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California team celebrates early victory with impromptu Haka

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

They may not be the fearsome New Zealand All Blacks, but the Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame football team took an impromptu page out of the legendary rugby squad's playbook to celebrate an early season upset victory on Friday following Notre Dame's 35-13 win against Gardena Serra (Calif.) High.

As noted by the Los Angeles Times' Eric Sondheiemer, it's understandable that Notre Dame would be excited after starting the season with a bang. After all, the team finished the 2010 season with a 2-8 record.

Evidently, the player inspiring the Maori-style Haka was Notre Dame lineman LeRoy Tanoai, who is of Samoan heritage (Samoans also often dance the Haka). That the team chose to bring out a Haka after a win is a bit of a change of pace, considering the fact that the dance is more well known for kicking off New Zealand rugby games … or other games, for that matter.

Indeed, Notre Dame is hardly the first high school football program to unveil a Haka for a big game. Euless (Texas) Trinity High, an annual state and national title contender, has been incorporating the dance into its pregame routine for a handful of seasons.

Still, it's hard to know of any of those more established and recognizable Hakas were as jubilant as the one unfurled by Notre Dame players on Friday night. That's a credit to the Notre Dame players, even if they could use a decent tutorial from some of the players gathering in New Zealand for the start of the Rugby World Cup.

"This is unbelievable," Notre Dame's star running back, Khalfani Muhammad, told the Times. "We've been waiting for this."

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