Lunas Advance to Div. II Title Game with 28-0 Win
By Rodney S. Yap
Lahainaluna High School handled its business on Oahu like it has done all year on the Valley Isle — with a shutout, its seventh of the season.
The stout defense that has been the signature of this 2012 Lunas football team crushed Nanakuli’s glass slipper Saturday at Aloha Stadium, 28-0, before an estimated crowd of about 2,200.
Second-seeded Lahainaluna will now face top-seeded Iolani for the First Hawaiian Bank Division II State Championship on Friday, Nov. 23, at Aloha Stadium, beginning at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on OC16 via pay-per-view only.
The five-time Division II champion Red Raiders advanced by shutting out Radford, 43-0, in the second semifinal Saturday.
Lahainaluna improves to 9-1 overall.
Meanwhile, Nanakuli’s fairy-tale season ended with the retirement of long-time head coach Skippy Lopes. Lopes plans to turnover the reigns to junior varsity head coach Keala Watson. The Golden Eagles finished 7-6.
Friday’s upcoming battle with Iolani (8-3) will mark a repeat of the 2007 Division II final which Iolani won 28-21.
“I’m proud of the boys,” said Lahainaluna co-head coach Bobby Watson after Saturday’s victory. “They played hard and they did what we came here to do.”
The Lunas scored a touchdown in every quarter, the two in the second half coming on the defensive side of the ball with Tytus Lucas returning an interception 34 yards at about the 8-minute mark of the third quarter, 21-0.
Then two possessions later, Lahainaluna linebacker Brandon Kaina forced Nanakuli wide receiver Charles Garcia to cough up the ball at about the 2 and the ball rolled into the end zone where Lahainaluna’s Sam Filiai fell on it to cap the scoring with 7 minutes, 32 seconds in the fourth quarter.
Kiko Kohler-Fonohema’s fourth extra-point kick made it 28-0.
Nanakuli’s Chazz Troutman returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards to setup a 1st-and-10 at their own 30-yard line. Troutman threw back-to-back completions of 27 and 23 yards to move the ball to the Lunas’ 20. Before Lucas came up with his second interception in the end zone with 6:26 remaining in the game.
Kohler-Fonohema and sophomore Sione Filikitonga split snaps at quarterback down the stretch as the Lunas’ offense ran out the remainder of the clock.
“We were a little rusty in the beginning, but in the second half we woke up,” said backup quarterback Filikitonga, who made his second varsity start and was named OC16’s Impact Player of the Game. “We thank all our fans for coming out and supporting us.”
Lucas and Semisi Filikitonga (Sione’s older brother) each finished with a team-high five tackles. Defensive end Hercules Mataafa had four tackles, three behind the line of scrimmage for minus 13 yards and one sack for minus 9 yards. Brothers Bronson and Brandon Kaina each finished with four tackles. Brandon had two tackles for minus 11 yards, and Bronson had a fumble recovery, a blocked pass and a sack for minus 3 yards.
“We didn’t see anything different than what we prepared for,” Watson said of Nanakuli. “We needed to take their option game away from them, that was the first thing we needed to do and we did that.”
Watson said Nanakuli came into the game running the ball 70% of the time, and throwing the other 30%.
“Our goal was to turned that around and make them pass 70% of the time.”
The Lunas’ defense held Nanakuli’s ground game to minus 7 yards on 21 rushing attempts. The Golden Eagles threw for 139 yards, 50 coming on their last two completions midway through the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to force them to pass the ball and there were a couple of times we broke down in our coverage. But when we needed to make a play on defense, or when we were in goal line, the boys stepped up and made a play.”
The Lunas really flexed their defensive muscle when it forced Nanakuli to surrender the ball on downs at the Lahainaluna 12-yard line.
A 45-yard pass completion from Troutman to Lansen Liki gave Nanakuli’s its deepest penetration of the night at the Lunas’ 17. Troutman hit Brandon Felisi for 7 yards on the next play, moving the ball to the Lunas’ 10. But a pair of incomplete passes and a rush for minus 2 yards gave Lahainauna the ball back, thwarting the Golden Eagles’ 11-play, 62-yard drive late in the third quarter.
Lahainaluna did get offensive touchdowns from Mark Alamon from 1-yard out with 3:50 to play in the first quarter. The score was set up by Bronson Kaina’s fumble recovery.
Then on the Lunas’ next possession, Sione Filikitonga connected with Scott Isaac-Medeiros Tangatailoa for a 68-yard touchdown pass. The scoring play came on a play-action pass on 2nd-and-19. Isaac-Medeiros Tangatailoa made a great over-the-shoulder catch, capping a six-play, 89-yard drive.
Jared Rocha-Isalas led all Lunas rushers with 76 yards on nine carries. Lucas picked up 101 all-purpose yards, including 64 yards rushing — 43 coming on one carry.
Lahainaluna out gained Nanakuli 290 to 132, rolling up 164 yards rushing and Sione Filikitonga threw for 126 yards on 6 for 10 passing.