The Lahainaluna High School football team faced a challenging and emotional battle on Saturday night. To secure a crucial victory, they relied on the contributions of two remarkable players who have a special connection to the school. Koula Watson, whose family has a rich coaching legacy at Lahainaluna, and Kaulana Thada, the son of a football coach and brother to two state champions, made significant plays that led their team to a spirited 19-13 win against Kamehameha Maui.
Since 2016, Lahainaluna has won 42 straight games in the Maui Interscholastic League, extending their perfect 3-0 record. This triumph continued their dramatic season marred by wildfires. With a 5-1 overall record, Kamehameha Maui presented the Lunas with one of their hardest tests during their amazing winning streak.
Dean Rickard, the assistant head coach for Lahainaluna, acknowledged the toughness of the contest while congratulating Kamehameha’s coaching staff and athletes for their outstanding efforts. The match was attended by a sold-out crowd at War Memorial Stadium, heightening the tension and feelings present.
As the “Impact Player of the Game,” Kaulana Thada expressed his thoughts on the game and emphasized the value of tenacity and staying in the present. He was grateful for the chance to make a game-changing move and attributed his good fortune to his religion.
During the game, Thada faced a challenging moment when he was unable to advance for a first down. However, Lahainaluna’s fortunes changed when Koula Watson made a crucial interception in the end zone. This set the stage for a critical possession where Lahainaluna successfully prevented Kamehameha from gaining any ground. Despite the Warriors’ efforts, including using their remaining timeouts, they fell just short of reaching the goal line on their final drive.
Throughout the game, both sides showed outstanding competence and adapted their strategies. Ulima Afoa, the coach of Kamehameha Maui, praised the players’ efforts while also acknowledging wasted chances that would have changed the outcome in their favor.
Football competition at its finest was on display in this game, with both sides giving it their best and significantly altering their strategies in the second half. In the end, Lahainaluna’s legendary players were instrumental in winning the valiant victory, adding to their illustrious record and creating a long-lasting impression on the sport. Thada’s Valor Helps Lahainaluna Win.
With a great display of skill and grit, Thada took command of the game by carrying the ball 19 times for a record 215 yards in the second half. He significantly impacted the game by scoring his team’s three touchdowns on 23 carries.
Thada expressed his sheer joy and excitement after recovering a fumble, finding it difficult to put into words just how amazing it felt. One of his game-changing moments came early in the second half when he scored his first touchdown. With a remarkable 51-yard run, he tied the score at 7-7, leaving spectators in awe. This impressive drive was made possible by Watson’s 39-yard kickoff return, setting the stage for Thada’s incredible touchdown.
With a 9-yard touchdown throw, the Warriors briefly reclaimed the lead, but Lahainaluna answered right after. Four runs by Thada, including one covering 39 yards, totaled 46 yards and produced the game-tying score. Watson returned the kickoff 40 yards, giving the Lunas a little field to work with.
Lahainaluna used Thada’s 30-yard run to take the lead for the first time in the game and finish off a 67-yard drive. The Lunas were able to hold on defensively despite late deep drives by the Warriors because of significant interceptions by Watson and Thada, who also happen to be neighbors in the Hawaiian Homes community next to the Lahaina Civic Center.
Lahainaluna’s co-head coach, Rickard, acknowledged the difficult task provided by Kamehameha and commended the team’s solid defense for their success. In the second half, the attacking plan changed, going for a simple, conventional strategy that worked well. The offensive line adopted the game plan wholeheartedly, which led to a great outcome.
Lahainaluna’s win extended Kamehameha Maui’s unfortunate streak, as they have now lost to Lahainaluna in their last 14 encounters. The overall record between the two teams stands at 1 win for Kamehameha Maui and 36 wins for Lahainaluna.
It was an emotional moment before the game when seven members of the Kamehameha Maui football team joined the school choir to sing a special song dedicated to the fans of Lahainaluna in the stands. This heartfelt gesture added a touching element to the pregame atmosphere.