Luna football will rise again
“There’s no joy in Mudville,” was the glum greeting a friend shared with me 36 hours after the stunning 20-9 defeat of the Lunas by Kaiser in the Division II state semifinal playoffs at War Memorial Stadium.
Indeed, some 7,000 Lahainaluna fans were shocked – and will remain in that condition in the days ahead – as the big, tough Cougars from the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s White Division wore down the hometown team in the biggest game of the year here on Maui.
After coming up 80 seconds short of the first state football championship in the long and storied history of the school last year, Lahainaluna’s hopes for a title shot and an undefeated 2013 season came to a screeching halt in the full moon brightness at War Memorial two Saturdays past.
In a physical contest that clearly crossed the line, the Lunas eventually succumbed to the relentless assault dealt to them by the Honolulu program.
The overzealous Kaiser team was assessed 15 penalties for 163 yards, including helmet-to-helmet, late hit out of bounds and face mask personal foul infractions that sent two players to the hospital – one with a head and neck injury, and the other with a severely injured knee – as well as three other key players on the sidelines, two of them only able to stand with the aid of crutches and the other suffering from a neck strain.
This is no excuse – it is a statement of fact. It is the way of high school football under the Honolulu city lights.
The Kaiser team – using recruited top athletes from Maui, Kona and all points north – big, fast and deep, was, in the end, superior to the homegrown Lahainaluna roster.
The Cougars were also amped up and arrogant. In some circles, this is the norm, but this style of play is in stark contrast to Luna football.
Lahainaluna has earned a reputation throughout the state as a program that emphasizes discipline, sportsmanship and a one team ethic. Individuality and unsportsmanlike conduct are unacceptable.
This athletic integrity has been perpetuated for decades and has served to bond the community for generations. It is a valuable contribution to the quality and strength of character of the Lahainaluna family.
We are sincerely grateful to the coaches, players, families and supporters of the program.
This time, the defeat is more than a stinger – it is a deep tissue bruise that will take quite awhile to heal. In due time, Lahainaluna football will stand again; the next generation will carry the torch forward. The tradition continues, “Defend the L!”