Moanalua coach Jason Cauley figured Leilehua’s defensive front might make it tough for the Na Menehune ground game between the tackles.
So he devised other ways to give Michael Feliciano room to roam.
Held to 27 rushing yards on 13 carries, Feliciano was quarterback Alakai Yuen’s top target in Moanalua’s 58-22 win at Leilehua on Friday in the first round of the OIA Division I playoffs. Feliciano caught 11 passes for 131 and two touchdowns in Moanalua’s first win over Leilehua in 25 meetings.
“I wanted the game out on the edge,” Cauley said. “I knew they’d be playing the run pretty strong and they did. I just wanted to get it in his hands with a little bit of space and it worked out a few times. And it opened up everyone else because everybody was converging on No. 1.”
Matching his uniform number, Feliciano was Moanalua’s No. 1 option in both the run and pass game this season. He ended the regular season as Moanalua’s leading rusher and receiver with 757 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground and another 510 yards and five scores through the air.
He caught two touchdown passes in the first half on Friday and ran for a 3-yard score n in the third quarter. Feliciano’s production accounted for a sizable chunk of Yuen’s career-best 430 passing yards and now has 21 total touchdowns this season.
“He’s a really good player and I can count on him when I’m in trouble,” said Yuen, who completed 33 of 44 pass attempts and threw six touchdown passes, five in the first half.
Moanalua had scored just 45 points in 10 previous trips to Wahiawa. Na Menehune were held to seven points for fewer on eight occasions, including four shut outs, and topped out at 14 points in 1991 before Friday’s outburst.
Yuen connected on just four of his first 11 throws then completed 13 straight to start a 16-for-18 run to close the first half and threw four touchdown passes in that stretch. He then went 13-for-15 in the second half with another score and Na Menehune pulled away from the Mules.
Yuen spread the completions among nine receivers and found Ryan Romones on eight for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Yuen enters next Saturday’s quarterfinal game against OIA Blue top seed Mililani with 2,286 yards and 25 touchdowns against eight interceptions.
He threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions in Moanalua’s 60-36 loss to Mililani in the regular-season finale on Oct. 2. Na Menehune trailed 29-0 after the first quarter and Mililani running back Vavae Malepeai ran for 282 yards and five touchdowns.
“Learned a lot,” Yuen said of the first meeting with Mililani. “We learned to start off the game correctly, start the game with more energy.”