Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preseason: LAHAINALUNA 26, KEA'AU 6 August 20, 2011

Now that was more like it!

Lahainaluna rebounded from a disappointing preseason opener and controlled their second game from the start, beating the visiting Cougars of Kea’au High School 26-6 at the Imu.

As the Lunas took the field, it was another typical hot Lahaina day.

The only shade on the field seemed to be under the goal posts, which the Lahainaluna coaches took advantage of.

Fortunately for everyone, it became overcast for most of the afternoon. So while my pictures did not come out the greatest because of the strong white background from the overcast skies (I prefer the blue skies as a backdrop for my shots), it was not as scorching hot as the week before.

The Lunas moved the ball well on the first series, including a nice counter by BJ Pagdilao Bala,

a nifty pass to Bronson Kaina

and a run to the left side by Semisi Filikitonga for the game’s first touchdown.

The Lunas scored on their second possession, capped off by a nice run by BJ Pagdilao-Bala, who literally went untouched into the end zone from about 13 yards out.

 Running for daylight . . .

The defense came out strong, stopping the Kea’au offense early and often . . .

Sam Filiai with the sack

despite Kea'au's interesting attempt to distract the Lunas by not wearing underwear.

Late in the first quarter, a high snap sailed over the head of Lunas’ quarterback Kiko Fonohema who was unable to recover it.  Keaau advanced the ball into the red zone, thanks to a leaping catch by Keaau’s #5 Damien Cinco.

Despite tough defense by the Lunas in the red zone, 
Keaau eventually scored on a 2 yard pass for their first score of the game. Their extra point attempt failed. Score: Lahainaluna 12, Keaau 6.

On their next possession, the Lunas were determined to score.

Despite some good plays, their drive stalled at mid-field and they had to punt. On the ensuing possession, Keaau quarterback #4 dropped back and was immediately blind-sided by the Lunas Hercules Mataafa just as he released the pass.

 Lunas’ defensive back Kaena Felicilda made a leaping interception at the 30 yard line,

With the help of a block from Mark Alamon and other defensive lineman leading the way, Felicilda raced untouched down the sideline for a touchdown with about 3:37 left in the half.

Filikitonga converted the 2-point conversion to make the score Lahainaluna 20, Keaau 6. For the remainder of the game, the Lunas’ defense took over.

 #55 Feleti Taufa hurries the quarterback with a fearsome rush, leading to a sack by fellow defensive lineman #23 Reece Sinenci

 #32 Tytus Lucas with the near-interception in the red zone. Great attempt!

 #21 BJ Pagdilao Bala makes the acrobatic shoestring interception after a pass thrown by the Kea'au quarterback came to quickly for his receivers

 Lunas' defense
 #55 Feleti Taufa with sack #1
 The heart of the team: two-way lineman Feleti Taufa, Samuel Filiai and Hercules Mataafa
 #55 Feleti Taufa and #50 Hercules Mataafa eye another sack of the quarterback

 Sack #2 for Feleti Taufa

After a great run by Lunas’ quarterback Kiko Fonohema that left him just short of the end zone (should’ve had a face mask call on that one),

Semisi Filikitonga sealed the game with another rushing touchdown, thanks again to a downfield block by running back Mark Alamon. The extra point failed, making the score Lahainaluna 26, Kea’au 6.

The defense came in to shut the door and preserve the win.

The Lunas’ roster, described by Coach Tihada as very young and inexperienced, lists 6 freshmen – all of whom play both ways. In addition to #54 Connor Mowat, who starts as the center,

the other freshmen have played minutes in this preseason:

#42 Jared Rocha
 #12 Ansen Cabanilla

#24 Scott Medeiros-Tongatailoa
#43 Robert Campos
#73 Justin Hong

Hopefully they will continue to improve and stay healthy.

All in all, it was an encouraging win for a very young team. The offense seemed to flow better, and defensively, they would bend at times but they did not break. Their tackling and getting to the ball carrier were much improved. Special teams, primarily the kicking game for extra points, continue to be a weak point. Hopefully they will improve in that area.

Looking forward to the MIL opener this weekend versus King Kekaulike at the Imu on Satuday, August 27, 2011. It will be the last game of the season at the Imu, as the remaining MIL schedule will be played primarily at War Memorial Stadium with a game up at King Kekaulike. The Junior Varsity makes its long-awaited debut, probably starting at 11:00am, to be followed by the varsity at 1:30pm. See you there!

My Two Cents

I am definitely taking advantage of the day games here at Lahainaluna. 2089 shots taken! Thank God I’m shooting digital and not film! But the shooting conditions at Lahainaluna’s field are so good, in my humble opinion, with the bright green turf, the blue sky, the green hillside and the Lunas’ red uniforms, that I have to take shots the whole game. The price to pay for great shots on the beautiful field is exhaustion and heat stroke from 4 plus hours in the sun. Fortunately, it was overcast and somewhat breezy so that made it tolerable.

Not sure how I’m gonna survive shooting both the JV and the Varsity games next Saturday. I’ll definitely need back-up batteries, extra memory cards, ice and ben gay for my arms and shoulders afterward! Wish I could sneak a cooler onto the field – I’d have some water and fruit to help me survive. I wore my plantation hat for this game but after seeing shots of me on the field with the hat on, I’m not sure if it’s a look I like. Still, it protected the back of my neck from being burned out there. We’ll see how it goes.

With the 2089 shots that I took, I had a heckuva time selecting which ones to post on Facebook and on the Maui News CU web page. I ended up with 367 shots (usually for football,  I average between 100-150). There were a lot of great plays that I was able to get clearly and a lot of sequences that I wanted to show in their entirety, such as Pagdilao-Bala’s touchdown run in the 1st quarter, Tytus Lucas’ near interception near the goal line, Pagdilao-Bala’s shoestring interception at the goal line, Hercules Mataafa’s hit on the quarterback leading to Kaena Felicilda’s interception for a touchdown at the end of the first half and Kiko Fonohema’s scramble in the fourth quarter that ended up just short of the end zone, but I managed to catch an apparent face mask that wasn’t called.

With Denton and his assistant covering the Lunas’ sideline, I decided to start the game off shooting from the visitor’s sideline. That way, I could provide another angle on the action as often times Denton and I have similar shots of the same play. In addition, I wanted to get shots of the Lahainaluna players and coaches on the sidelines.

All in all, I was happy with my vantage point. First of all, a lot of the action in the first half came towards my sideline which was great! Second, there were no officials, first down markers or other extraneous people getting in the way of my shots. Third, I had an unobstructed view of the cheerleaders so that I could incorporate some shots of them. Fourth, the background was fairly uniform, which I think allowed the autofocus system on my camera to focus better on the action, leading to more “keepers”.

The downside to shooting that side of the field: first, it’s the other team’s sideline. Can’t be cheering too much. Plus you hear all the moans and groans from all the good calls the refs were making (or not making). Second, I can’t see the people in the stands that well from down there. I managed to get shots of my niece, Fred Sinenci and his family, but not much else. Third, if it was a blue sky day, it would’ve been perfect. But it was overcast and the white backdrop made it difficult to get nice consistent exposures on my shots. Very difficult to see faces and eyes inside the helmet due to the harsh backlighting glare from the overcast sky.

The second half I moved to the Lunas’ side of the field. I got some shots of the people in the stands, although because it was halftime, the stands were not full. Looks like most of the people were having a good time.

 Samantha Feyen showing off her dance moves. Nice hat there, Ana Lauese!

 Next week is gonna be interesting. Two full games. Non-stop. I need to be more selective in what I post – 367 pictures for one game is too much. Can’t help it though when my Nikon D7000/Sigma 50-500mm combination is getting it done! Ha ha ha. Better enjoy that now because War Memorial will be a different story.

Click here for the Maui News recap and stats.

Click here to view all my posted photos of the game and the Fire Up the Imu and pregame activities.

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