CLOSING THE BOOK: Moanalua Na Menehune

Moanalua’s Rudy Kealohi celebrated a touchdown with teammates Javon Monico (21) and Jacob Richmond against Waipahu. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

What was shaping up to be the greatest season ever for Moanalua Na Menehune came to a crashing halt against Castle on Saturday night, but the performances will make sure this team is remembered for a long time.

Na Menehune went undefeated through the regular season and finished with eight wins, more than any since Arnold Martinez took the squad to a 10-2 season in 2009 in Division II.

The team was dramatically improved on both sides of the ball, averaging 34.2 points per game and allowing only 14.6. Last year, in Savaii Eselu‘s second season at the helm, Na Menehune limped to 13.6 ppg and 35.9 papg. Their 19.6 average margin of victory make this the best Moanalua team in school history. The previous high was 11.1 by the 2009 Martinez team.

The defense held opponents to their lowest average since the dark ages of 1988 when Donald Ng‘s defenses held opponents to 13 points per game in a league where games averaged 30 points per game. That number passed 50 five years ago and has not dropped below it.



The legend of Nick Au grew as the season went on but came crashing down on the rail around Castle’s track. Au finished the season with 2,502 yards and 29 touchdowns and was expected to build on those numbers in a deep run through the OIA playoffs and states. Considering Au averaged 292.5 passing yards per game before the Castle upset, he was two or three games away from joining the nine other quarterbacks in Hawaii prep history to exceed 3,000 yards in a season. Au’s best game came in the last regular season tilt against Nanakuli, when he went 13-for-18 for 385 yards and seven touchdowns before calling it a night. That was the seventh-best yardage game in school history and he also had No. 8 with 375 yards in a win over Castle to open the season.


Na Menehune had no use for the running game during their historic season, with Lawsen Lee leading all rushers with 87 yards on 28 carries and only Rudy Kealohi joining him with more than 20 carries. Moanalua scored only two rushing touchdowns all year, by Kealohi and Makana Spencer, and one of those came in the frantic final quarter of the loss to Castle after Au left. Spencer had the top rushing game of the season in a visit to Leilehua, toting the ball five times (after not carrying it at all in the previous two games) for 63 yards and a touchdown. It is the second year in a row that Moanalua has failed to have a player rush for more than 75 yards, and Na Menehune have not had anyone tap the century mark since Michael Feliciano in 2015 before Eselu’s offense took hold.


With Au slinging the ball all over the lot, it is only natural that Moanalua had an elite list of receivers. Kealohi led the way with 59 catches for 616 yards and three touchdowns, but he was hardly alone. Ezra Grace broke the plane eight times to lead the team and three other receivers (Javon Monico, CJ Paleafei and Drayden Von Oelhoffen) exceeded 250 yards. Au spread the ball around enough that there were no monster games from his receivers, but Grace had the closest thing to one. He caught 10 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns against Kailua, his only 100-plus game of the season. Twelve receivers caught passes this season, with four of them going over 100 yards at least once, the first time in school history they have spread the wealth around like that.


Something special happened to Moanalua’s defense when Hurricane Lane came and left. Na Menehune allowed 62 points in two games before the rains came, and 69 in the seven games after that. The defense’s only shutout came at the end of September against Radford, a mercy-rule killing that forced Rams QB Hunter Copp into six interceptions, including a pick-six by Keanu Kekaha and two more interceptions by Tre Barrett. Copp was forced into the nightmare because of Moanalua’s relentless pressure, hitting him nine times and stuffing the Rams into just two rushing yards. It was Moanalua’s third shutout under Eselu among games played on the field (29). It took the program’s all-time winningest coach, Arnold Martinez, 49 games to have as many shutouts.

>> Savai’i Eselu is 17-14 in three seasons.

>> QB Nick Au led Division I in passing yards.
>> WR Ezra Grace finished fifth in Division I in receiving yards.
>> WR Rudy Kealohi finished sixth in Division I in receiving yards.

>> SB/QB Rudy Kealohi, LB Micah Kim, WR CJ Paleafei, RB/SB Lawsen Lee.


Nick Au9225-332-122,50229
Ezra Grace92-3-0731
Rudy Kealohi87-10-0290
Lawsen Lee90-1-100
Lawsen Lee928870
Makana Spencer819791
Rudy Kealohi820711
Jacob Copeland712610
Javon Monico93200
Micah Kim8270
Tim Ungacta5870
CJ Paleafei7130
Tre Barnett1100
Cruz Day11-30
Taylor Manlapit11-50
Drayden Von Oelhoffen93-80
Ezra Grace98-120
Nick Au955-660
Rudy Kealohi8596163
Ezra Grace9425938
Javon Monico9313544
CJ Paleafei7363183
Drayden Von Oelhoffen9302746
Makana Spencer8141040
Lawsen Lee913761
Jacob Copeland77721
Micah Kim80671
Jacob Richmond11671
Keanu Kekawa11591
Tim Ungacta54261
Nanakuli running back Kaeo Aipia-Flood (6) lost his mouthpiece after a hit by Moanalua’s CJ Paleafei (14), top left, and Aukai Grace (4). Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Moanalua’s Trequan Henderson added two more interceptions to his resume, including one he returned for a touchdown against Radford. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.
Moanalua’s Lawsen Lee (25) ran with the ball as Damien’s Duke Ho’ohuli (10) closed in during a game this season. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.
Moanalua’s Keanu Kekawa ran for a touchdown against Damien. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.
Moanalua’s Malaefono Ale (52) sacked Castle quarterback Austyn Acosta in a 40-36 victory by Na Menehune on Aug. 10. Photo by Darryl Oumi / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Moanalua quarterback Nick Au led Division I in passing yards this season. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Moanalua’s Tupu Alualu has been a big part of Na Menehune’s OIA-best defense in Division I. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.


  1. ??? October 24, 2018 7:14 am

    The Book is CLOSED, time to put away your
    “Protect The Lake” flag!

  2. Disgusted October 24, 2018 7:45 am

    Ur an idiot! So much hate spewing from u. U seriously need God.

  3. ??? October 24, 2018 12:47 pm

    No hate here, just Karma coming back around to bite a very Cocky team. I’ll Pray for you though!

  4. ChikFilA October 24, 2018 12:54 pm

    THIS GUY “???”


    Go talk to your mom! LOL

    Sour Puss!😘🤡

  5. Sushyomouf October 24, 2018 12:54 pm

    @??? Get it straight, It’s Defend the Lake. And no be J cuz our Defense is still better than yours hunnie!

  6. ChikFilA October 24, 2018 12:55 pm

    What KARMA are you talking about?! Who was COCKY?!
    Something personal it sounds like!

  7. youGelleY October 24, 2018 1:03 pm

    ??? you ain’t got no alibi…

  8. Seaside October 24, 2018 2:46 pm

    Things happen for a reason I got to say they were just excited to be undefeated and the hype was too high for these kids and coaches. Never been done undefeated at moanolua high school I get it but I feel they will keep this as a lesson moving forward that how when things are going thier way to never forget the little things that help you get to where you are don’t be blindsided by the whole 8-0 undefeated lable that papers give u be humble and celebrate when you reach your ultimate goal…..

  9. NaMenehunePride October 24, 2018 3:08 pm

    Books are closed, Thank you Na Menehune for a great season. We appreciated the hard work you all put in at practice. Making history season, yes all things eventually comes to an end, we are so proud of you all. Good luck in future endeavors. Underclassmen back to the grinds and looking forward to next season. Respect the Process and Believe in the Bond. Onto the next.

  10. Tony October 24, 2018 3:36 pm

    Solid season; nothing to be ashamed about. Moanalua was one or two pre-game adjustments from making it to states. Lesson here is to expect the unexpected, which, obviously is easier said than done. Be proud of the work… be proud of the achievements!! Respect the progress… Go Menes!!

  11. Disgusted October 24, 2018 4:54 pm

    No hate???
    U clearly don’t read what u write.
    Cocky??? And u don’t know how to read.
    There has never been a cocky comment from Moanalua’s camp.
    Today’s comments are only due to ur “no hate” comments. (What a joke)
    Oh but about ur generous offer to pray for me, please don’t. I don’t want any of ur devil worship prayers.

  12. Farney October 24, 2018 6:01 pm

    In order to have a championship team, you need for someone to run the rock. Castle was rushing 3 linemen all night. That meant 8 were on pass defense. Duh? Usually #4 don’t beat #1.

  13. YoFarney October 24, 2018 6:26 pm


  14. JusAINTgotIt October 27, 2018 3:59 pm

    Moanalua will always be “Moanalua ” a great cheerleader school & non physical sport school, they’ll never be an elite school, jus ain’t got heart ain’t got toughness Never Had it! Their best kids are always TRANSFERS 😂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email