Lu­nas win

La­hainaluna clinches D-II ti­tle

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - Staff Writer By ROBERT COLLIAS

PUKALANI — The La­hainaluna High School foot­ball team has con­vinc­ingly stamped it­self as one of the best teams in the state, re­gard­less of clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

The two-time de­fend­ing Divi­sion II state cham­pi­ons clinched their 12th straight trip to that state tour­na­ment with a com­mand­ing 47-0 win over Kame­hameha Maui at Kana­iaupuni Sta­dium on Fri­day night.

The Lu­nas (7-0) won their 18th game in a row over­all, the sec­ond­longest win­ning streak in the state be­hind top-ranked Saint Louis. La­hainaluna is ranked fifth in the state by the Honolulu Star-Ad­ver­tiser and

sixth by scor­inglive.com.

“We re­ally, re­ally stud­ied dur­ing

the week, but the de­fense again, lights out,” La­hainaluna co-head coach Gar­ret Ti­hada said.

La­hainaluna has outscored seven MIL op­po­nents 259-19.

The game with the War­riors matched the top-ranked of­fense in the MIL — Kame­hameha Maui came into the game av­er­ag­ing 400.4 yards per game — against the Lu­nas’ top-ranked de­fense.

“Lights out again,” Ti­hada said. “This is a good of­fen­sive team. Our de­fen­sive staff did their home­work and these guys ap­plied what they learned all week. It was amaz­ing. They rec­og­nized Kame­hameha’s strengths and shut that down.”

The Lu­nas held the War­riors to 61 yards of of­fense and seven first downs, two in the sec­ond half. The Lu­nas in­ter­cepted three War­riors passes on the night.

La­hainaluna gained 385 yards of of­fense — 197 on the ground, 188 in the air.

“It was a very, very stress­ful week,” Ti­hada said. “The score doesn’t in­di­cate it, but we knew com­ing in this was go­ing to be a bat­tle. That’s just a credit to our kids — they worked their tails off this week. They took it re­ally, re­ally se­ri­ously be­cause they know how good these guys are.”

La­hainaluna turned on the mercy-rule run­ning clock when Joshua Ti­hada dove in from 1 yard out to make it 380 with 6 min­utes, 6 se­conds left in the third quar­ter.

Then in a span of nine se­conds, the Lu­nas pushed the lead to 47-0. They blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety with 58 se­conds to go in the third quar­ter and then Devon Sa-Chisolm re­turned the en­su­ing free kick 56 yards for a touch­down.

The Lu­nas rolled to a 31-0 lead at half­time on the strength of a bal­anced at­tack. Ti­hada ran for two scores and Nainoa Ir­ish threw two long touch­down passes.

Ti­hada’s 16-yard scor­ing run capped a six-play, 40-yard drive on the Lu­nas’ open­ing pos­ses­sion. The short field was set up by a 19-yard punt re­turn by Tre Rickard.

The War­riors de­fense stopped the Lu­nas af­ter a 10play drive on their next pos­ses­sion, and Pablo Rico upped the lead to 10-0 with a 21-yard field goal.

La­hainaluna needed just three plays to cover 51 yards, push­ing the lead to 17 on a 36yard strike from Ir­ish to Kawehi Gill­coat on the first play of the sec­ond quar­ter.

Ir­ish hit Kai­hu­lali Casco on a pass down­field on the next pos­ses­sion — Casco rose above his de­fender, snagged the ball and fin­ished a 75-yard scor­ing pass with 9:24 left in the half.

Ti­hada’s 3-yard touch­down run gave the Lu­nas five scores on their first five drives — this time they cov­ered 64 yards in six plays to take a 31-0 lead. Ti­hada ran three times for 19 yards on the drive.

Kame­hameha (3-3) had its best drive on its fi­nal pos­ses­sion of the half, go­ing 67 yards in 14 plays, but were stopped on downs at the Lu­nas’ 13yard line with less than a minute to go in the first half. The drive was helped by a rough-the-punter penalty that gave Kame­hameha Maui a first down on the Lu­nas 34.

War­riors coach Ulima Afoa de­clined com­ment af­ter the game.

The Lu­nas are the likely No. 1 seed in the six-team Divi­sion II state play­offs, mean­ing they will prob­a­bly not play an­other mean­ing­ful game un­til Nov. 17. They do have a make-up game against King Kekaulike slated for Oct. 27 at Sue Coo­ley Sta­dium.

“We’ll take that over play­ing ev­ery sin­gle week,” Gar­ret Ti­hada said. “At this point of the sea­son, we’ve got guys banged up and all that.”

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

La­hainaluna High School’s Joshua Ti­hada fol­lows the blocks of Joshua McCoy and Shel­don Frias while pick­ing up a first down near the goal line dur­ing the first quar­ter of the Lu­nas’ 47-0 win over Kame­hameha Maui on Fri­day night at Kana­iaupuni Sta­dium.

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER pho­tos

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP PHOTO: La­hainaluna de­fen­sive back Kai­hu­lali Casco is slowed by Kame­hameha Maui’s Karsyn Pupunu af­ter in­ter­cept­ing a sec­ond-quar­ter pass. Trail­ing the play is the War­riors’ Dane Abarra. Kame­hameha Maui quar­ter­back Tris­tan Catan is pres­sured by La­hainaluna’s Eli­jah Oliveira-Kalalau as he throws a first-quar­ter pass. The Lu­nas’ Kai Book­land tries to es­cape from the War­riors’ Cruz Braun in the first quar­ter.

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