I was so glad to have made it to this game. I had a hearing to attend to in Honolulu and it was scheduled to go well into the afternoon. We were able to wrap it up and catch an earlier flight back to Maui. I had packed my camera gear in my truck and had it at the airport just in case, but I still had time to work an hour at the office before I took a vacation hour and headed to the stadium.
As a full-time lawyer, nothing has become more relaxing and enjoyable than shooting sports, especially football and especially after a long stressful week of work. Surrounding myself with some great kids, coaches, parents and fans of Lahainaluna makes a lot of the stress go away. Not even an unforeseen freak downpour that started in the second half of the game into the varsity game could wipe that smile off my face!
This was the second MIL game for the JV team. After last week's shocking last second loss to Kamehameha Maui, it was important to get back on the winning track. On paper, you would think Lahainaluna would have the edge on King Kekaulike just based on performance over the past few years. However, at this level, having one or two standout playmakers can make the difference between a good team and a mediocre team. King Kekaulike possessed such a player in its quarterback #22 Akahi. He looked big, strong and athletic and he just looked like a football player. He led his team much like how Sione Filikitonga led the Lunas JV last year. The option was confusing the Lunas' defense quite a bit and the Na Alii were able to move the ball up and down.
|Makana Kaaikala cheering on her little brother Kalalani before heading off to college to play basketball.|
Down 35-28 late in the 4th quarter, the Lunas went on a sustained drive that ate up clock, scoring a touchdown with just over a minute left. The coaches decided to go for the 2-point conversion in the pouring rain. A strong surge by the offensive line and a strong second effort by the ball carrier got the team the 2-point conversion and the 36-35 lead. The defense made stops when it counted and preserved the win. The Lunas evened their MIL record to 1-1.
|The O-Line played huge tonight|
|Ivan Upfold-Pante with another crucial run on the game winning touchdown drive|
|Kaya Phillips with the touchdown . . . the ball broke the plane of the goal line before it was popped loose|
|Going for two and win|
|Two-point conversion! Lunas up 36-35|
|Varsity boys cheer on their younger bretheren|
|Lunas defense preserve the victory|
|Coaches Ray Wise, Darren Kawahara, Nolle Smith and Andy Claydon celebrate the win|
|Coach Chris Pino shows his appreciation|
|The unsung heroes|
Another one point game, but this time in Lahainaluna's favor. It's gonna be an interesting year!
For more photos, click here.
NOTE TO SELF: Be prepared for rain, even if it looks sunny outside and Guy Hagi says it is not gonna rain. Because you never know . . .