There is Hawaii, the state, and there is Hawaii, the island, also known as the Big Island.
Chaminade High arrived in Kailua-Kona today to play football against the Big Team on the Big Island, Konawaena High.
Konawaena, a public school of 1,400 students, has won the past 10 Big Island Interscholastic Federation championships. The Wildcats were 9-3 last season.
The island might be big, but the population is small. Only 122,300 live on the Big Island, compared to 841,600 on Oahu.
There are six high schools with football teams on the Big Island, and Konawaena rounds out its schedule with games against teams from Oahu and Maui.
Bob Fitzgerald, a transplanted mainlander who attended Loyola High in Los Angeles and Colorado State, is beginning his third season as Konawaena coach. He loves the place.
“Kona is a rural area; it’s very attractive,” said Fitzgerald, 38, a Konawaena assistant for five years before becoming head coach in 1988.
Fitzgerald had tried to schedule Loyola for tonight’s game, which is called the Ellison Onizuka Memorial in honor of the astronaut from Kona who died aboard the Challenger space shuttle. Loyola declined and suggested Fitzgerald give Chaminade a call. “The Chaminade people were enthusiastic from the beginning,” he said.
Konawaena uses a double-slot offense with a single setback, returning starter Roger Naiat.
Ted Corcoran, who moved form tailback to fullback this season, likely will carry the load for Chaminade, 8-3 last season. Corcoran also plays middle linebacker.
Chaminade Coach Rich Lawson said that Jeff Meyer and Travis Hall will see action at quarterback.
“This is a season opener for us and we’ll treat it as such,” Lawson said.