The entire first half of the HHSAA Football Championships Division I title game at SkippaDiaz Stadium was both a punt-fest, and a slugfest.
However, in the end, ‘Iolani passed Lahainaluna 38 to 0 to win the D-I Trophy.
Tristan Martinez and Kai Preusser from ‘Iolani set the stage for Raiders’ 38-0 victory with first-half touchdowns.
Both schools have been at it many times at state tournament time over the years, previously at the D-II levels. Both schools heard calls from fans and decided to take the elevator up. They then worked their way up to the state D-I finals two days before Christmas, the first season since COVID-19 arrived.
Thursday’s trophy presentation was made to the 2021 state Division I champion, the ‘Iolani Raiders.
Tristan Martinez’s 22 yard touchdown run on fourth-down-and-1 reverse was the first big play. This came after a timeout that gave the ‘Iolani braintrust the chance to discuss it.
Kai Preusser’s vertical made the second difference. He soared high to catch a wind-blown, lofted pass from quarterback Kualau Manuel. It resulted in a 28 yard second quarter touchdown and an important 14-0 lead.
The third quarter saw ‘Iolani extend its lead after Taniela Tamalu broke through to a wide open space and caught a 29 yard TD pass from Manuel. Keao Miyahira then took a short pass by Manuel and scored a 41-yard touchdown.
Manuel added to the 38-0 final with a 6-yard run. Allison Chang also made a field goal from 19 yards.
The MIL champion, the top-seeded and sixth-ranked Lunas (7-1), could not get anything going on offense. Kaulana Tihada, with 41 yards, was their top ground gainer.
Bronson Morioka, who had eight tackles, was the ‘Iolani’s top tackler on Thursday.
Brody Bantolina was, as he has done all year, the ‘Iolani workerhorse. He carried the ball 23 times and gained 87 yards.
The Lunas have a record of 40-3 in the last four seasons. They have won 18 consecutive games overall, 10 state tournament games and 4 D-II championships. Lahainaluna lost a 38-31 game against Damien in nonleague on Aug. 3, 2019.
The Raiders won the fourth state championship final against Lahainaluna.