Sabers to Play on Oahu, Lunas to Host Semifinal
By Rodney S. Yap
The Maui High School football team will have to travel to Aloha Stadium and top-seeded Lahainaluna will host, but not at its new stadium on campus.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association released the brackets for the First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships on Saturday and the Maui Interscholastic League Division I champion Sabers will meet the winner of tonight’s Oahu Interscholastic Association’s third-place game between Farrington (7-2) and Campbell (7-3) on Friday, Nov. 7.
The first-round game will be at 4:30 p.m. as part of a doubleheader at Aloha Stadium. Kahuku (8-2) will face Hilo (10-0) in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be televised live on OC16 Sports.
MIL Division II champion Lahainaluna received the No. 1 seed as expected, but will play its semifinal game at 6 p.m. on Nov. 15 at War Memorial Stadium against Kamehameha Hawaii (7-2) or Nanakuli (10-0). That first-round game on Nov. 8 between KS-Hawaii and Nanakuli will be played on the Big Island.
“Whoever we play we are very excited about the opportunity and to get the chance to travel to Aloha Stadium and play there is just a great opportunity for our team,” said Maui High head coach David Bui from Honolulu on Saturday. “It would have been nice to host and we would like to play in front of our home crowd but this is our first time and we are not going to grumble about anything we’re just going to enjoy the journey.”
The Sabers (7-2) are in the tournament for the first time since 2000 and Bui is on Oahu to scout tonight’s contest between Campbell and Farrington, which can be seen live on OC16 Sports at 6 p.m.
“We know a little about each team. We are going to do some scouting tonight. I can’t really say what the preference is, but either one, our boys are going to be up to the challenge and they are not going to back down from anybody — these guys will swing with anybody.”
The winner of Friday’s game with Maui High will face second-seeded Mililani on Nov. 15. Division I defending champion Punahou (7-0) is the No. 1 seed, earning a bye to a semifinal game against Kahuku or Hilo.
The unbeaten and top-ranked Lunas (9-0) are playing in the Division II state tournament for the eighth straight year, finishing runner-up to Iolani in 2012 and 2007. The Red Raiders (6-3) received the No. 2 seed and will play the first-round winner of Kapaa (6-1) and Pearl City (8-2).
News of Lahainaluna’s fate to play in Wailuku rather than debut the school’s new Sue D. Cooley Stadium came with disappointment Saturday morning as the team was hard at work.
“We planned this day — clean-up stadium day — in hopes that we would get the game,” said Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada, who anticipates a pep rally and blessing in the coming weeks to honor Sue D. Cooley, the part-time Maui resident and primary contributor to the $9 million stadium project.
Although the Lunas trounced Nanakuli, 28-0, in the 2012 semifinals, Tihada said this year’s version of the Golden Hawks is a “totally different” team, “much faster.”
Tihada flew to Honolulu on Friday to watch Nanakuli defeat Peal City, 37-36. “The looked pretty good,” he said.
As for Kamehameha Hawaii, Tihada said: “We know nothing about them.”
Tihada said every postseason break is different because every team that has to deal with the bye weeks is different.
“With this bye we are holding regular practices and our normal routine as if we have a game. Every year we try different things, and we’re noticing that with this team they are responding best to hard work.”