Moanalua's time comes


POSTED: Saturday, November 07, 2009

Parity has ruled the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference, but Moanalua left no doubt who the best team is this year.

Na Menehune became the sixth different team to win a White title in seven years with a 21-7 victory over Aiea last night at Aloha Stadium.

Tahje Canyon rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns and senior Essaye Villaver made two key game-altering plays as Moanalua (10-1) completed a perfect run through league play.

“;It's been a great journey—one of learning and believing in each other,”; Moanalua coach Arnold Martinez said. “;What shows great character about this team is how much resilience and toughness they have shown.”;

Moanalua defeated Aiea (8-3) for the second time in three weeks and will host Hawaii Prep in the opening round of the HHSAA Division II state tournament in two weeks.





        Arnold Martinez is the seventh coach to win the OIA White division title since its first year in 2003:

» 2009: Moanalua Menehunes (Arnold Martinez)


» 2008: Campbell Sabers (Amosa Amosa)


» 2007: Kaimuki Bulldogs (Darren Johnson)


» 2006: Waipahu Marauders (Sean Saturnio)


» 2005: Radford Rams (Fred Salanoa)


» 2004: Campbell Sabers (Tumoana Kenessey)


» 2003: Aiea Na Alii (Wendell Say)




Na Alii will host Lahainaluna in the other first-round game. 'Iolani and Kauai will receive byes.

Last night's game was much closer than the previous meeting between the two schools. Na Alii got a 1-yard touchdown run by Lawrence Lagafuaina, who missed the game three weeks ago with an ankle injury, to tie the game with 21 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

But after Aiea kicked off, Moanalua decided against taking a knee and instead called Villaver's number on a deep ball from Adam Francisco. The two executed the play to perfection, as Villaver beat the cornerback for an 80-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left to give Moanalua a 14-7 lead.

“;We decided to take a shot right at the end and it worked to perfection,”; Villaver said.

Villaver also came up with the key play of the second half that killed any chance Aiea had at a comeback.

Trailing by 14, Aiea forced a fumble by Michael Egami that was scooped up by Douglas Tautua who had nothing but green in front of him. Tautua was on the verge of a fumble return for a touchdown when Villaver caught him from behind, knocked the ball loose, and pounced on it to take over possession.

“;I was thinking don't let him score,”; Villaver said.

Moanalua then turned to Canyon to pound away at Aiea's defense. Although he fell short of the 182 rushing yards he racked up against Na Alii earlier in the season, Canyon still averaged more than 5 yards a carry and played a primary role in keeping the ball out of the hands of the Aiea offense.

“;I think they came out pumped because they had (Lagafuaina) back,”; Canyon said. “;It was tough at times, but we stayed with it.”;

Aiea's Eric Badoyan did his part trying to slow Moanalua down, finishing with a game-high 16 tackles. But Aiea killed itself with five turnovers and came up short twice on fourth-and-1 plays that stalled drives in Na Menehune territory.


At Aloha Stadium

Aiea (8-3)07007
Moanalua (10-1)777021

Moan—Tahje Canyon 43 run (Matt Blakely kick)
Aiea—Lawrence Lagafuaina 1 run (Nicholas Hiraoka kick)
Moan—Essaye Villaver 80 pass from Adam Francisco (Blakely kick)
Moan—Canyon 3 run (Blakely kick)

RUSHINGAiea: Otto-Titan Salausa 20-77, Matt Faalele 3-37, Vaa Anae 7-21, Lagafuaina 1-1, TEAM 2-(-2). Moanalua: Canyon 17-93, Francisco 11-25, Michael Egami 8-14, Xavier Peterson 3-14.
PASSINGAiea: Freddy Taliulu 6-17-3-71. Moanalua: Francisco 6-12-0-145.
RECEIVINGAiea: Kekoa Thompson 2-56, Faalele 2-9, Silva Mansfield 1-3, Phillip Madriaga 1-3. Moanalua: Rich Villasenor 3-20, Villaver 1-80, Egami 1-40, Canyon 1-5.