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Hawaii school’s fans cherish football game at Bishop Gorman, will pack stands on game day

Bishop Gorman fans celebrate a score by Damuzhea Bolden (11) on a defensive turnover versus Cocoa on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.

The phone calls come daily to the Bishop Gorman High athletic department, and on many days, multiple callers reach out with a similar question: How do I get tickets for the football game with Kahuku of Hawaii?

Gorman’s schedule against a who’s who of national opponents brings the Kahuku Red Raiders, the defending Hawaii state champions who are ranked No. 17 by USA Today, Saturday to Gorman’s Fertitta Field. And along with the football team, its loyal fan base isn’t far behind.

When Kahuku played in Utah a few seasons ago, 8,000 supporters living in the region attended, said Talamoni Talamoni, a Kahuku graduate who lives in Las Vegas. He’s part of Kahuku LV Alumni, who along with Pacific Rise, is coordinating events for the team’s visit.

“It’s about our community and its tradition,” Talamoni said. “The kids have grown up in that community. They have relatives who’ve played for the team. You can (trace) the genealogy on every player back to someone.”

Gorman officials, like they do for any out-of-the-area team it hosts, gave Kahuku an allotment of 2,100 tickets — 1,500 seats; 600 standing room. Those tickets were sold in less than one hour. Gorman’s side of the stadium also sold out with its students and alumni quickly grabbing tickets when they went on sale earlier this month.

Cue the phone calls to Gorman.

In addition to asking — begging — for a seat, many have suggested moving the game to Sam Boyd Stadium, where Gorman previously played select games before moving its campus to Summerlin in 2008. The original campus didn’t have a stadium. The new campus arguably has one of the nation’s best.

“We love our stadium. It’s a great venue and a great high school environment,” said Sally Nieman, Gorman’s athletic director.

Gorman will issue field passes to media and Kahuku school officials for the sideline. For those who can’t get in, some will resort to peeking through the stadium fence for a glimpse of the action. And like most games, fans should plan on a short walk to the get to the stadium with the lot quickly filling up.

“There are so many Las Vegas residents with roots in Hawaii that they are going to come out and support their friends and families.” Nieman said. “We look forward to hosting them. It’s going to be a fun night.”

The fun begins today for the Kahuku faithful.

They’ll invade the Fremont Street Experience Third Street stage from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. for a rally, including speeches from coaches, a Haka performance from players and singing of the school’s alma mater. Friday, they’ve rented out Chateau nightclub on the Strip for a pregame party featuring island reggae music.

“This is bigger than when UNLV played Hawaii,” Talamoni said. “We have so much pride in this team and what they represent.”

Some of Gorman’s national opponents, especially those in this region, have previously brought a strong following. Schools such as Servite and St. John Bosco from California likely had the most fans, while Bingham of Utah was arguably the loudest. Kahuku, who has outscored opponents 254-22 in five games this season, including 82-0 last week, will likely take that claim after Saturday.

But top-ranked Gorman, which hasn’t lost since 2013, has beaten every one of those opponents. They also won at Cedar Hill of Texas this season in front of 12,000 fans, many of whom were cheering against them. Needless to say, facing Kahuku will be nothing new for the Gorman players.

“In eight years, it’s hard to pick one game that’s been the loudest,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said.

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