A football game has the top two prep squads going at it for the first time in years
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 28, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 02:55 a.m. HST, Aug 28, 2010
Saint Louis High School fans turned the visitors stands blue at Kahuku's Carleton Weimer Field for the first time in decades last night.
The high school football matchup between No. 2 Saint Louis and No. 1 Kahuku marked the first time in recent memory that the teams faced off on Red Raider turf. The preseason showdown also gave the state's top-ranked teams a chance to flex their muscles going into the regular season next month.
"Any time that we have a game here, it's been really good," said Kahuku athletic director Joe Whitford. "We're very excited we can stay home and enjoy the homecoming. It's just so much more comfortable."
Kahuku High School hosts three home games a year with teams in the Oahu Interscholastic Association, Whitford said. The only time that they have faced the Saint Louis Crusaders — who belong to the Interscholastic League of Hono-lulu — has been in interconference games played at Aloha Stadium.
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OIA and ILH officials scheduled the game over the summer to honor repeated requests from Kahuku to move more games to the North Shore.
Saint Louis athletic director Ed Paola said it was not his choice to move the game, but did not mind the trip.
"It's been great," Paola said. "With the competition in the ILH, we couldn't ask for a better game."
Paola said the away game was a nice homecoming for a number of Saint Louis players from the Kahuku area.
"I'm sure they were excited about playing at home," he said.
In anticipation of the event, Whitford said, Kahuku hired extra security crews and concession staff. Although the two conferences share gate proceeds, the Kahuku athletic program will get to keep profits on food and merchandise sold at the field.
The North Shore matchup was an adjustment for fans on both sides.
Parents of the Saint Louis varsity team chartered a large tour bus to make the trek to the North Shore, while hundreds more Crusader fans drove themselves to the event.
Though excited to see the teams in action, Saint Louis fans had mixed opinions on the long drive and giving Kahuku home-field advantage.
"I don't mind the drive," said Weston Correa, father of Saint Louis player Kamalei Correa, "and they've been beautiful, real pleasant."
"The drive was horrifying," said Maniate Sagapolutele, whose son Peter plays for Saint Louis. "This is a big game, and I like the atmosphere back at Aloha Stadium."
Kahuku fans — many of whom walked to the stadium from their homes — said they were happy to host Saint Louis on the North Shore.
"Normally, we have to go to the stadium," said Michelle Mohetau, mother of a Kahuku player. "It's kinda nice to have home-field advantage."
Although conference officials have not determined whether the preseason game will become an annual event, Whitford said Kahuku's door is always open.
"We hope that we can host every year," Whitford said. "Nothing like coming to our home field."