For some 20 years, Lahainaluna football — both at the varsity and JV level — has maintained a level of success that has taken the program to the top of the Maui Interscholastic League. Year in and year out, the final MIL standings find the Lunas at or near the top.
And, at both levels, it is clear to see that this high success rate comes as a direct result of the veteran, quality coaching staffs that have learned and maintained the organizational focus skills and dedication factors that lead to championship high school football programs.
For the Luna JVs, Aloha Kaniho returns in his fourth campaign as the head coach and his 14th year with the program. Coach Aloha and the staff of Nolle Smith (quarterbacks, offensive coordinator), Dal Magno (linebackers, defensive coordinator), Sonnie Waiohu (defensive line), Keone Ampong (offensive line), Darren Kawahara (running backs), George Tadakuma (offensive line) and Andy Claydon (receivers) form a seasoned staff well-versed in their responsibilities as mentors of their highly impressionable charges.
“So far, so good,” commented Coach Aloha from the Imu — Lahainaluna’s state-of-the-art athletic field — last week.
“We had a pretty good turnout of kids — about 55 are on the roster right now — and we’re pleased with the number, because we always look to help the varsity by developing them in the system so that they are ready to move up when the time comes to do so. We’re still developing and we’re untested going into the MIL season, but we’ve always believed in being in better condition than our opponents. So, I hope our players can grasp our philosophy and this will take us to our peak, hopefully in the second half of the season.
“These kids have a lot of potential, and we have some talented kids in key positions coming back from last year’s team,” Kaniho continued. “We have good team speed and the off-season workouts went very well. It’s a matter of the kids believing in themselves and knowing and understanding the plays. We’ll run the same offense —flexbone option — as the varsity, and a 4-3 base defense that will mix up zone and man-to-man coverages.”
The Luna JVs will play an eight-game schedule this year matching up twice each against King Kekaulike, Baldwin, Maui High and Kamehameha Schools Maui and into a championship playoff, if necessary. All games will precede the varsity contests between the schools at the same site with kickoff at 4 p.m.
“I hope we can reach that peak again in the second half of the season. I know the coaches and the community will give their all to try to get us there, and I send my thanks out to all for their support. And a special mahalo to all of the wives and girlfriends of the coaches for their understanding and effort in creating this good energy we have up here at Lahainaluna,” Coach Aloha concluded.
The Lahainaluna High School junior varsity football team finished the 2010 season with a 6-2 record highlighted by a hard-fought win over MIL champion and, up to then, undefeated Baldwin. Photo by Denton Johnson.