Lunas to battle Konawaena Wildcats in state Division II title game
LAHAINA – After defeating the Iolani Raiders 35-27 in the semifinals of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II Football playoffs a week-and-a-half ago, the top-seeded and number one ranked Lahainaluna Lunas (10-1) are itching to get back at it as they prepare for the title game this Saturday afternoon versus the Konawaena Wildcats (9-2).
With the revised format for the playoffs that includes Open, Division I and Division II brackets, there are still qualifying games to be played in the Open and D-I tournaments. The D-II title game is set, however, and it will be familiar foes for the championship match-up that kicks off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Aloha Stadium.
Konawaena and Lahainaluna met last season in the D-II semifinals at the top-seeded Wildcats’ home field on the Big Island. The Lunas came out on top in that one by a score of 28-14 and then went on to win the state championship over Kapaa the following week.
It’s a new year, and both teams are refined and revved up for the rematch this Saturday.
“We’re a little restless, as these two-week breaks are hard to handle at times, but practice is coming along okay. No new injuries to speak of,” said Luna co-head coach and offensive coordinator Garret Tihada last week from Sue D. Cooley Stadium.
As for the Wildcats, Coach Tihada reports that they are a more balanced offensive team than Iolani, but still the Lunas will have to contend with an all-state, skilled quarterback and a very physical defense in Konawaena.
“This team was unbeaten in the BIIF (Big Island Interscholastic Federation), and their quarterback is very similar to the Iolani and Baldwin quarterbacks we faced this season,” he said.
The Lunas will rely on their stout 3-4 defense against the Wildcats and hopefully be able to control the ball with their ground game on offense.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t do that in the second half against Iolani, and that let them back into the game,” explained Coach Tihada. “Hopefully, we will be able to loosen it up a little with more passing (Lahainaluna threw one pass versus Iolani that fell incomplete), and we are working on this in practice. Bottom line, though, we are a running team.”
The Lahainaluna team will leave for Honolulu on Friday afternoon to settle in and prepare for the 2 p.m. kickoff for the championship game at Halawa. Tentative plans are for the Lahaina community to line Lahainaluna Road on Friday afternoon in a send-off celebration similar to last year’s spirited turnout that helped spur the team to that title win. Be there! Imua Lahainaluna!