Lahainaluna football takes on Baldwin in their long awaited 2023 season opener
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Over a month after wildfires tore through their hometown, the Lahainaluna football team is set to open the season this weekend.
The Lunas face Baldwin on Saturday and it’s sure to be a surreal environment.
“I think it’s going to be very emotional for our kids, for the community.”
Lahainaluna started practicing again on September 7th. At the time, their season opener felt light years away. Fast forward three weeks and the team says they picked things up right where they left off.
“We were doing really well before the fire as far as football-wise, being on track, we were where we wanted to be and then of course, we had that big break,” Lahinaluna offensive coordinator Garret Tihada told Hawaii News Now. “Once they came back, they just really, really wanted to get back at it so much.”
The team using practice as a way to not only escape the circumstances they’re facing, but also process the emotions they’ve felt in the wake of the disaster.
“It was very surreal,” Lahainaluna player Kaulana Tihada said. “You know, there’s definitely been a lot of emotions, you know, thinking about all our community and all the people that were lost to the fire, we just think about them and that’s why we’re playing this game, for them.”
The coaches said they were hesitant at first to resume practices.
“When the fire first started, football wasn’t even a thought, you know, especially for those of us who lost our houses,” Coach Tihada said. “It wasn’t a thought at all.”
However, after seeing the outpouring of support, they knew the Lunas needed to play in 2023.
Not only for the players, but for the people of Lahaina.
“Being able to represent our community and what it, what it stood for,” Tihada said. “We’re just trying to play our hearts out and play for everyone that has been through the fire.”
The Lunas are ready. All that’s left to do is kick off.
“Once the Alma Mater starts playing, there’s not going to be too many dry eyes in the crowd and on the field,” Tihada said.
Kickoff is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. Hawaii time at War Memorial Stadium.
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