Sabers Balance All Phases of Game in 53-0 Rout of Na Alii
By Rodney S. Yap
Boom, boom, boom, boom!
For the second week in a row, Maui High School’s defense did a bang-up job, producing another offensive shutout, while setting the table for a hungry offense and sparking solid special-teams play.
The Sabers scored four times in a span of six minutes, balancing all three phases of the game — offense, defense, and special teams — en route to a dominating 53-0 win over King Kekaulike before an estimated crowd of 2,200 Friday at War Memorial Stadium.
“Feels really good,” said defensive captain Feleti Afemui. “We’ve been working hard and you can feel when the chemistry is flowing. It’s great to be able to take advantage (of your opponents mistakes) when that opportunity comes. It feels like all the hard work is paying off.”
Maui High improved to 2-0 in the Maui Interscholastic League Division I standings. The Sabers play Baldwin next, Saturday, Sept. 3, beginning at 7 p.m.
King Kekaulike fell to 0-2 in the MIL Division II standings. Na Alii celebrate homecoming Friday, Sept. 2, against Lahainaluna (0-1).
Teams have had trouble dealing with the speed the Sabers bring on the defensive side of the ball.
“Our play on defense helps to set the tone and it gives the offense confidence on their next drive. It also shows that we are doing our jobs. It’s all about the start, the first step,” said the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Afemui, who is the MIL’s top college prospect with six Division I offers, including Vanderbilt University.
King Kekaulike fumbled on the first play from scrimmage to help serve up the Sabers’ first offensive touchdown of the 2016 season. Maui quarterback John-Michael Mokiao-Duvauchelle found L.J. Lindsey for a 19-yard touchdown pass on the Sabers’ first offensive play.
About a minute later, Mokiao-Duvauchelle, the senior transfer from Molokai, sneaked into the end zone from 1-yard out following center Kimo Honokaupu.
Maui High’s defense added the first of two safeties four minutes into the game and by the midway point of the first quarter punter Mahonri Anitema, faked the punt on fourth-down just beyond midfield and outran King Kekaulike’s punt-return team.
The Sabers, who scored in every period, led 23-0 after one quarter, 32-0 at halftime, and 46-0 going into the final frame. The team’s defense scored a pair of touchdowns for the second straight game. Maui High’s Brody McCorriston scored the team’s first defensive points by returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
In addition, female place-kicker Kalia Kapisi was perfect on extra-point kicks, converting 7 of 7 attempts. Storm Crozier capped the scoring with 3 minutes, 39 seconds remaining, when he returned a King Kekaulike fumble 17 yards for a touchdown.
Before halftime, the Sabers were already substituting freely, Maui High head coach Keith Shirota replaced starting QB Mokiao-Duvauchelle with junior Kainalu Tancayo.
Before Mokiao-Duvauchelle went to the sidelines, however, he threw a rainbow pass to Lindsey and the 6-foot-1, 224-pound junior caught the ball near the sidelines and alertly ran upfield for a 66-yard touchdown. Back-up quarterback Tancayo operated the team’s read-option and somehow found a seam in King Kekaulike’s defense, stretching a keeper into a 36-yard touchdown scamper with 1:38 to play in the third quarter.
Before Tancayo’s touchdown gave Maui High a commanding 46-0 lead and McCorriston’s pick-six that activated the Mercy Rule and the running clock that comes with it, King Kekaulike was dealt its most devastating setback when all-purpose back Hanalei Akina went down with 9:47 left in the third quarter.
Trainers assisted the 5-foot-8, 210-pound sophomore, putting an air splint on his left leg above the ankle, after he was tackled for a 2-yard loss. Three Saber defenders brought Akina down, the one trailing the play fell on the running back’s leg from the behind.
There was a 20-minute delay in the action to attend to Akina, but there were more than a half-dozen injuries trainers from both schools attended to throughout the evening.
“We are going to continue to try our best to make turnovers and stops and keep teams from scoring,” Afemui added. “It all starts with lane assignment football and executing.”
NOTE: MHS place-kicker Kapisi is a perfect 9-for-9 on point-after kicks this season. However, she is not the MIL’s first kicker. That distinction belongs to former St. Anthony soccer player Stacey Yamamoto, who originally was added to the Trojans roster in 1997 to help fulfill the required number of players. In 1998 she earned the starting job as the team’s extra-point kicker and recorded the first points ever scored by a female in an MIL football game. Charlie Ane was the Trojans head coach at the time and former Kamehameha School Maui coach Kevin O’Brien was the team’s offensive coordinator. Yamamoto wore jersey No. 1 and classmate Shane Victorino wore jersey No. 2, he was the team’s field-goal kicker . . . The Sabers had two other female varsity players before Kapisi, both were wide receivers under then head coach Curtis Lee. The first was Nicole Angel in the early 2000s and then Rayna Golino.
SABERS 53, NA ALII 0
At War Memorial Stadium
Friday’s Scoring Summary
King Kekaulike 0 0 0 0—0
Maui High 23 9 14 7—53
MH—L.J. Lindsey 19 pass from John-Michael Mokiao-Duvauchelle (Kalia Kapisi kick), 11:44.
MH—Mokiao-Duvauchelle 1 run (Kapisi kick), 10:30.
MH—Safety, Earl Naki-Vea tackled in end zone, 7:53.
MH—Mahonri Anitema 49 run (Kapisi kick), 6:30.
MH—Lindsey 66 pass from Mokiao-Duvauchelle (Kapisi kick), 7:05.
MH—Safety, Cameron Russell tackled in end zone, 6:50.
MH—Brody McCorriston 25 interception return (Kapisi kick), 7:42.
MH—Kainalu Tancayo 36 run (Kapisi kick), 1:38.
MH—Storm Crozier 17 fumble return (Kapisi kick), 3:39.
NOTE: All individual and team statistics were complied by Rob Collias of The Maui News.