Pacific University will play Occidental in Hawaii on Saturday
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
The University of Hawaii football team may be playing a road game in Arizona this weekend, but there will still be college football in Hawaii.
For what is believed to be the first time in Hawaii history, a pair of NCAA DIII schools -- Oregon's Pacific University and Occidental College of Los Angeles -- have flown to Oahu to face-off at Kamehameha's Kunuiakea Stadium on Saturday.
School officials say the game has been years in the making. Both programs have clear connections to the islands; Occidental's head coach and offensive coordinator have previously been head coaches of Hawaii high schools, and the Boxers boast nearly 30 players who call Hawaii home.
"We're all pretty excited," said 'Iolani graduate Max Look, who won a state title with the Raiders back in 2010. "Just for all the local boys, to come back, to play in front of their home fans, all the family that hasn't seen them play in a while... It's a nice little homecoming for us."
According to the school's athletic department, Pacific University is a home-away-from-home for many Hawaii residents. More than 3,000 Pacific alumni live across the Hawaiian Islands, as do at least 400 current students.
Last season, the Boxer football team had 28 players from Hawaii on its roster, the second highest number in the nation behind only the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
"I think so many of these kids came to the mainland, their parents sent them to the mainland thinking they'd never get to see them play another football game in Hawaii again," said Boxers head coach Keith Buckley. "So to be able to bring that back is really special."
The Boxers and Tigers will kick off tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Kamehameha-Kapalama's Kunuiakea Stadium.