Today at 7 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium, the two teams that have been on top of the Maui Interscho-lastic League since 2001 meet for the first time this season.
As usual, the matchup between Baldwin High School and Lahainaluna is generating considerable buzz.
"Oh yeah, there's a lot of people talking about the game," Lunas co-head coach Garret Tihada said Thursday. "But we have to approach this game like any other game and prepare our kids just as hard for Baldwin as we do for any other team in the league."
Both teams are 2-0 in league play.
"I'm expecting that everybody is excited," said Bears coach Keneke Pacheco. "The people from Lahaina are excited, the people for Baldwin are excited. I just think it is going to be good entertainment."
Lahainaluna will get two defensive starters back from injury - defensive end Connor Mowat (shoulder) and safety Kiko Kohler-Fonohema (knee) both missed last week's 49-0 win over King Kekaulike.
Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Maui High at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 20
Maui High vs. Lahainaluna at War memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 21
Baldwin at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.
Pacheco said Jeremiah Badillo will start at quarterback for the Bears, while Josiah Maglente-Tonu could also see action. They are the only MIL passers who have completed more than half their throws - Badillo is 19-for-32 for 258 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions; Maglente-Tonu is 6-for-10 for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Baldwin leads the league in offense with 421.5 yards per game, while Lahainaluna tops the defensive numbers by a wide margin, allowing just 63 yards per game - including a total of 10 yards rushing.
The Bears' Dusty Flores leads the league in rushing with 339 yards, while the Lunas' Christian Whitehead is second with 192, and has a league-high four touchdowns.
Baldwin owns eight outright titles since Maui High won the 2000 league crown, Lahainaluna has two and the Lunas and Bears have shared the other two, including last season when the teams split their two meetings and each finished 7-1 in the league.
"That's a good question, I guess we will find out tomorrow night," Tihada said when asked if his team is ready. "We have been working hard preparing, but it is hard to tell. I mean, Baldwin is Baldwin. They are still big, still fast, still strong."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com