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Seniors inspire younger players on the Luna football team

By Staff | Nov 13, 2014

Seniors on the football team include (from left): front — Christian Pascua, Ken Brito, Thomas Rosen St. John, Brandon Kaina, Connor Mowat, Penisimani Taufa, Danny Sulunga Kahaialii, Justin Hong, Isaiah Biga Rogers, Sione Filikitonga and Kealii Frias; back row — Josten Saribay, Anferny Farata, Tyran Palea, Scott Medeiros Tangatailoa, Jared Rocha Islas, Ryan Delatori, Shaun Lopez Naea, Ansen Cabanilla and Lance Ito.

LAHAINA – The long and storied history of Lahainaluna High School football will remember with deeply mixed emotions the senior members of the 2014 Maui Interscholastic League Division II champions.

The 24 strong that made up more than half of the Luna roster this season – including four-year players Connor Mowat, Scotty Medeiros Tangatailoa, Jared Rocha Islas and Justin Hong – have led the program to an undefeated record, a tenth straight MIL title and a number one state rating. These seniors will also lead the Lunas into the state playoffs this weekend.

But how sad it is to think of the future of Lahainaluna football, particularly with the new Sue D. Cooley Stadium nearing completion and set to kick off the 2015 season, without number 54, 25, 23, 75 and the rest of the current seniors in the lineup?

Perhaps Co-Head Coach Garret Tihada said it best: “These guys are the heart of the team, and their biggest contribution to the program is the precedent they have set to a dedicated commitment to off-season training. They have consistently worked very hard in the weight room, and that example has inspired the newer players to do the same. Our freshmen group this year has really been influenced in a positive way and are eager to keep it going. They will be a force and the future for the program.”

Along with Mowat, Medeiros Tangatailoa, Rocha Islas and Hong, the senior group included three-year players Brandon Kaina, Sione Filikitonga, Danny Sulunga Kahaialii and Tyran Palea; as well as two-year contributors Penisimani Taufa, Ryan Delatori, Isaiah Biga Rogers, Christian Pascua, Shaun Lopez Naea, Ansen Cabanilla, Mark Cabida, Keanu Chang, Kealii Frias, Jayven Paleka Wright, Lance Ito and Anferny Farata. Rounding out the senior class were Ken Brito, Josten Saribay, Austin Wagner and Thomas Rosen St. John.

Coach Garret noted also that the Lahaina Big Boy football program set a precedent for Luna success in the future with an outstanding inaugural season last spring.

“That group will definitely help us in the future, and the example set by these seniors of working hard for four years every off-season will really make a difference in whether we win or lose. We thank the seniors for the time, effort, leadership and dedication they have given to the team.”

For the upcoming playoffs, Tihada noted that the Lunas are healthy, but a little antsy to get going after the three-week layoff.

“We’ve been going back to basics, smoothing things out and addressing deficiencies. We’ll have our whole offensive package ready to go and, as always, Coach (Bobby) Watson has been breaking down film to get our defense ready. We will force our opponents out of their number one play and force them to do things they don’t like to do,” he explained.

As the top-rated D-II team, Lahainaluna received a quarterfinal bye and will meet the winner of the Nanakuli (OIA champion) and Kamehameha Big Island (BIF champion) match-up last weekend at War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m. in the semifinals. Be there! Go Lunas! Imua!