Cal Lee felt the best he’s felt in weeks on Friday night.
Hawaii’s winningest high school football coach celebrated another ILH championship at Aloha Stadium as his Crusaders stepped up defensively to force six turnovers in a 28-14 win over No. 2 Punahou.
Lee had missed the last two games dealing with a bout of kidney stones. He is scheduled to undergo surgery next week, but toughed it out on the Saint Louis sideline on Friday night. Watching his defense pick off five passes by Punahou QB Nick Kapule, and Ronson Young score all four Saint Louis touchdowns left Lee feeling as good as ever.
“They energize you. They make you feel better,” Lee told Hawaii Prep World’s Christian Shimabuku. “They way they played tonight, you can’t help but feel better. It takes your mind off what is happening to your body.”
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was 10-for-19 for 192 yards and two touchdowns, put the game away with two outstanding throws. He threw a 37-yard completion to Chandler Washington-Villanueva on a dime down the sideline to convert a second-and-31, and then hit Young for a 31-yard TD pass on a ball that landed just short of the back of the end zone to give Young enough time to get a foot down to make it 28-14.
Tagovailoa, along with the rest of his teammates, said it was huge having coach back.
“It’s always good when you have your head coach back, especially when he’s doing good,” said Tagovailoa, who moved into second place on the state’s career passing list. “It’s good to continue that legacy of winning for him. It’s something special.”
Young, who accounted for 177 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns rushing and two more receiving, echoed Tagovailoa’s thoughts.
“It really means a lot (to have him back),” Young said. “Him on the sideline is just amazing to have. He’s always there to encourage us and keep us in check. It was honestly a blessing to have him back.”
Saint Louis repeated as ILH champions after Punahou had won the previous four league titles.
Both teams will compete in the Open Division of the state tournament that begins in two weeks. Lee is scheduled to undergo surgery next week but plans to be back for the next game.
“I’ll be fine,” Lee said. “I got the operation next weekend. I’ll be good as new.”