It's tradition that an Alaska High School team – or two – open the football season throughout the land.
It just doesn't jive that an Alaskan team would do so sporting flip flops and puka shells. Service (Anchorage, Alaska)
, the defending state runner-up, plays at Hawaii state power Leilehua (Wahiawa, Hawaii)
today at 9 p.m. (PST) in a game that kicks off both the football season and 2011-12 prep sports year.
The game has been tabbed the "Fire and Ice Bowl," and features the last two states to join the union, both in 1959.
"We're acclimating," said Service coach Jason Caldarera whose team lost 14 seniors from last year's 9-2 team. "We're preaching lots of hydration, loads of sun screen and instructing the boys to get away from the coral."
When Calderera's 36-person squad left Anchorage on Monday it was overcast, damp and a brisk 53 degrees.
When they arrived in Waikiki six hours later, it was a balmy 85 and the Pacific blue was glistening.
Not that Caldarera or the Cougars would notice.
"We're looking at this as a business trip," Caldarera said. "We're not staying in Waikiki. We're staying on the North Shore at a YMCA with 16 bunks.
"Believe me, we're very grateful to our very gracious hosts. The community effort has been tremendous. But our focus this week isn't on this beautiful backdrop or hospitality. We are focused on a game and a very talented and well-coached Leilehua team."