Campbell will be hosting a Phoenix team this fall in the finale of a home-and-home series.
Last season, the Sabers went to Phoenix, where they beat the Sandra Day O’Connor High 37-20.
“They’ve got some good, D-I caliber kids and a really good coaching staff,” Campbell coach Darren Johnson said about the Eagles.
Steve Casey, a former Virginia Tech quarterback who coaches O’Connor, is a longtime friend of Johnson.
When Johnson was a player at Arizona Western, Casey was the offensive coordinator. Then, in 1989, Johnson was the wide receivers coach at that school when Casey was the head coach.
“He used to have the passing records at Virginia Tech,” Johnson said. “He was a heckuva quarterback back in his day. I’ve learned a lot of things, a lot of good football from him — a good base of a running game. His junior college teams always had the leading rusher and his quarterback was always up there in stats.
“He cares about his athletes and ha taught me that it’s important to develop good relationships with your student-athletes, where they can come in and feel comfortable, an open-door policy. I enjoyed playing for the guy. He was real protective of his athletes and he was always there for you. If you needed discipline, he taught you that, too.”
Johnson’s Sabers went 8-5 a year ago, losing to Kahuku 27-7 in the first-round of the OIA playoffs and then beating Farrington 42-26 in the league’s third-place game to qualify for the Open Division state tournament. Campbell’s season then ended in a 24-2 loss to Mililani in the state semifinals.
Johnson continues to profess academics.
“The kids are working to understand what it takes now,” he said. “We definitely are doing it right in the classroom, and they’re doing academically what is asked of them. There are always going to be one or two who will test the waters, but the waters are not going to taste good if they don’t do what is asked of them.”
The game against O’Connor will be at the Campbell field at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5.
“We will host them for dinner and stuff,” Johnson said. “They took real good care of us last year and we’re going to make it a special trip for them, too. We want them to go home saying Hawaii is a great place to go.”
O’Connor went 4-6 in 2018 and ended the season on a high note, beating Mountain Ridge of Glendale, Ariz., 54-8, in a rivalry game.
The school is named after Sandra Day O’Connor, who is now 89. She is a retired Supreme Court justice and was the first woman to serve on the court. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and retired in 2006.