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Seniors provide strong leadership for the Luna football team

By Staff | Nov 17, 2016

Seniors on the Lahainaluna High School football team include (from left): front — Radon Sinenci, Justice Tihada, Dayton Felicilda, Shiloh Lopez, David Kawabata, Hoaka Phillips and Fredmariel Guerrero; back row — Donovan Defang, Shawn Rabino, Kaoniakala Hamakua, Unaloto Pahulu, Matini Perlas Kaai, Mosese Felemi, Josiah Sombelon McEwen and Enele Scanlan.

LAHAINA – The Lahainaluna High School football team captured a tenth consecutive Maui Interscholastic League Division II championship and advanced to the state semifinal playoffs for the ninth time in that span, and co-head coach Garret Tihada didn’t hesitate to credit the leadership influence of this year’s seniors for the success of the program.

“The biggest thing about this group of seniors is their leadership by example,” he said last week, as the third- seeded Lunas prepared for their First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships semifinal match-up on the Big Island versus the number two seed Konawaena Wildcats last Saturday night.

“They gave us leadership in the offseason in the weight room, during the season, and gave the younger kids an example of hard work to follow.”

“These seniors gave us just the right amount of vocal leadership to keep the team on the right track – it has been a nice mix of younger and older players,” Coach Garret continued to say.

“We send our sincere thanks to this group as they all played huge roles for us. They will be missed.”

For the fourth time in the last ten years, the Lahainaluna High School football team will travel to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu to compete in the First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships Division II final. The third-seeded Lunas defeated Konawaena — the number two seed — at the Wildcats’ field on campus last Saturday night by a score of 28-14 to secure a rematch with last season’s D-II runner-up, the Kapaa Warriors of the Kauai Interscholastic League. Lahainaluna broke open a 7-7 halftime tie with two quick touchdowns to start the third quarter, and added another TD in the fourth, while their stalwart defense shut down the Konawaena offense to secure the win. This Friday night’s championship game, with kick-off set for 4:30 p.m., will be a rematch of a preseason match-up that saw Kapaa score three defensive touchdowns in a 21-0 victory over the Lunas at Sue D. Cooley Stadium on the Lahainaluna campus. Imua Lahainaluna! PHOTO BY GLEN PASCUAL.

Perhaps the biggest contribution to the Lunas’ success this season in regard to leadership goes to the four- and three-year veterans of the program, which included Enele Scanlan, Donovan Defang and David Kawabata for four campaigns, and to Justice Tihada, Josiah Sombelon McEwen, Radon Sinenci, Matini Perlas Kaai and Shawn Rabino for three seasons.

Graduating two-year contributors include Unaloto Pahulu, Dayton Felicilda, Kaoniakala Hamakua, Mosese Felemi and Hoaka Phillips, and the first-year varsity seniors are Shiloh Lopez and Fredmariel Guerrero.

In conclusion, Coach Tihada repeated his deep appreciation of the seniors’ contributions to the Lunas’ success throughout their high school football careers.

“It is just so important to get this leadership throughout the year from the experienced student athletes on the team. We can’t thank them enough, and we wish them well in the future,” he said.

Coach Garret also sent his gratitude out to the West Side community for their continuing support of the program, as well as specifically to the Friends of Lahainaluna Football, Leilani’s on the Beach, Sansei, and RVN for their contributions to the successful season.

And so the tradition continues for Lahainaluna football as a definitive statement of the integrity of the program – of the process that pays forward the quality of life we are so blessed to enjoy here on Maui. Imua Lunas!