In 2008, Kenny Sanchez became an assistant coach at Bishop Gorman while brother Tony Sanchez was head coach.
The epic run of the Bishop Gorman Gaels was underway, and Kenny Sanchez eventually took the helm after Tony became head coach at UNLV. The Gaels have won a state title in each of of Sanchez’s four seasons as head coach, and it never gets easy.
Bishop Gorman (1-0) scheduled four out-of-state opponents to begin the season. It began last week with a 40-7 win over Utah 4A state champion Orem. Saint Louis and Bishop Gorman are meeting for the first time since ’12, when the Gaels won 52-40 during a period when Cal Lee was in between coaching the Crusaders.
Sanchez chatted with Hawaii Prep World about motivational fuel, his players and the business-like attitude of his team, at least until after the Aloha Football Classic is done.
HPW:: USA Today Super 25, MaxPreps Xcellent 25 and computer rankings have Bishop Gorman below Saint Louis. Do you ignore rankings or do you embrace them?
Sanchez: I always try to figure out what excites them, and they get excited about rankings. Anything that gets your kids excited, that gets them to play hard, why ignore it if it’s there? We still want to focus on playing one game at a time. We’re playing a team that’s ranked higher than us, so for us, that’s exciting. That’s what’s interesting to our fans. Our team gets more fired up for practices.
HPW:: It has to be tough considering preseason just barely started on the mainland.
Sanchez: It’s so early for rankings, but the kids like that.
HPW:: Watching footage of your team beat Orem over the weekend, your quarterback, Micah Bowens, reminds me of someone who made a big impact in Aloha Stadium recently. Fast, strong, big arm.
Sanchez: He’s still improving as we speak. We have a lot of season to go. He’s gotten a lot better since week one of last year. He’s a great player. If we’re going to be a really good team, he needs to have a big impact.
HPW:: How big is he?
Sanchez: He’s 6 foot, 200 pounds. He’s got really good speed and a really good arm. He started at DB as a sophomore. He’s one of the best athletes, if not the best on the team.
HPW:: Does he run track, too?
Sanchez: He did track his freshman and sophomore years.
HPW:: He reminds me of Khalil Tate of Arizona, who almost tied the game on the last play with that long run against Hawaii.
Sanchez: Micah is really gifted on his feet. If he doesn’t get rid of the ball right away, that’s a good comparison (to Tate). He runs a high 4.4, low 4.5 (in the 40-yard dash).
HPW:: Rome Odunze looks like a D-I college wide receiver right now. How big is he?
Sanchez: He’s 6-3, around 200 pounds. He runs a 10.7 100, second or third best in the state. He’s special, committed to Washington. He’s great runner and a high GPA kid, 3.6. She’s smart, durable, athletic and physical.
HPW:: Dahlin Mesoke (6-3, 225) is one of your defensive ends. What is it about him that’s key for your defense?
Sanchez: Dahlin’s got D-I offers. Was committed to BYU and decommitted after last year. He’s got good size, good strength.
(Note: Mesoke transferred from Liberty.)
HPW:: The other DE is Ishe Smith. What’s he like?
Sanchez: He’s a smaller kid, but has great speed. Probably only 5-9, 205, typical high-school sized kid, but extremely quick and fast.
HPW:: Who lines up inside?
Sanchez: We have Connor Fryar and Tefau Amataga rotating. They’re both big, strong and physical at nose tackle.
HPW:: What have you seen on tape about Saint Louis that pops out?
Sanchez: Their quarterback and receivers are standouts. Extremely good. I have a lot of respect for their quarterback. He’s extremely good on his feet and has a heck of an arm. All four receivers are good. The offensive line is big, strong, physical. We have our work cut out for us defensively. We have to be able to run the ball with those physical linebackers and their D-line. Coach Lee has done a great job.
HPW:: How did this game materialize?
Sanchez: It started at the Polynesian Classic. We talked to them because we have it here (in Las Vegas) this year. We have four, five kids playing in that, they they talked about us playing Saint Louis.
HPW:: Can you imagine sometime in the future, way down the road, starting as a coach at a different place. Maybe a small school in the islands, not much pub or hype, just coaching a small group of kids away from the spotlight?
Sanchez: That sounds like when I think of Hawaii, hanging out on the beach. A great day.
HPW:: But you love your job (as Dean of Discipline at Bishop Gorman).
Sanchez: It’s a grind, but it’s a good job and I still get to do what I dreamed of as a kid, to be in football as a career. I’m doing it as a coach.
HPW:: Last week, a team from Canada (Vincent Massey) arrived here just one day before their game. What’s the plan for you?
Sanchez: We leave Wednesday night at 6 p.m. and get in the hotel by 11 p.m. (Hawaii time). We’re bringing 64 kids, the whole varsity. Honestly, the biggest thing is that we have good practices before we leave. Yesterday (Monday), today (Tuesday) and Wednesday. That’s the most important thing. The game is won or lost already depending on the preparation before Wednesday.
HPW:: Will there be time for recreational activities?
Sanchez: The fun part is going out and playing in Aloha Stadium. What a historic place to play, being in Hawaii. Saturday is our free day. They can swim on the beach. The most fun is the game itself and playing a team like Saint Louis. We’ll fly back on Sunday. Come back to Monday practice and get ready for Servite (Calif.).