We’re 16 minutes from kickoff (supposedly) here at Kahuku where the Red Raiders and Saint Louis Crusaders are warming up. The crowd’s warming up, too. Saint Louis fans in their navy-blue Crusader tees have packed the bleachers, shoulder to shoulder and okole to okole.
It is almost … electric. I’ll try to avoid the usual cliches before my buddy Dave Reardon busts me for such cardinal sins like … “At the end of the day …”
I hate that one, too. I even saw it WRITTEN in ESPN Mag this week. Imagine that, the phrase is so unoriginal that it’s made it to print. But speaking of ESPN Mag, reading the piece on Chik-Fil-A and its sponsorship of early-season showdowns in Atlanta got me thinking about tonight’s game at Carleton Weimer Field. Chik-Fil-A offers more money to the participating two teams than 22 bowl games do.
In addition, the two teams keep every cent of revenue and don’t share any of it with their respective conferences. Thought that’s big-time college football, Kahuku has endured much of the reverse for decades. Imagine if all of the Red Raiders’ OIA semifinal and championship games had been held in Kahuku. Imagine if preseason matchups — they always play an ILH powerhouse — had been here on the North Shore instead of Aloha Stadium all these years, or at least in alternating seasons.
Instead of making NOTHING and spending hundreds of dollars in bus rentals, Kahuku’s athletic department would’ve reaped badly needed cash from giant crowds like the one tonight. If tonight’s attendance is in the 4,000 level, that’s roughly $18,000 to $20,000 in pure cash, not to mention the gains for many of the teams that have set up concession stands.
You think any athletic department in the State of Hawaii can’t put $20,000 to use?
If you think I’m biased in some way toward these strapped athletic departments and their struggling athletic directors — many of whom are simply trying to avoid going into the red — maybe I am. But this game tonight is a practical way to help out at least one school, and fans everywhere are glad to see the game, whether in person or on statewide TV.
Corrections: In Saint Louis’ first nonconference game against Roosevelt, wide receiver Duke Bukoski actually lined up at quarterback, ran three times for 18 yards and scored a touchdown. His number, 18, is similar enough to starting quarterback Marcus Mariota’s (8) that I missed and messed up. Auwe!
Look for Bukoski, who has a pretty good arm, to do a few more interesting things out of the Wildcat this season. Maybe even tonight.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser