Luna seniors to begin final run in football playoffs
LAHAINA – The high school football experience is a right of passage that leaves a unique and lifelong impression on the student athletes that play the game. At Lahainaluna High School, the influence the program – viewed by coaches and administrators across the state as a leader in such vital aspects as discipline and teamwork – has on the boys and a girl or two is even more pronounced.
The Lunas are headed toward their 11th consecutive Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II Football playoff appearance after winning the title last year. Lahainaluna will face a familiar nemesis in the Iolani Raiders, who have twice bounced the Lunas out of playoffs and once in the title game in 2008.
But this is a new year and a much different Luna team than in the previous matchups, and Iolani is not the team it was in years gone by.
Coming into the Nov. 3 matchup at War Memorial Stadium, the Raiders have a 3-4 record while Lahainaluna is 9-1 – the only loss coming to Kamehameha Kapalama, a highly rated team in the Open Division of the HHSAA.
Lahainaluna is the top rated D-II team and seeded number one for the playoffs.
These crucial contests are thus the final stretch run for 23 Luna seniors, nine of whom have contributed to the varsity success for three consecutive years. Bailey “Good Times” Honda, Mystic Kauhaahaa, Siale Hafoka, Laakea “Braddah” Shim, Haaheo Au, Elijah “Jet” Ragudo, Elijah Moritz, Dalton Lins and John Caguioa all toiled for the team over the last three seasons after helping the junior varsity team to a MIL title in their freshmen season.
Two-year varsity players include Dean Aki-Boy Miyamoto, Kiliona Keohuloa, Kainoa Chung, Nathaniel Somera, Aliksa “Jun Jun” Pihda, Leoligildo “Leo” Amby, Kahiau Yap, Sione Faleta, George Bogac and Braedon Estores-Castillo. First year contributors are Ezekiel Villiarimo, Christopher Wintermeyer, Koa Evalu-Robinson and Dylan Smith.
Senior team managers include six-year veteran Kela Kauhaahaa and two-year contributor Kayla Marie Delos Santos, and two-year student athletic trainers Leah Werblum and Kaitlin Hodgins.
Co-head Coach Garret Tihada was quick to note that the three-year players are the first group that started out in the inaugural Big Boy spring football program five years ago.
“This was the first group to come through that program,” Coach Garret explained from the Sue D. Cooley Stadium entry building last week, as the team prepared for this Friday’s playoff opener. “We’ve had these boys for five long years now, and that means they’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room – put in a lot of work to get us where we are now. “
“We coaches thank all of the seniors for the time, work and effort they’ve all put in to building this program. Most of all, we say thank you for being good people on the field, in the classroom and in the community. You all stand out as a nice bunch of kids that represented Lahainaluna in a positive way, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors,” Tihada concluded.
Indeed, the Lahaina community concurs in thanking the senior group for maintaining the sterling tradition of Lahainaluna football. These 23 seniors exemplify the selfless work ethic that fosters the priceless spirit that fuels not only the school but our entire community. We cannot thank you enough. Aloha to you all. Imua Lunas!