Leilehua Mules step things up to defend championship title - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Leilehua Mules step things up to defend championship title

Nolan Mules Nolan Mules
Nathan Hall Nathan Hall

By Jason Tang - bio | email

WAHIAWA (KHNL) - When the High School State Football Championships kick off on Friday, the Leilehua Mules know there will be a big target on their backs.

As defending state champions, every team wants to face them, especially the Baldwin Bears.

The Mules beat the Bears in the final seconds of last year's semifinal.

For Leilehua, their road to a repeat title won't be easy.

Last year they had a first round bye and played all their games at Aloha Stadium.

This year, they have to travel to Maui to face Baldwin in their first round matchup

"We've had two weeks to prepare for them, they've had two weeks to prepare for us so it'll come down to game day on who will minimize the big plays and minimize the mistakes," said Mules head coach Nolan Tokuda.

After losing to Farrington in the OIA semi's three weeks ago, Coach Tokuda is looking for his players to step things up in practice.

"He just told us we had to run our routes harder in practice and not slack cause Farrington game we weren't running our routes that hard and he wasn't too happy about that," said Mules wide receiver Rico Newman.

The Mules aren't concerned with who lines up opposite of them. They say their focus is squarely on themselves since that's all they can control.

"We definitely look at Baldwin's schemes on offense and defense and adjust to that, but primarily we're concerned with ourselves." said Mules linebacker Nathan Hall.

As defending state champions, all eyes will be on Leilehua to see whether or not they falter. But the team says they feel no pressure.

"There's really no pressure for us, we're just going to go out there and play, we're fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play, and strap it up two more weeks, and hopefully after this week we'll have the opportunity to strap it up next week."

Despite being the lowest seed in the tournament, Coach Tokuda says there are some perks.

For many of his players this will be their first time traveling to another island.

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