West side is best side when Lunas sweep Bears

Lahainaluna's Joshua Tihada followed his blockers as the defending Division II state champion Lunas opened the 2017 season with a 20-7 win over Pearl City. Darryl Oumi / Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Lahainaluna’s 28-20 victory over Baldwin on the Bear’s turf — War Memorial Stadium — puts the pride of the West side firmly ahead in the Maui Interscholastic League football maze.

The Lunas may be Division II on paper, but they’ve played elite football for decades, even when the shelf wasn’t quite loaded and the roster has been quite young. This season, the defending D-II state champs are primed to become the overall MIL champion, as well, whether the league has a trophy or not.

In most years, Lahainaluna and Baldwin do anything but split their two games. The Lunas have a beautiful home stadium, as well, making it more difficult than ever for Central Maui and Upcountry programs to wield their old home-field edge on the team in red. In fact, in six of the last seven seasons, the Bears and Lunas split only once.

The win by Lahainaluna on Friday night ends a four-game losing streak to Baldwin.

Lahainaluna 28, Baldwin 20, at War Memorial Stadium

Baldwin 29, at Lahainaluna 27
Baldwin 15, Lahainaluna 13, at WMS

Baldwin 48, at Lahainaluna 27
Baldwin 30, Lahainaluna 9, at WMS

Lahainaluna 42, Baldwin 7, at WMS
At Lahainaluna 35, Baldwin 0

Lahainaluna 28, Baldwin 7, at WMS
Lahainaluna 48, Baldwin 3, at WMS

Lahainaluna 32, Baldwin 0, at WMS
Baldwin 20, Lahainaluna 17, OT

Baldwin 24, Lahainaluna 17, at WMS
Baldwin 41, Lahainaluna 0, at WMS

Baldwin 27, Lahainaluna 20, at WMS
Baldwin 14, Lahainaluna 0, at WMS

Like the BIIF, being in D-II in the MIL is not an easy place to be when the league’s best team is often a smaller program that really does belong in D-II — enrollment-wise. In terms of quality and longevity, tradition and consistency, Lahainaluna can easily battle with the state tournament’s D-I programs. That’s a choice best left, of course, to the Lunas. Until then, the likes of King Kekaulike and Kamehameha-Maui are stuck with the Lunas, much the way Honokaa, Hawaii Prep and Kamehameha-Hawaii are stuck with Konawaena.

If HPA delves further into the possibility of 8-man football — Pahoa’s comeback and success is a huge boost for 8-man football everywhere — it could signal a new era for some of the state’s fringe D-II teams. But that’s another story for another day.


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