LAHAINA — The 2022 season for the Lahainaluna High School football team came to a stunning conclusion two weeks ago at Sue D. Cooley Stadium on the West Side campus.
The Aiea Na Alii, the Division I Oahu Interscholastic Association runners-up, defeated the Lunas 30-10 in a first-round playoff game between First Hawaiian Bank and the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.
The 9-3 Aiea team led from start to finish, dominating the 9-1, third-placed Lunas in front of a sold-out home crowd on Veterans Day.
The result never seemed in doubt as the Aiea team showed precision and speed to overwhelm the Lahainaluna team. OIA runner-up Na Alii used precision passing and a smothering defense to establish a double-digit lead throughout the competition.
Lunas’ assistant head coach Dean Rickard said in retrospect: “Aiea was by far the better team. Her physicality, speed and strength proved to be advantageous to her. They were well trained, efficient and fundamentally more solid than any other team we faced this year.”
“Defensively, they paralyzed our running game, and offensively, they used their athleticism, speed and size to move the ball effectively. But our children never gave up and played their hearts out to the end, we didn’t want or expect anything more from them.”
Lahainaluna football will say aloha to 14 seniors who played their last game in red and white. Coach Rickard greeted them with the words: “We say goodbye to the seniors and add that we are very proud of their achievements this season. We wish them all the best in the future and thank them – and all student-athletes – for everything they have done for Lahainaluna football.”
The 14 seniors who played their last game include Lance Morikawa, Jeremy Kahane Lived, Ian Jay Cabanilla, Kade Cunningham, Aukai Hokoana, Keawe Kane Keahi, David Hong, Solomon Kana’au Castro, Josese Anu Kaina, Jayson Akahi Vida, Emmanuel Manny Latu, Jay Pua, Makoa Tama Palau Agdeppa and John Kaililaau Balisco.
“These seniors have always managed the team well and understood the program philosophy. They are always a valuable asset as they lead by example on the field and in the weight room over the years with their strong work ethic. You set a great example for the rest of the team.”
Looking to the future, Coach Dean added: “At the same time we have already begun to look forward to the 2023 season in hopes of doing so with the 27 juniors and ten sophomores returning along with a group of students, to build a strong foundation -athletes who were also raised at the end of the JV season.
“Loss certainly provides learning opportunities for our underclassmen, but the core message is simple: to remain competitive at this level, we need to take our time in the off-season and give ourselves time to get back to the grind and prepare for the 2023 season. All we ask is that they stand up and stand up for it.” he continued.
“Most importantly, we say salute to the West Side community Mahalo for their continued support over the years. Imua Lunas!”