KAPAA — Kapaa High School’s varsity football team defeated Lahainaluna of the Maui Interscholastic League, 14-10, in Saturday’s preseason game.
The Warriors combined for 230 yards rushing en route to beating the Lunas at the Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapaa.
“What a battle. We knew they were coming to play,” said Warriors head coach Philip Rapozo. “We’re happy to get the win, but it could have been anybody’s game.”
Warriors senior running back Kekoa Kaluahine-Cacal had 23 carries for 98 yards.
“We do a lot of film and a lot of studying, a lot of homework. That really prepares us,” Kaluahine-Cacal said about the team’s effectiveness running the ball. “They (Lahainaluna) usually comes out with a three-front. So, we were pretty much attacking inside. If they switched to a four-front, we switched it up from there.”
Kaluahine-Cacal also got the go-ahead score for Kapaa with a 1-yard run with just more than one minute left in the third quarter.
“It was pretty much a quick dive. Just pretty much everyone was going at it,” he said about that score.
The Warriors (2-0) struck first in the opening quarter with a 31-yard pass from junior quarterback Kurt Napoleon to junior receiver Gabe Keener. After that first score, Lahainaluna (1-1) responded immediately. Lunas junior running back Radon Sinenci returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards to pay dirt to even the score, 7-7.
In the second quarter, Lunas sophomore kicker Haaheo Au converted a 27-yard field goal to give the Lunas a 10-7 lead.
“We just got outplayed and out-coached. Kapaa’s a very good team,” said Lunas co-head coach Garret Tihada. “Everybody knew, from what they had last year and what they did against Nanakuli this year, they’re a very impressive team.”
In Lahainaluna’s final possession, the team found itself on 4th and 15 after being penalized for a false start and three incompletions.
Lunas freshman quarterback Etuati Storer scrambled and took off for a 15-yard gain, but was inches short of getting a first down to extend the drive.
After turning the ball over on downs, Kapaa kneeled the ball until time expired.
“Yeah, it happens. But it’s nothing to hang (ourselves) about,” Tihada said of that last play. “No game really comes down to one play. It’s a culmination of things. It just happens that certain plays stick out.”
Storer was 8-21 passing for 142 yards and had one interception. Junior defensive back Donovan Defang had 5 1/2 total tackles and a fumble recovery for the Lunas.
The Lunas to take on Kamehameha Schools–Maui at home Saturday in its MIL regular season opener.
“The thing that sticks out most: we are very, very young and very inexperienced,” Tihada said. “Every game and every practice, we just got to look at getting better. We’d like to have all these goals about winning the MIL and getting to states. That’s not going to happen unless we get better every day.”
Napoleon was 6-11 passing for 58 yards and a touchdown for Kapaa. Junior linebacker Jason Hawthorne recorded four tackles.
With wins against Lahainaluna and Nanakuli of the Oahu Interscholastic Federation this preseason, Kapaa may have established itself as a top contender in Division II. But Rapozo is still keeping things in perspective because the regular season is still ahead.
“I don’t know if I would go that far right now,” he said. “It’s preseason. It’s a big win for us. It will help us get through our KIF season. If we’re fortunate to win that, it will give us, I think, a good place to be in the playoffs.”
Kapaa will play next on Aug. 28 against Kauai in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation regular season opener at Vidinha Stadium.