First and foremost, McKenzie Milton and Tua Tagovailoa are friends.
Secondly, they are in the rarefied air of being among the best Hawaii high school quarterbacks ever and among the top at that position right now in Division I college football.
Thirdly, they would love to get the chance to play against each other again. They went against each other in youth football and also played on the same team. In high school, they matched up two times.
In Wednesday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, both players said that they would relish the opportunity to duel in the college ranks. Tagovailoa threw the winning touchdown in Alabama’s national championship game win over Georgia, and Milton and his UCF teammates capped a 13-0 season with a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn.
That story in which both QBs give their thoughts on the recently completed season, can be read here.
In high school, the two met for the first time Aug. 16, 2014, when Milton was a junior and Tagovailoa was a sophomore backup about to make his first splash and become the starter. Milton and the Trojans won that game 63-47 with an overflowing stat sheet:
>> Milton — 369 yards passing, 204 rushing
>> Tagovailoa — 188 passing, 73 rushing
>> Combined total (not including starter Ryder Kuhns‘ 160 yards passing for the Crusaders) — 557 passing, 277 rushing, 834 overall
That was an early-season nonleague game, and a rematch became impossible thanks to Punahou’s 35-28 win over Saint Louis on Oct. 24, 2014. The Trojans went on to top the Buffanblu 53-45 in the state title game on Nov. 21, 2014.
Moving on to the next season with Milton as a senior and Tagovailoa as a seasoned junior, they met again Nov. 13, 2015, in the state semifinals.
This time, Milton took a hit that re-injured his shoulder and he left the game during a 56-30 loss after completing five of 14 passes for 82 yards and rushing for 70 more. Tagovailoa went 15-for-18 for 376 yards and three TDs, and the Crusaders advanced to the state title game, where they lost 30-14 to Kahuku on Nov. 20, 2015.
After that game, Cal Lee said this about Tagovailoa: “I feel good when I see Tua out there. I see a person who can change the game with his passing, his running, his leadership. It’s a world of difference.”
With little doubt, Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide coach, must see the same thing.
Over the next few years, nothing is planned for an Alabama vs. UCF showdown, and the two teams meeting in a nonconference game is doubtful.
Still, a group of UCF fans have paid for a billboard asking the Crimson Tide to play the Knights in a home-and-home football series, according to a story in FBSschedules.com.