Moanalua gets defensive in upset of No. 9 Leilehua

Leilehua running back James McGary (14) was stopped by Moanalua’s Darius Johnson and Malaefono Ale in Na Menehune's 23-10 win on Friday night. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

Not a single Moanalua fan could be blamed if the thought of a low-scoring game brought shivers to the spine.

After all, surging Moanalua had scored 40, 38 and 42 points in OIA Division I play so far, racking up a 3-0 mark heading into a showdown at Leilehua on Friday night.

The ninth-ranked Mules had extra incentive on homecoming night. Moanalua got defensive, limiting Leilehua’s normally potent offense to 199 total yards, including minus-5 on the ground, in a stunning 23-10 victory.

Moanalua is now 4-0 in OIA D-I play (4-0 overall) while Leilehua dropped to 3-1 (4-2 overall). Tupu Alualu, one of many playmakers on the defensive side, was a force with 1.5 sacks. Moanalua had three takedowns of Leilehua’s dangerous quarterback, Max Nichols, by halftime.

“Our defensive coach and offensive coach made us run a lot more this week,” said Alualu, who was the defensive line MVP at the GPA Combine last June.

Nichols was limited to 204 passing yards (17-for-34) with one TD and one late interception.

“We just had to attack the ball and pursue every play. Nobody could relax. We added a few more stunts to trick the offensive line so we could get in there more. New stuff. We know that their team watches film, so we had to mix things up and cause confusion. I worked harder against the double team and shed some blocks,” Alualu said

Alualu was straightforward about Moanalua’s place in the pecking order. Top 10 teams are mostly from the Open Division.

“This game was really important to us. It’s going to move us up in rankings. And we’re looking forward to next week,” he said.

Leilehua receiver Jeremy Evans (2) made a catch in front of Moanalua’s Trequan Henderson on Friday. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

Moanalua hosts Damien next Friday night in Na Menehune’s first game against an ILH opponnet. Its scheduled game against ‘Iolani last month was canceled due to the threat of Hurricane Lane.

Whatever it was that gave Na Menehune extra juice, it was used to the fullest on Friday night.

“Our defense took it real personal with some things we heard going on toward us. It worked out well,” Moanalua head coach Savaii Eselu said. “Leilehua liked to try and sit a little bit, try and deliver a big blow. It worked out in our favor. We’ve got to get in shape, though. We’re out of shape. We’ve got to keep going.”

Moanalua didn’t lack for playmakers. One of the biggest boosts came when safety/cornerback/rover Trequan Henderson returned a kickoff 99 yards to the end zone. He shredded through multiple arm tackles in a demonstration of pure strength.


  1. LAKESIDE PRIDE September 14, 2018 11:32 pm


  2. ??? September 15, 2018 1:02 pm

    It’s a good thing Leilehua’s RB said he was gonna “Ball Out” or they would have had negative 50 yards instead of negative 5.
    Fuel for Moanalua’s Fire!!

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