavez 5-14, Joshua Ogata 2-10, Ryley Widell 4-6, Reid Yonamine 1-1; B, Dusty Flores 18-152, Pagaduan 10-122, Luis 5-44, Maanaima 5-42, Kawena Alo-Kaonohi 1-6, Akaka-Foster 1-(minus 1), Badillo 5-(minus 2).
PASSING-KK, Widell 3-11-0-30, Chavez 3-10-1-9; B, Akaka-Foster 3-5-0-25, Badillo 0-3-0-0.
RECEIVING-KK, Austin Ferreira 2-13, Apuna 2-7, Braun 1-12, Brandon Haupu 1-7; B, Kaeo-Mata 2-11, Alo-Kaonohi 1-14.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-B, Casco 59 (SH), 41 (SH).