COUNTDOWN: No. 8 Lahainaluna poised for a fourth straight D-II state crown

Lahainaluna's Joshua Tihada has rushed for a state-tournament record 13 touchdowns in his career and is going for a fourth D-II state title in his senior season. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Lahainaluna’s Joshua Tihada already has a career’s worth of accomplishments during his time playing high school football.

Three straight state titles. Thirteen rushing touchdowns in HHSAA tournament games, a state record. Heading into his senior year, Tihada is poised to add to both.

But not before some big changes for the Lunas, who open the season ranked No. 8 in the Star-Advertiser preseason poll and were featured in today’s Star-Advertiser, which you can read here. Garret Tihada, Joshua’s uncle, resigned from his position as co-head coach, team spokesman and offensive coordinator due to personal reasons earlier this month. Dean Rickard, who has been on Lahainaluna’s coaching staff since 1987 as an offensive line coach, will take over Tihada’s duties.

“I was actually shocked but things happen the way they do and it is what it is,” Joshua Tihada said. “Things have been going really, really good. Coach Rickard has been there just as long as all the other coaches so we have a good bond with him and things have been going good.”

Rickard has been equally optimistic about the transition, noting that co-head coach Bobby Watson has been the “foundation” of the program for decades.

“The staff feeds on each other basically,” he said. “We work well together and as far as me transitioning into the offensive coordinator, I learned a lot from (Garret Tihada) in what he sees and what he does in preparation for games, and we were all involved in that aspect.

“I think it’s a lot of pressure for sure, but I think it’s something that through the years we all learned that as long as we can depend on each other, we can move forward in a positive direction and ensure that we’re able to accomplish what we need to accomplish and prepare our kids the way we should prepare them.”

Every year, Rickard says the success of the team hinges on its senior leadership. Having Joshua Tihada in the backfield his first year at the helm will be a big help.

“Anytime you have an athlete like that, as coaches you already know that teams are going to prepare for him,” Rickard said. “For us, it is a blessing to have an athlete of that talent level and skill, and he gives us a lot of opportunities to do different things.”

Rickard also mentioned receiver Kai Bookland, returning starting quarterback Nainoa Irish and defensive lineman Tuipulotu Lai as players alongside Tihada who will take on increased leadership roles this season.

The Lunas, whose 22-game winning streak is the second longest active streak behind Saint Louis’ 26 in a row, open their season on Aug. 3 when they host Damien. Then on Aug. 17, they host Kapaa in a rematch of last season’s classic HHSAA Division II final, a 34-32 win for Lahainaluna. The quest for four straight is set to begin soon, but the Lunas aren’t approaching it from that standpoint.

“I honestly think it would be a great feeling but we’re focused on this season and this season only,” Joshua Tihada said. “We’re putting the last few seasons behind us because it doesn’t really matter because all you’ll remember is the one you lost, not the other three you won. We’re putting the past behind us and looking at ourselves as a winless team.

“We’re just going to push to be the best team we can. That’s the mentality we want to have, not get big-headed and think it’s going to be easy because it’s really not going to be.”


  1. Observation July 26, 2019 7:47 am

    One would assume if they do win their fourth straight D2 title, it is time to move up.

  2. Galley F July 26, 2019 8:27 am

    If y’all wondering, Lahainaluna would love to move up but they’re not allowed to. It would take a change in the entire MIL athletic gameplan for that to happen. I’m sure they’ll make it happen as even the boys would agree.

  3. HLI July 26, 2019 11:20 am

    Maybe, perhaps, the Lunas could request to change that MIL athletic gameplan??

    I truly wish that would happen. I guess If they really wanted to, it would have been done.
    I guess they enjoy being the best of, essentially, the lowest tier teams.

    Theres contstant changing going on with formats and the like. statewide. Just not with the Lunas moving up to D1. I am not an Iolani fan but I respect them for those two years they took cracks.

    If can, can. If cannot, just say you not allowed.


  4. Roy S. Nakashima July 27, 2019 7:32 am

    Must of the D-1 school would beat Lahainaluna any ways, so down in D-2.

  5. LunasDasY July 30, 2019 3:17 pm

    @Roy .. with the creation of the “Open division” its useless to have A D1 & D2 … they can all beat eachother on any given day … your idea of MOST D1 schools being able to beat Lunas is a silly hater opinion. Lahainaluna has been beating D1 schools for the past 20 years, get a grip.

    The MIL is the only league where the ADS and SCHOOL PRINCIPALS decide where to place their schools, the coaches have no say. Putting Lahaina in D1 would mean The Large schools on Maui would probably not be represented at the Chapionship Tourney, which is NOT supported by the Large School Ads and Principals. Yall dont wanna see Lunas in D2 write to Maui High & Baldwin AD & Principal and tell them to step their games up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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