Jason Negro didn’t confine his talented team once it arrived in the islands.
The longtime St. John Bosco coach didn’t mince words either about the danger of looking past the Mililani Trojans. His Braves came through on Saturday night with a 42-10 win over Hawaii’s second-ranked team at John Kauinana Stadium.
The Braves turned two interceptions by defensive back Josh Alford into first-half touchdowns. The second takeaway by Alford turned into a pick-6, a 26-yard scoring return that opened the lead to 21-3 in the second quarter.
Ranked No. 2 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25, St. John Bosco is more than excellent. Mililani did all it could to stonewall the Braves’ ground attack. There was simply no answer for Braves QB DJ Uiagalelei. At 6-foot-5 and 246 pounds, he consistently fended off multiple tacklers in the pocket, sometimes shaking them off like Godzilla in a war zone.
He finished 21-for-29 with 347 passing yards, three TD tosses and one rushing TD. This, after he promised earlier in the week that St. John Bosco has the best offense in the nation. There was often the feeling that he could have scrambled for much more yardage — he finished with 23 rushing yards on five attempts — but always, always had his eyes upfield. It didn’t matter if he was targeting starters like Beaux Collins (TD) and Kris Hutson (TD) or a reserve sophomore like Chedon James, who leaped high for a 41-yard score in the second quarter after Uiagalelei had been grabbed by at least three defenders.
“Chedon, that’s my boy. We have a lot of young receivers that people just don’t know about because we have so many good (older) receivers. I trust all my receivers,” Uiagalelei, a Clemson commit, said. “I trust them in any position against anybody on the field. I feel like we have the best receiving corps in the nation, so I try to give them a chance.”
He also throws a 90-plus mph fastball. He hasn’t played basketball since freshman year.
“I mean, it’s just too much with baseball and football,” he said.
The comparison to a tall, big, strong QB like Ben Roethlisberger is apt. Uiagalelei embraces his natural size and strength.
“I like to eat a lot,” Uiagalelei said. “We don’t have too much Polynesian food ‘cause I’m only half Samoan. My dad’s full Samoan so he doesn’t cook that much unless I go to my grandma’s house, then I’ll eat a lot of Samoan food. My mom usually cooks. She’s half-black, half-German, so it’s a mixture of different foods. I like her chicken enchiladas. The weight comes on naturally for Polynesians. I’m trying not to eat too much.”
He has the skill set in RPO action that is reminiscent of a young Marcus Mariota, extending the handoff, selling the play and then pulling the ball out of his RB’s belly after what seems like seconds. It’s a tough task for any defense to contain Uiagalelei.
The arm strength in traffic is simply confounding for defenders. Incredible for spectators.
“I try not to run the ball too much. If I do get out of the pocket, I try to get as many yards as I can. I try to get the ball in the hands of our receivers and running backs, and let them run,” Uiagalelei said.
It won’t be much of a surprise if one day, should the Pro Bowl ever return to Hawaii, that No. 5 for Bosco is wearing that same number, representing an NFL team. Uiagalelei isn’t thinking too far ahead, though. He just enjoyed the competition and the atmosphere.
“It’s my first time in Hawaii. It was a physical game, big hits, nothing wrong with it,” he said.
But it isn’t Big Ben who is his favorite QB.
“Jeremiah Masoli,” he said of the former Saint Louis slinger.