The first of three big games this year featuring a legitimate mainland team against one of the best from Hawaii takes place Saturday when Liberty (Nev.) High faces No. 2 Saint Louis at Aloha Stadium.
The Patriots are the five-time defending Sunrise Regional Champions. Three of those five years, their season ended in a loss to Bishop Gorman in either the state final or state semifinal.
Head coach Rich Muraco is 61-17 with the Patriots and yes, he is related to the wrestler, Don Muraco of Punahou, who was a first-team ILH tackle in 1966 and runner up at 210 pounds to Chuck Weise of Kailua in the state wrestling tournament.
Kaipo Batoon, who played for Cal Lee at Saint Louis, is the defensive coordinator while Roosevelt alum Chad Kapanui serves as the quarterbacks coach. Other coaches with Hawaii ties on the staff are Nua Agatonu, Justin Clark, Kavika Batoon and Vince Leae.
Quarterback Kenyod Oblad started every game last season as a freshman and was offered a scholarship by Brigham Young in the spring. He’s also already receiving interest from Stanford, Nevada, UNLV, Colorado, Utah, Colorado State and San Diego State.
Wide receiver Ethan Dedeaux was first-team all-state as a sophomore last season and is receiving major college interest from BYU, Nevada and San Diego State.
Defensive back Bryan Roland has offers from Southern University and Adams State; RB/LB Calvin Tubbs was offered by Western New Mexico; OL Malasala Aumavae is drawing interest from UNLV, Oregon State and Notre Dame.
Roland, LB Kaimi Batoon and FB Alofania Tevaseu are all four-year starters.
Over the past few seasons, Liberty, which will host Mililani a week from Friday, has played other out-of-state powers including Centennial Corona (Calif.), Hamilton (Ariz.) High, Sal Pointe Catholic (Ariz.) and Crespi (Calif.)
For the Crusaders, this isn’t the first big challenge they’ve faced from the mainland, Last year, Saint Louis lost 63-14 to St. John Bosco (Calif.).
Here’s a list of every out-of-state U.S. team the Crusaders have played dating back to 1967 and how they’ve fared. Overall, the Crusaders are 14-5-1 but have lost three of four:
8/22/2014 St. John Bosco (Calif.) L 14 63 Aloha Stadium
9/1/2012 Bishop Gorman (Nev.) L 40 52 Aloha Stadium
9/10/2005 Davis (Utah) W 54 26 Aloha Stadium
9/21/2002 De La Salle (Calif.) L 21 31 Aloha Stadium
8/25/2001 San Clemente (Calif.) W 40 7 Aloha Stadium
8/20/1999 Chugiak (Alaska) W 81 14 Aloha Stadium
8/28/1999 at Salt Lake City West (Utah) W 56 13
9/5/1988 at Green Valley (Nev.) W 55 6
8/31/1995 Hart (Calif.) W 38 33 Aloha Stadium
9/1/1994 Skyline (Calif.) W 41 19 Aloha Stadium
9/2/1993 Capistrano Valley (Calif.) W 13 7 Aloha Stadium
8/29/1992 Mountain View (Calif.) W 21 7 Aloha Stadium
9/4/1992 Clovis (Calif.) W 24 8 Aloha Stadium
9/7/1991 Bakersfield (Calif.) W 30 13 Aloha Stadium
8/25/1990 Lincoln W 47 13 Aloha Stadium
8/30/1990 Canyon (Calif.) L 0 40 Aloha Stadium
8/26/1989 Morse (Calif.) W 24 17 Aloha Stadium
9/6/1985 Marina (Calif.) T 9 9 Kaiser
9/8/1977 St. Paul (Calif.) L 6 14 Kaiser
9/13/1969 at Los Gatos (Calif.) W 49 19