Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MIL Football: LAHAINALUNA 29, MAUI HIGH 10 - September 16, 2011

New Look

The Lunas debuted their new uniforms tonight. Will take some getting used to, but they looked good.

Please Tytus, whatever you do, DON'T GET HURT!!!

There were far too many players in blue jeans for this game. The quality of the players sitting out was also concerning – many starters and players in skill positions. Although the game was against Maui High, this was still a game that the Lunas had to win to stay in contention for the Division II title. Most of all, we did not want to lose to Maui High. Not again.

Sitting out this game:  John Mishima, John Lacuesta, Jarin Pasco-Cabanilla, Kiko Fonohema, Chanse Uyeda, Jonah Reyes, Sam Filiai, Jacob Kenolio-Dusenberry, Dillon Magalianes, Jesse Watson and #13 new white dude from the Pacific Northwest.

Most significant – with starting quarterback Kiko Fonohema out, along with his back-up Jacob Kenolio-Dusenberry, that meant that Mr. Utility Man/Play Every Down Tytus Lucas was going to be the starting (and only) quarterback for the Lunas on this night. Who knows who would fill in for quarterback if Tytus got hurt! Not only was he the starting quarterback, playing every play on offense, he was also the punter and played linebacker/defensive back on defense. He literally had to be on the field for every play the entire game! In the end, after he scored a touchdown to put the game out-of-reach (finally), I was so happy for him.

 An Ugly Win is a Beautiful Win

The first half was ugly. Neither team could move the ball well. Matthew Thayer, Maui News photographer, asked me where number 84 was. I guess he was looking for Kaena Felicilda because he had made some big plays throughout the season. I told Matt that Kaena was wearing #47 and not to expect any big pass plays to him anytime soon because the top two quarterbacks are out and I doubt that the Lunas were going to try any big pass plays in this game. We both chuckled and agreed that this was going to be an ugly game.

Ugly or not, I still wanted the Lunas to win. It didn’t look too good early on. The Lunas drove deep into Saber territory but fumbled near the goal line.  The Lunas defense stood tough and almost got the Sabers QB for a safety, but he stuck his arm out and tried to place the ball on the 1 yard line. Fortunately for Lahainaluna, he let go of the ball and it was ruled a fumble.

The Lunas recovered but could NOT punch it in from the one yard line on 4 tries!

The Sabers’ running game was actually moving the ball up and down the field quite well. If not for penalties, they really could have done some damage. Fortunately, the Sabers were only able to manage a field goal to take a 3-0 lead in the second quarter.

Towards the end of the first half, the Lunas were finally able to sustain a drive into Maui High territory were Jared Rocha broke free and ran in for a 7 yard touchdown just before halftime. Lunas up 7-3.

Second half, the struggles continued for both teams. Lucas shanked a couple of punts, including one that almost returned for a touchdown when the ball bounced near the Lunas sideline and no one went to down it. It was scooped up by a Maui High player who was tackled before he got to the endzone. Luckily the Lunas defense held and Maui High did not score.

Deep in their own territory, the Lunas’ Tytus Lucas dropped back for a pass (both teams combined for a dismal 1-20 in passing). The pass hit a defensive lineman in the helmet. The ball popped straight up and was picked up by linebacker Fred Sims who raced untouched from 15 yards out for the touchdown just before the end of the 3rd quarter. Sabers now up 10-7.

Things were not looking good for the Lunas offensively. But fortunately, they made things happen on defense. The Lunas were able to pin the Sabers back deep in their own territory. Then on 4th down, the Sabers inexplicably took an intentional safety, making the score 10-9 in favor of the Sabers.

The Sabers kicked to the Lunas, who could not muster anything and punted again after a 3 and out. The Lunas were able to get off a great punt to put the Sabers deep in their own territory. The Sabers’ tried to run a double reverse from the 18 yard line. The reverse was successful in the first half, but this time the Lunas were ready for it. The Lunas’ forced a fumble which was recovered by #55 Feleti Taufa on the 6 yard line.

The Lunas were able to punch it in on the next play, on a run by #42 Jared Rocha, and the Lunas were able to take the lead 15-10.

With the lead, the Lunas hoped their defense would continue to hold Maui High’s offense down. Unfortunately, on the very next play, Maui High’s Jarrin Cabo took the ensuing kick off and raced 77 yards toward what seemed to be a momentum-shifting, game changing touchdown. But Lunas’ #42 Kaena Felicilda never gave up on the play and chased Cabo down, taking him out at the 7 yard line.

Still, with just about 6 minutes left to play, the Sabers were in great position to score a touchdown and take back the lead. Fortunately, the Sabers shot themselves in the foot. A play action pass play resulted in Sabers’ quarterback Vaha being sacked for a 12 yard loss.

A deep pass to the far corner of the end zone was overthrown. A dump pass up the middle only netted 4 yards. Then on 4th and 15, Maui High tried some more trickery with a flea flicker. Vaha pitched the ball back to #9 Fred Sims who dropped back for a pass.

Lunas’ #55 Feleti Taufa charged straight in to sack Sims, but Sims got off a pass.

Taufa was able to affect the pass, as it wobbled into the waiting arms of Lunas’ DB #22 Semisi Filikitonga, who returned the interception 70 yards to the Sabers 20 yard line.  

Several plays later, the Lunas’ iron man Tytus Lucas scored to make the score 22-10 with 3:55 left.


Talk about a roller coaster. The Lunas took a lead 15-10 only to see it almost evaporate on the very next play. Thanks to the hustle of Kaena Felicilda, the Lunas were able to keep the kick returner from finding the end zone. Thanks to the defense of the Lunas, they turned what looked like an easy scoring opportunity for the Sabers to retake the lead into a scoring opportunity for the Lunas at the other end.
The Lunas were again able to turn the ball over on the Sabers’ next possession, this time it was Tytus Lucas again – this time with an interception off a long pass from Vaha.

The Lunas tried to run out the clock, this time using the bruising running style of their “tank”, Bronson Kaina. Unfortunately, the ball seemed to have a mind of its own. Despite cradling the ball in both hands, the ball managed to slip out of Kaina’s arms and was recovered by the Sabers.

The Sabers, however, fumbled the ball on a running play to their sideline. In the scrum, Lunas’ defensive back #10 Mark Alamon came up with the ball and raced untouched 29 yards for another touchdown with about 1:31 remaining. Lunas up 29-10.

The final score of 29-10 was by no means indicative of how close the ball game was. The result was in doubt well into the 4th quarter and momentum seemed to shift back and forth quickly. Thanks to the Lunas defense and miscues by the Sabers’ offense, the Lunas were able to score 22 points in the 4th quarter.
Given the injuries to the team and lack of depth, the Lunas will a win any way they can get it. Hopefully, there won’t be as many blue jeans on the sidelines next week as they face Kamehameha Schools Maui in a battle between the two Division II schools.

For the Maui News article on this game, click here.

For the rest of my photos from this game, click here.

For a video slideshow/time lapse of all my pictures, click here:

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