Lahainaluna varsity football team prepping for state playoffs
LAHAINA — After going toe-to-toe with Baldwin High School — the state’s fourth-rated team — for three-and-a-half quarters before falling by a score of 14-0 in their final Maui Interscholastic League regular season contest, the Lahainaluna High School varsity football team now shifts its focus to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) playoffs that begin this Friday night, Nov. 12, at various locations across the state.
The Lunas ended their 2010 campaign at 6-2 (7-2 overall) and, as the MIL’s Division II champion, will represent the Valley Isle in the state playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Lahainaluna is seeded second — Iolani is number one — in the HHSAA six-team format and earned a quarterfinal round bye.
On Friday, Nov. 19, at War Memorial Stadium here on Maui, the Lunas will face the winner of the Kaimuki or Kalaheo versus Kamehameha Hawaii quarterfinal match-up that takes place on the Big Island on Nov. 12.
This will be the last hurrah for 22 Luna seniors on the roster, and particularly meaningful for 7 three-year lettermen on the squad.
Teanu Rickard, Chase Rogers, Josten Carbajal, Mitchell Loewen, TJ Rickard, Jojo Hidalgo, Micah Arcangel and Sousiua Ika will lead the Lahainaluna red tide onto the field for the last time in their playoff quest.
They will be joined by classmates Mark Beard, Malachi Olevao, Nate Pallett, Jarren Cabajar, Amanaki Vakalahi, Loupua Hafoka, David Arcangel, Taylor Schneider, Isaiah Hufalar, Vyno Omiat, Hoku Arriaga, Ralph Sumida, Shawn Alexander and Noe Ortiz in suiting up in the LHS red uniforms for the last time.
And for most, this will be the last time they play organized football.
Lahainaluna co-head coach Bobby Watson, the dean of MIL mentors, praised the seniors for their effort over the past year.
“This senior group really worked hard over the summer in the weight room, and the leaders began their effort as far back as January. They really carried the team to the success we had this season,” he said.
Co-head coach Garret Tihada concurred in saying, “This year the seniors really took that extra step to do some unusual things — like coming in for 5:30 a.m. workouts — to show the commitment we were asking for. They became good leaders to take us where we are now.”
Coach Watson had particular praise for three of the team captains.
“Teanu, Josten and Chase really set the bar for us this year. They didn’t just show up in the weight room over the summer — they worked really hard in there, and their effort showed up for us on the field this season. They were our two-way, 48-minute players — the ones that play every down of every game for us. I am proud of them and want to recognize them for that. They stood out above all the others,” he commented.
“We will miss this whole group of seniors for sure — there will be many shoes to fill next year. Hopefully, some of them will come back to give back to the community. It would be nice to see them come back and take the younger ones under their wing. And if we can help them in any way in the future, please come and see us.”
For now, the Lunas have a three-week layoff before their Nov. 19 playoff date. They should be in better shape than they have been all season long, as several players heal up and return to action from injuries.
“We’ll get back to fundamentals like getting off the ball, staying low in tackling and blocking, things like that. We have work to do with our line play, and much to correct before the playoffs. We expect that all of the teams in the playoffs will be of the same caliber as Baldwin, so it was good for us to play them going into the post-season. If we can make the needed corrections and stay healthy, we’ll be okay,” concluded Coach Watson.