Leilehua passes huge D-I test against ‘Iolani

Leilehua's James McGary rushed for more than 200 yards against 'Iolani in his second game back after missing time with an injury. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu saw Saturday’s game against ‘Iolani as a measuring stick to see just where his team stands.

Looks like the Mules are in phenomenal shape.

James McGary, who missed the first three games of the season with a broken right ring finger, rushed 28 times for 223 yards and three touchdowns as host Leilehua pulled away in the second half to beat No. 8 ‘Iolani 31-20 in an OIA/ILH Division I game on Saturday at Hugh Yoshida Stadium.

“It was an opportunity for our guys to look at that caliber of team and coaching and as a coaching staff and team, see if we’re at that level,” Kurisu said.

McGary injured his right hand while stiff-arming a teammate the first week of contact practices. Fortunately, he’s a left-hander and wears a brace on his right hand and primarily carries the ball in his left. He’s been told not to stiff-arm opponents, but said he still does it instinctively.

“For five weeks, I was a little ball boy. I came back and I’m starting to ball out,” McGary said.

He scored on an 80-yard run in the first half and a pair of 3-yard runs in the second as the Mules outscored the Raiders 24-7 after halftime.

“We didn’t really make adjustments, we just played,” Kurisu said of his team’s second-half performance.

The Mules’ defense turned in a bend, but don’t break performance in the first half, then dominated play in the second.

The Raiders reached the red zone on five of their six first-half possessions, but settled for a 13-7 lead at the break.

“Obviously, that’s been our nemesis the past few games,” ‘Iolani coach Wendell Look said. “We move the ball between the 20s and we get in the red zone and have problems putting points on the board.”

Look also lamented a lost fumble on the first possession of the second half and numerous penalties that short-circuited drives.

Leilehua’s Max Nichols completed 7 of 14 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

“To have (McGary) back for a second game made life a bit easier for Max,” Kurisu said.

McGary had 19 of his carries in the second half.

‘Iolani quarterback Jonah Chong threw for more than 300 yards, but struggled in the red zone. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

“They came out and had a great game plan running the ball at us,” Look said. “Usually, we do a better job.”

‘Iolani’s Jonah Chong completed 31 of 52 passes for 312, relying mostly on short passes to move the ball.

“We had to give up the hitches. We knew the wideouts were going to be running those routes,” Kurisu said. “We let them catch, keep everything in front and make the tackle.”

The Raiders’ Carter Kamana had 13 receptions for 139 yards and Jonah Miyazawa had 10 for 98.

‘Iolani scored 13 consecutive points in the first half for a six-point lead.

Mika Makekau made a pair of 30-yard field goals and Miyazawa caught a 7-yard scoring pass from Chong.

The Mules then reeled off 24 in a row to start the second half. McGary had a 3-yard touchdown run, Jeremy Evans caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Nichols, Akoni Tom-Makue made a 42-yard field goal and McGary added a 3-yard scoring run.

When addressing his team after the game, Kurisu said there would be no practice Sunday and he also reminded his players to set their fantasy football rosters for the first full week of NFL games.


  1. Jacob Makaiwi September 9, 2018 12:43 am

    Awesome job Leilehua. And great game Iolani. Iolani’s passing attack is no joke. And Iolani is a team no one can count out. Just gotta work on that red zone offense. Good luck Iolani on the rest of the season. For Leilehua, McGary is a beast! And Leilehua finally has some Big O-line men that are putting in work. Having passing and running at an offenses disposal is gonna be hard for other defenses to deal with. Leilehua always has a solid Defense and looks like the D did great this game as well. Hope the Mighty Mules keep getting better and hopefully get to the promised land in the end. Go Mules!

  2. Max's Grandpa September 10, 2018 9:35 am

    I remember somebody here a couple of weeks ago saying that Leilehua had a weak schedule. Doesn’t appear they do to me, and they’ve really jelled as a team. Real test next week against Moanalua. Leilehua has shown they’ve got a whole arsenal of weapons that are effective, and they can adjust as required. Great coaching and great players. Looking forward to the rest of the season

  3. Gino September 11, 2018 5:14 pm

    Leilehua indeed has a weak schedule. They lost to Farrington handly, They beat Kailua, Nanakuli who both are 0-4, They beat Castle which is 1-4. So they beat Iolani, woohoo. I say they got lucky. 3 teams with 1 win between each other. Farrington also only has 1 win and that’s against Leilehua. So tell me how is Leilehua doing with their weak schedule and winning record. If they were in the open the would be winless.

  4. Jacob Makaiwi September 11, 2018 7:39 pm

    Leilehua probably could be winless if they were in the Open Division. Just based off of my observations they probably have a good chance against Waianae. Maybe they would have a little chance on a rematch with Farrington later in the season. They might also have a little chance against Kapolei. But Waianae would be their best matchup to win a game against. Leilehua hasn’t been the Leilehua of old (like 2004-2012) who used to be state title contenders in the best division in Hawaii High school football. So they are in the division they belong in right now. I hope they win it all! That’s just me cuz they’re my team. But any team can win on any given day. And as for luck. Yeah, they were lucky that Iolani couldn’t get into the end zone when they were in the red zone so many times, but the way the game worked out looked like the Leilehua defense did better in the second half and their offense kept grinding until they got into the end zone. “Luck” is a part of the game, but at the end the score board doesn’t lie. I say Iolani has a really good chance to beat Leilehua if they play again. But that’s why they play in Division 1, to see in the end who is the best from all those teams. I think Leilehua can do it! Probably couldn’t do it this year in the Open Division. But it’s all good! Maybe one year they can. Haha. But it’s fun watching all these teams play and compete. Hawaii High School football is awesome. Good luck again to all the teams around the state. Do you have a favorite team Gino? Please let me know! #GoMules

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