Luncheon celebrates championship season for the Luna football team
LAHAINA – Over 300 student-athletes, coaches, staff, family and friends filled the Lahainaluna High School cafeteria on Saturday, Dec. 23, for a celebratory luncheon to honor the Luna football team as the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II State Champions.
The Lunas captured their second consecutive title in a thrilling, seven-overtime 75-69 win over the Konawaena Wildcats at Aloha Stadium on Nov. 24.
After a parade down Front Street with a police and fire truck escort, the Luna players and coaches moved up to the campus cafeteria for the luncheon to honor them.
Lahainaluna golf coach and Kaanapali Golf Courses Professional Suti Nitakorn served as master of ceremonies for the event with Spectrum OC16 broadcaster Felipe Ojastro on hand as the honorary speaker for the luncheon.
Co-head coach Garret Tihada directed the midday event and introduced the players, followed by the coaches and staff giving thanks to their wives and families for the remarkable support of the football program.
Most especially, the 23 seniors on the team were honored for their contributions as the first group to navigate the pathway from the inaugural Big Boys team and through the high school program to the back-to-back state titles.
“Most of this senior group, and many of the juniors on the team, were on that first Big Boys roster. We’ve always wanted to develop a program where the players would be in the (Luna football) system for their sixth and seventh grade years. These last two years have proved that being in a system that long is beneficial to understanding what is expected of you as a student-athlete. We feel that the success of the Big Boys program contributes tremendously to the success of our JV and varsity programs. I have great respect for the players that have been a part of our Big Boys team, because that means they have been in the weight room since they were in the seventh and eighth grade,” explained Coach Garret.
“Coach Watson has always preached to the players that there is just one road to success, and that is hard work. These players have put in the work, and that has paid off,” he concluded.
Co-head coach Bobby Watson commented during the evening that the integrity of Lahainaluna football is directly correlated to the Luna coaches of the past, including Henry “Bruno” Ariyoshi and Bobby Matsumoto – two of the honored guests in attendance.
“Everything we stand for, everything about Luna football, comes from these gentlemen here tonight,” stated Coach Watson.
In a special presentation of the day, two of the student-athletes that Coach Garret referred to as the first group to start with the Big Boys program and then continue on the pathway through Luna football were honored as the recipients of the 2017 Arthur Osamu “Oscar” Chihara Memorial Football Scholarship Award.
Dalton Lins and Bailey Honda, both integral players and captains of the team, were chosen by the coaches as the players that most exemplified the passion and poise that Oscar Chihara displayed in the game in the early 1960s.
The $1,500 scholarships are sponsored by Oscar Chihara’s close friends and business associates, Mike and Jane Heagerty of the Gorst Company of Los Angeles, as well as the Chihara family of Lahaina.
Honda and Lins were presented the scholarship checks, personalized plaques by Maui Marking Device and beautiful, handcrafted lei from Sharon Nohara.
Both young men will continue on to college, with Lins attending Oregon State University and Honda going to Brigham Young University Provo.