Lahainaluna football team plans to air it out more this season
LAHAINA – The Lahainaluna High School football program continues to grow as a model of integrity and efficiency going into the 2018 season. The two-time defending Division II state champion Lunas, now also holding a Maui Interscholastic League run of 12 consecutive titles, kicked off their season last week tuned up and firing on all cylinders.
Led by a veteran coaching staff guided by co-head coaches Bobby Watson and Garret Tihada, the Lunas return 11 starters – five on defense and six on offense – among the 55-player roster, according to Coach Garret.
There are 25 returning lettermen from the 2017 team that have come out this season and also a large group of new student-athletes to the program.
“We had a very productive offseason with our returning players,” said Coach Tihada from the sidelines at Sue D. Cooley Stadium last week.
“And also a lot of new players came out, so we’ll see plenty of competition at many positions this season.”
The Lunas will run their traditional multiple set offense, leaning heavily on the run game, with the hope to increase the passing percentage of the attack to a 30-35 percent ratio.
“We do hope to throw the ball more this year, and we have the experience and ability to do it. We’ll see how it turns out,” said Tihada, who is the offensive coordinator.
On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Coach Watson will employ a 3-3-5 scheme that will rely heavily on an experienced line and backs.
The LHS defense has led the MIL in overall efficiency throughout the title run over the last decade.
Special teams are a combined coaching effort, and the place kicking, punting and kick coverage units look to be polished and poised for another championship run.
Joining Watson and Tihada on the veteran Lahainaluna staff, which boasts over 200 years of combined experience, are Mike Arakawa, Dean Rickard, Kekoa Mowat, Joey Tihada, Randy Arakawa, Clifford Corniel, Kenui Watson, Craig Wise, Dal Magno, Sonnie Waiohu and Chase Rogers.
The Lunas rang up an 11-1 record last year on their way to the thrilling seven-overtime state championship victory over Konawaena of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation (BIIF) by a score of 77-69. They look to be focused and locked in to do it again.
Coach Garret had high praise for the Lahaina community in their support of the school and its athletic programs.
“It’s really remarkable to think of the tremendous support the football program gets from the community. Particularly the Friends of Lahainaluna Football, businesses like Kaanapali Golf, Don Quixote, and so many others, as well as individuals opening their wallets to support the team. It’s really amazing, and we really appreciate it.”