LAHAINA - "We came a lot farther than we ever expected," said Lahainaluna High School football head coach Bobby Watson, following his team's 19-14 loss to Waipahu in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II semifinal game at the Marauders' campus field last Friday night.
"So we feel that we've had a successful season in that respect, and I'm happy for our team. I only regret that this was the end of the line for the seniors and that we didn't make it back here (to Oahu) for the finals."
The Lunas, who finished 7-5 for the season, took a 14-13 lead into half-time. Their offense seemed to finally have found itself with two scoring drives and the crucial conversions following the touchdowns.
Coach Bobby Watson addresses the Lahainaluna High School football team after Friday night’s game. Full of young players, the Lunas reached the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II semifinal before losing to the Waipahu Marauders on their home field. Photo by Denton Johnson.
And, as has been the case throughout the season, the defense kept Lahainaluna in the game to the final gun.
After Waipahu scored in the third quarter and took the lead, the Lunas fought back with several drives into Marauders' territory but came up short.
To the final whistle, Lahainaluna still had a chance to pull out a victory, but it just wasn't meant to be.
The Luna football program now bids aloha to 11 seniors - John Mishima, Kaena Felicilda, JR Kenolio-Dusenberry, BJ Pagdilao-Bala, Mark Ventura, Jarin Pasco-Cabanilla, Chanse Uyeda, Daniel Recaido, Feleti Taufa, Jesse Watson and Osaiasi Tautuiaki.
Optimism abounds at Lahainaluna, however, as this was one of the youngest varsity football teams ever at the historic West Side school.
Six freshmen and several sophomores started for the Lunas, and a solid core of juniors this year will be counted on to lead the team in 2012.
In his final address to the team on the field last Friday night, Coach Watson said, "Now it's up to all of you returnees to hit the weight room in the off-season.
"If you want to get back here again next season, that's what you have to do. It's up to you."