For Lahainaluna senior Joshua Tihada, the number four will always beat 310.
On a warm Friday afternoon at Aloha Stadium, Tihada, already with more rushing yards than anybody else in the history of the state tournament, capped his prep football career with a single-game record 310 rushing yards on 36 carries and three touchdowns in a 21-10 win over Kapaa in the Division II final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships.
Tihada broke the previous record of 283 yards set by Waipahu’s Alfred Failauga in 2017. He was the entire offense for the eighth-ranked Lunas (11-2). The rest of the team accounted for only 29 rushing yards and the Lunas didn’t complete a pass, winning for the fifth time in the state tournament with no passing yards.
“That kid is a four-time state champion and I don’t know how many kids in this state can say that,” Kapaa coach Philip Rapozo said. “(He’s) no secret.”
Four-time state champion. That’s the number and legacy Tihada is most excited about.
“That’s been the thought since I was a little kid coming here when I was a waterboy and just being like I want to play in this atmosphere,” Tihada said. “Every year I wanted to strive for this very moment.”
During Tihada’s time in high school, the Lunas have gone from the team chasing championships to the dynasty everyone is trying to knock off, including Kapaa, which lost for the fourth time in the last five years in the state final.
Tihada, who finishes his career with 67 total touchdowns scored, had 19 of those in the state tournament. In nine state-tournament games, he has rushed for 1,087 yards on 176 carries with 18 TDs. That’s basically a fifth regular season worth of games.
“Honestly, I didn’t real feel like it was that much, but I just want to give thanks to the O-line,” Tihada said. “I want to thank the O-line for everything that they have done for me in this game and just practicing all week. I give (the credit) all to the O-line because they showed out.”
Tihada put the Lunas ahead first with a 4-yard TD run and averaged more than 11 yards on his seven carries in the first quarter. He was held to 43 yards during a scoreless third quarter, but put the team on his back on the game-clinching drive, rushing for 85 of the 92 yards on an 11-play drive that spanned 5:32, with a 40-yard TD run putting the Lunas ahead by the final margin.
“We went to that locker room with that mentality that this is it, this is our last half of football,” Tihada said. “We came out with a chip on our shoulder and I just … I can’t believe it.”
For many of the seniors on the field, it is the last time playing organized football. Tihada, who is listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, doesn’t hold any D-I offers, but is hoping for an opportunity.
“Right now I’m not too sure,” Tihada said about his future. “Just see what happens.”