There could have been some rough going for the Campbell Sabers in chapter one of their 2019 football season.
Instead, the Sabers excelled precisely where questions about inexperience were looming. Sophomore quarterback Blaine Hipa rifled three touchdown passes and the young offensive line did not allow a sack during a tri-scrimmage with Damien and Kaimuki on Thursday night in Ewa Beach.
It was an especially memorable night for first-year Sabers offensive coordinator Jaymason Lee. He got his first taste of play-calling for the team in black and orange. Another former Castle standout, Blaze Soares, got his first experience as Campbell’s defensive coordinator.
Lee played at Alabama A&M, where he once threw for 430 yards and two touchdowns on a torn ACL against Prairie View A&M. Five years later, his passing is limited to occasional scout quarterback work against Campbell’s talented defensive secondary. He can still fire bullets, just as Soares sometimes roams sideline to sideline as he coaches the defensive unit at practice.
“I try to give them a good look. Shoot, they don’t touch me. I just don’t want our quarterbacks getting injured. It just helps us all the way around, kind of show Blaine certain things as far as play action, and then he’ll go out there and imitate,” Lee said.
The Sabers looked as explosive as anticipated. St. Francis transfer Bubbah Aina-Chaves scored on a pair of 80-yard touchdown runs, showing the same burst and cutting ability he demonstrated at St. Francis. Titus Mokiao-Atimalala was scintillating on a pair of 80-yard TD catches, breaking out of the flat and outrunning three defenders on the latter score. He also ran for a 3-yard TD.
One of their two-way ironmen, Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala, scored on a 54-yard TD connection with Hipa. All in all, Hipa continued to look impressive in the pocket, coming off a successful summer.
“I like that he’s taking what the defense is giving him,” Lee said of Hipa. “He can throw the long ball all day, but as long as he takes what they give him, his check-downs, we’ll be all right because these guys can turn a five-yard completion into an 80-yard touchdown.”
Lee is still relatively young. The competitive spirit at practice is a win-win for everyone. And the talented secondary, from safety Poki‘i Adkins-Kupukaa to Campbell’s returning cornerbacks, makes for a good matchup. He gives them the treatment, trying to bait them. It isn’t easy.
“I don’t know, honestly. They’re all pretty even. They do great things. I bait one and I try to bait another guy. They’re getting used to me, but I don’t throw picks,” Lee said. “Actually, I threw one to Kaipo (Enos-Ho), one time. He baited me. Everyone celebrates when they pick me, but it’s good. It becomes a competition out there. We’re competing with each other all day, every day.”
Campbell head coach Darren Johnson was relieved and optimistic.
“I’m happy that nobody got seriously hurt on any of the teams. I’m happy with the O-line. They got better as we went along. I saw their progress as they went along,” he said.
Running back Sky Lactaoen rested as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Lactaoen received a scholarship offer from Navy earlier in the day.
The Sabers will host defending BIIF Division I champion Hilo on Friday in another scrimmage.