FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The state champion Leilehua High School football and cross country teams were honored yesterday with a parade up California Avenue through Wahiawa. Football player Josh Cruz responded to cheers from the crowd along the parade route.
Wahiawa parade honors Leilehua High champs
A light rain yesterday couldn't dampen the spirit during Wahiawa's parade to celebrate two state champion teams from Leilehua High School.
Wahiawa resident Ed Estoesta, 62, even called it a "Mule's blessing."
"We pray for it," he said. "We get rain and we win."
The Leilehua Mules won their first state football championship in 23 years and the cross country team brought another state title to Wahiawa.
Residents including children on bicycles lined the streets to watch the "Parade of Champions" stroll down California Avenue to Leilehua High School, ending with a pep rally.
Leilehua upset top-seeded Saint Louis 20-16 in the Division I state championship game on Nov. 30 at Aloha Stadium.
Roy Belisario played slot back for the school when it won the 1984 Prep Bowl.
In that game, Leilehua beat Saint Louis 10-0, he recalled. He couldn't sit still during this year's championship game.
"I was kind of speechless," he said. "I saw all my classmates. Everybody came out of the woodwork for that one."
The teams were joined by the Royal Hawaiian Band, local politicians, the school band and cheerleaders, all celebrating the public school in a small town that beat a private school in football and can claim to be the best in the state in two sports.
"It's a tight-knit community," said Diane Alailima, whose husband is a team coach and her son a senior on the team. "Most of the people here have lived here all their lives."
The night of the win, there was no rest with horns honking until 2 a.m.
"That's how this community is," she said. "It's very exciting for the boys to have this success. It's a very bonding experience for the community."
"Small town, big dreams," said Mike Schaub, 63, a Los Angeles transplant who came to Wahiawa 25 years ago. "It's just a sense of pride."