Lahainaluna finally got the 2013 football season started with a preseason game against Kapaa at War Memorial Stadium.
Like last year when I flew to Hilo to shoot their preseason opener against Keaau, I was nervous coming into the game. The previous week, Kapa'a manhandled Nanakuli 52-10 in their preseason opener on Kauai. The Lunas defeated Nanakuli in the HHSAA quarterfinals and they still had the Troutman fellow at quarterback. Kapa'a's quarterback Fresno Masinai had a huge game. So yeah, I was nervous.
The expectations are high. I want these kids to do well. I want them to accomplish their goals. I want them to feel first hand the feeling that all the hard work they put in does pay off at the end. Lahaina is always proud of this team, win or lose, but it would be indescribably special for this team to bring home a football state championship to Lahaina. The general feeling I have is that if this team stays healthy and maintains their grades, they have a great chance of making this happen. So yeah, I was nervous.
My concerns were assuaged on the first play from scrimmage. The Lunas' dominating defense picked up where they left off. A botched hand-off left the ball on the ground and Hercules Mataafa scooped it up and ran 34 yards for the TD. Just like that, Lunas up 7-0.
Lunas defense led by Mataafa and Connor Mowat stopped the Warriors for a three and out.
On the ensuing punt (which was almost blocked by Christian Whitehead), Kiko Fonohema returned it 40 yards to put the Lunas deep in Kapaa territory.
A few plays later, Christian Whitehead rambled in from 11 yards out to make it 14-0.
The Lunas got back on the board with just over 2 minutes left in the half when Kiko Fonohema, heeding the advice of his defensive coaches on positioning, intercepted a pass and sprinted 81 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to make it 21-0.
The Warriors of Kapa'a responded with a 44 yard run for a score just before halftime to make it 21-7.
The Lunas came out lackadaisical in the second half. The Lunas fumbled at their own 5 yard line and the Warriors were able to score a few plays later to make it 21-13 (kick failed). Then a short kick by Kapaa was returned by Ekolu Chang, but he was stripped of the ball. The defense clamped down and the offense settled down the rest of the way.
Sione Filikitonga was somewhat rusty at quarterback, with a fumble that was almost returned for a touchdown and an interception that was returned for a touchdown but was called back due to a penalty at mid-field. But he redeemed himself with a beautiful 68 yard run untouched up the middle to put the game away at 28-13.
The Lunas, ranked 10th in the State coming into the game, still have some work to do. But all in all, the team did well against a very capable Kapaa team, despite having half the team in street clothes, including key players such as Galoia, Martin, Kaleikini, Puteni, Medeiros-Tangatailoa and Purdy. Hopefully they are well enough/eligible soon.
The next game is against Mount Douglas of British Columbia (Sydney/Victoria side) on Saturday, August 24 at War Memorial Stadium. Game starts at 7pm. The team should be wary of this team. It is a very accomplished team, and was a state champ recently. They have a returning senior running back, Marcus Davis, that was the star of a B.C. all-star team that defeated a U.S. all-star team in January. For the article, click here.
For more photos, click here.