The 50th anniversary of ‘Iolani’s Father Bray Classic is Saturday night at Aloha Stadium, featuring the Raiders hosting Kalani in the nightcap. Pac-Five will kick things off against Radford.
‘Iolani will celebrate its triple crown of champions in 1950 and 1951, when the Raiders, under coach Father Bray, won ILH titles in football, basketball and baseball in the same season.
Football was the toughest championship to win, as ‘Iolani started the season with a 7-2 loss to Farrington. Two games later, however, the Raiders ended Saint Louis’ 24-game winning streak with a 25-6 win. The Crusaders, coached by Neal Blaisdell at the time, had no answer for ‘Iolani’s running back combo of Nobu Yonamine and David Yamashiro, who both missed the game against the Govs.
Left tackle Charlie Ka’aihue (#36 in photo) and center Walter Nobuhara (#45) served as the team captains. Ka’aihue went on to play for the Oakland Raiders.
The team was so good that it’s believed it was the only time Father Bray filled out an all-state ballot. In keeping to ‘Iolani’s “One Team” mantra, Bray supposedly listed his entire first and second teams on the ballot.
The basketball team took home the ILH championship with a starting lineup that included Yamashiro, Merv Lopes, Cliff Kauwe, David Almadova and Walter Taguma.
Like in football, Saint Louis was the defending champion in basketball and beat ‘Iolani in the first matchup, 45-39. The Raiders won the next two meetings, however, getting a 16-point performance from Lopes in a 44-37 win in the championship game.
It was ‘Iolani’s first and only ILH basketball championship, until Doc Mugiishi won his first league title in 1994 with a team that included current basketball coach Dean Shimamoto.
The baseball team went a perfect 11-0, with left-handed pitcher Douglas Matsuoka winning all 11 games. They sure don’t make them like they used to.
Bray retired on Oct. 22, 1952, and died three months later on Jan. 9, 1953.
Special thanks to John Tamanaha, Director of Interactive Media at ‘Iolani, for providing the photo and info. He also points out that Frank Kaho’ohanohano, who played on all three teams plus golf and track, retired as Chief of the Honolulu Fire Department in 1989. Dexter Seto played on all three teams as well as the baseball team that won the ILH championship a year earlier in 1950 as a sophomore.