Absolutely the best ticket in town for upcoming high school football won’t be a ticket at all.
On Aug. 8, defending state champion Mililani hosts ILH power Saint Louis for a 7 p.m. matchup at John Kauinana Stadium. There will be no admission charge because the status of the contest is officially a scrimmage and not a game that will count on either teams’ record, according to Trojans coach Rod York and Oahu Interscholastic Association football coordinator Harold Tanaka.
Can you say, “Packed house!”
Maybe not. There won’t be kickoffs, and quarters will run eight minutes instead of 12, but York said that will pretty much be the only difference.
The Trojans return most of their offensive weaponry from a year ago, including quarterback McKenzie Milton (a Hawaii commit), running back Vavae Malepeai (Oregon) and wide receiver Kalakaua Timoteo (Hawaii), all seniors.
The Crusaders, who lost to eventual state runner-up Punahou by a touchdown, 35-28, in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship game last season, have huge collegiate quarterback prospect Tua Tagovailoa (15 FBS Division I offers) back for his junior season, along with prolific wide receiver Drew Kobayashi (Cal), tackle Nate Herbig (Stanford) and prized linebacker Jordan Iosefa (USC).
Stats of the teams’ offensive standouts from last fall can tell the tale of the tape for this scrimmage better than any prose:
>> Tagovailoa: 2,571 yards and 33 TDs passing; 553 yards and 8 TDs rushing.
>> Kobayashi: 664 yards and 9 TDs receiving.
>> Malepeai: 1,244 yards and 23 TDs rushing.
>> Milton: 3,339 yards and 35 TDs passing; 802 yards and 12 TDs rushing.
>> Timoteo: 988 yards and 11 TDs receiving.
Head coach Cal Lee, whose Saint Louis team lost to Mililani 63-47 in a nonleague game last fall, is back guiding the team for the second year in a row in his second incarnation as the Crusaders’ coach. The first go-round from 1982 to 2001 was legendary, when He led the team to one state title and 14 Oahu Prep Bowl championships.
It’s too bad for the fans that the meeting is a scrimmage and not a real game. And too bad for Mililani, too, which takes a hit financially. The school will not be allowed to collect gate receipts that it normally would have been able to do (in the case of OIA nonleague games) had an admission price been charged. The OIA splits the gate among all schools for regular-season contests.
Apparently, the OIA has a rule that allows teams to have only one nonleague (the league terms in “preseason”) game. Mililani’s nonleague game is against Liberty on Sept. 4 in Nevada.