LAHAINA - The red sea of fans from the North Shore of Oahu descended on Aloha Stadium on Friday night.
Today, it is West Maui's turn to do the same to the orange seats of the state's largest stadium.
Lahainaluna High School, the No. 2 seed in the First Hawaiian Bank Division II State Football Championship, faces Nanakuli today at 4 p.m. in the semifinal round.
Asi Fatongia will try to help Lahainaluna High School reach its second state championship game today.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"There is definitely excitement," said Lunas co-head coach Garret Tihada. "You cannot really go much places in Lahaina without hearing, 'Hey, good luck.' Just well wishes throughout the day. Guys are really excited and we are really fortunate to be playing in Lahaina and having the support that we have."
Kahuku, which on Friday beat Farrington in a Division I semifinal, may have the best-traveling fans in the state, with Lahainaluna - especially on a per-capita basis - running a close second.
"And it's not just us," Tihada noted. "You are looking at wrestling, basketball, water polo, you name it, you have got support up and down for every sport. It is a great community."
FIRST HAWAIIAN BANK STATE FOOTBALL
At Aloha Stadium
Punahou 49, Mililani 19
Kahuku 47, Farrington 14
Friday, Nov. 23
Punahou vs. Kahuku, 7 p.m.
Lahainaluna vs. Nanakuli, 4 p.m.
Iolani vs. Radford, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 23
Lahainaluna-Nanakuli winner vs. Iolani-Radford winner, 4 p.m.
Lahainaluna's Kiko Kohler-Fonohema led the Maui Interscholastic League in touchdown passes this season, with eight, and threw for 546 yards, second in the league. He was the only regular quarterback to complete at least half his attempts, and was intercepted just twice.
Kohler-Fonohema, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior, was also the second-leading scorer in the league, with 64 points, and the sixth-ranked rusher, with 395 yards and eight touchdowns on 76 carries, which included negative yardage for sacks.
"He did a good job for us, he worked hard during the offseason and really dedicated himself to getting better, and I give him all the credit in the world that he's the best with the tools that he has - he has played to his strengths," Tihada said.
This week, the Lunas (8-1) continued their regular-season policy of not allowing players to speak to the media.
Kohler-Fonohema will see double duty against the Golden Hawks (7-4), also playing defensive back. Running back-linebacker Semisi Filikitonga, tight end-linebacker Asi Fatongia, slotback-defensive back Mark Alamon, wide receiver-defensive back Jared Purdy, lineman Connor Mowat and running back-defensive back Tytus Lucas are Lahainaluna's other two-way starters.
Jared Rocha-Isalas, a linebacker and running back, is not expected to play because of an injured ankle.
The Lunas' defense got most of the attention this season with six shutouts and an average of 98.0 yards allowed per game, but the offense averaged 33 points and 300.8 yards. Lahainaluna's shotgun wing-T offense has about five base plays.
In every game except an overtime loss to Baldwin, the Lunas were in control early - the closest MIL game they won was their first of the season, 29-0 over King Kekaulike.
"More than any other year we kind of slowed things down a little bit and shrunk the offensive playbook a little bit," said Tihada, who is also the offensive coordinator.
Lahainaluna has not played since a 31-0 victory over Maui High on Oct. 26.
"You want to perfect your base plays, stuff that you normally do, be a little more crisp, execution, and you want to add in a few more wrinkles," Tihada said. "We have done a decent job of getting that done during this break."
The Lunas are 0-3 at Aloha Stadium in the state tournament, including a loss to Iolani in the 2007 D-II state final. That started a run of five straight titles for the Raiders, who face Radford in today's second semifinal.
"The bottom line is we're just going to go out and try to win this game," Tihada said. "I know that sounds too simplistic, but whatever we have got to do to win, whether it is running, passing, use a few trick plays that we have put in, whatever it takes to advance.
"Just the atmosphere of being in that coliseum-type setting is going to be a good thing for our kids. You need to have that once in a while where you go into a place and go, 'Wow. I love being here, I want to play here.' Let them enjoy getting it all in, all the 50,000 seats and all of the levels and all of that."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org