Honda, Lins lead Lunas into state cham­pi­onship

The Maui News - - SPORTS - By ROBERT COLLIAS Staff Writer

LA­HAINA — Bai­ley Honda has been with the La­hainaluna High School foot­ball pro­gram since start­ing as wa­ter boy in the 5th grade. Dal­ton Lins started learn­ing the Lunas’ of­fen­sive line schemes a cou­ple years be­fore even at­tend­ing high school.

The best friends with long­time ties to the Lunas are both set to grad­u­ate in May with grade-point av­er­ages above 4.0, but their fi­nal exam in La­hainaluna foot­ball comes Satur­day at Aloha Sta­dium in the First Hawai­ian Bank Di­vi­sion II state cham­pi­onship game against Kon­awaena. “It’s crazy to me,” Lins said. “I was part of this pro­gram since 7th grade and just worked my way up through the Big Boy pro­gram in mid­dle school, JV as a fresh­man, and then mov­ing up to var­sity af­ter that JV sea­son. It’s just crazy that it’s my last ride with th­ese guys.”

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Lins, who wants to study busi­ness in col­lege, has a clear fu­ture in the game at the next level. The 5-8, 135pound Honda, pri­mar­ily a de­fen­sive back who also plays some quar­ter­back and spe­cial teams, plans to study me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing at Brigham Young Univer­sity.

“It makes this Satur­day one of the most im­por­tant games I’ve ever played and a lot of th­ese guys, it’s the most im­por­tant game that they will ever play in their ca­reers, for sure,” Lins said. “It just gives us a lot of mo­ti­va­tion to go out there and do our jobs.”

La­hainaluna co-head coach Gar­ret Ti­hada says Honda is the most vo­cal leader on the team — with Lins a close sec­ond — every day at prac­tice un­der the La­haina sun at Sue Coo­ley Sta­dium.

“It’s just con­stantly try­ing to find mo­ti­va­tion for my team­mates,” Honda said. “Whether it’s us­ing Sue D. Coo­ley as an ex­am­ple of her spirit watch­ing us or us­ing the com­mu­nity as them com­ing out to sup­port us, we have to do our jobs to make them show that it wasn’t a waste of their money. It’s just con­stantly find­ing a mo­tive to drive th­ese boys.”

Lins may miss play­ing with Honda the most.

“It’s amaz­ing, like he said, he’s one of my best friends, too,” Lins said. “He’s a 4.0 stu­dent, too, like me and he’s just able to lead this team re­ally well. We make a great team be­ing able to work to­gether.”

Honda and Lins, who have gone 26-11 in three sea­sons with the Lunas, are the un­ques­tioned lead­ers of a team that fea­tures 23 se­niors.

“Not just those two, but this whole se­nior class, they’ve been with us since the Big Boys league and that’s a lot of time spent in the weight room, and off­sea­son train­ing,” Ti­hada said. “We’re go­ing to miss them dearly, not just be­cause they’re good play­ers, but be­cause they’re good kids. Those two are smart, Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety kids right there.”

Honda knows his foot­ball play­ing ca­reer will end on Satur­day.

“It’s go­ing to help me push me to be my 100 per­cent, of course, know­ing it’s my last game, and all of my friends’ last game,” Honda said. “I love this team with all my heart and know­ing that I got to lead this team makes me glad be­cause go­ing back I al­ways looked up to the cap­tains. Ever since the 5th grade, you al­ways looked up to the cap­tains every sin­gle year, try­ing to build up to be the per­fect team cap­tain when it be­comes your turn.”

The Lunas, the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons and No. 1 seed this sea­son, sur­vived against eight­time D-II state cham­pion Iolani in the semi­fi­nals. The Lunas ran to a 35-10 half­time lead and held on for a 35-27 win.

“Since Iolani I think we’ve just had a big­ger fo­cus on how im­por­tant each minute of the game is,” Lins said.



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