WAILUKU – On a rainy night in Wailuku, the Maui High School football team recalled the legendary ground and book teams of the Curtis Lee-era Sabers by inflicting a 24-0 loss to King Kekaulike, until then unbeaten.
Somewhere, Lee must have smiled as the Sabers used their dominant offensive line to rush for 270 yards and their impressive defense posted its third shutout in four games this season Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.
The Maui High blueprint is eerily similar to the one King Kekaulike used to score wins in his first two MIL matches.
Both teams are now 2-1 in the Maui Interscholastic League. The Sabers stayed alive for the Division I First Round crown and Na Alii was denied a decisive opportunity for the D-II First Round title.
Maui High head coach Aylett Wallwork played for Lee when Wallwork was a Saber.
“I hope so,” Wallwork said when asked if the result would have made Lee smile. “We played like we said – iso right, iso left. We did pretty well. When we started getting cute, that’s when we kind of paid for it.
The Sabers took the lead 14-0 after a stoppage on defensive tries, then two methodical drives.
King Kekaulike took the opening possession for 36 yards on 11 plays before giving up the ball on tries at the Sabers 23-yard line. Na Alii held the ball for 6 minutes and 31 seconds on possession.
The Sabers rushed for 77 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard run from Piercen Evans with 3:23 left in the first quarter. The big play on the disc was a 49-yard strike from Joe Cariaga to Keoni James Ihu-Rodrigues that brought the ball to the Na Alii 5-yard line – Evans scored on the next play after a penalty.
After forcing a three-year possession and a short punt, the Sabers turned to Evans again on a lightning-fast 44-yard drive. He carried all three plays and scored on a slippery 28-yard run with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
Evans finished with a robust 139 yards on 19 carries.
The mighty Sabers defense forced and recovered fumbles on each of the next two series and tacked on a 22-yard field goal from Sevy Sconfienza with 1:45 remaining at halftime.
After Nathaniel Russell intercepted a pass from Kalelepono Wong and returned it 18 yards to Na Alii’s 27, the Sabers appeared to score on the first play from scrimmage, a pass from Tarasenko to Cariaga, but the play was called up holding and time is up. .
Ihu-Rodrigues returned the second-half kickoff 91 yards out for an apparent touchdown, but the Sabers were called for a personal foul on the play and started the drive on the King Kekaulike 43.
On third of 45, Cariaga fumbled on a run and scored to push the lead to 24-0 with 9:54 left in the third quarter.
The Sabers kept the shutout from there, stopping Na Alii on tries at Maui High 9 after an 81-yard drive late in the third quarter. With just over 4 minutes to play, Ofa Falekaono tipped a pass and Russell intercepted the ball deep into Maui High territory.
One area the Sabers will look to improve is on penalties — they’ve been flagged eight times for 99 yards.
“Less than last week, but we still have to clean everything up”, Wallwork says. “I mean defensive penalties are inexcusable. We had a late hit out of bounds, we had a late hit on the quarterback. We had about five farms. We need to clean this up if we want to improve.
“We want to get to the point where our whole team clicks, not just our defence.”
Na Alii, who was playing his first game away from King Kekaulike Stadium this season, just couldn’t break through against the solid Sabers defence.
“I’m very impressed with Maui High’s defense,” King Kekaulike trainer Tyson Valle said. “They really play a disciplined defence, they attack the ball. Definitely someone who can actually play on that side – I’m very impressed with the way they played tonight.
*Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
King Kekaulike 0 0 0 0– 0
Maui High 14 3 7 0–24
MH–Piercen Evans 10 run (Sevy Sconfienza shot), 3:23.
MH – Evans 28 run (Sconfienza kick), 0:33.
MH–FG Sconfienza 22, 1:45.
MH – Joe Cariaga 45 run (Sconfienza kick), 9:54.
Junior University – Maui High 44, King Kekaulike 13.
DIVISION I CLASSIFICATION
WL Pct PF PA
Lahainaluna 1 0 1,000 17 10
Maui High 2 1 .667 78 17
Baudouin 0 2,000 6 71
SECTION II CLASSIFICATION
WL Pct PF PA
King Kekaulike 2 1 .667 51 46
KS Maui 0 1,000 16 24
Maui High 24, King Kekaulike 0
Lahainaluna at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.
Friday, September 9
Maui High vs. Kamehameha Maui at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday September 10
Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.