Each week, a new challenge.
After battling CIF powerhouse Narbonne on Saturday, it will be hard to keep the crescendo alive. No. 1 Saint Louis is 5-0 (4-0 ILH) and coming off a 49-13 win over Punahou. Coach Cal Lee chats about Narbonne, which won the CIF 1A state championship in 2015, and is ranked No. 19 in California by MaxPreps.
Hawaii Prep World: What is your impression of Narbonne?
Cal Lee: Well, I know they’re a good football team, and when you travel, you travel with your best players. I know they lost last week, but on tape they’re big, physical and have a lot of speed. Their quarterback can run. Nowadays all the QBs can run. They spread you out and they run good patterns. They do a lot of stuff running the ball. They have a pretty good back. We expect a physical game.
HPW: Your defensive line will be tested. Saint Louis’ defense played well last week, especially against a mobile, strong quarterback (Stephen Barber).
Lee: Our D-line did a very nice job, active, keeping him in the pocket, containing him the best we could.
HPW: Faatui Tuitele played very well. Do you think Narbonne might have a plan for him?
Lee: I think they’re going to treat Tui like a regular player, not double team him. If they do, someone else has to step up. But they’re really big and physical, so it’s going to be a battle.
HPW: It feels like your team is getting tougher competition by the week even though the schedule could’ve had a lot more byes. I think tough competition is something you and your teams have thrived on.
Lee: You need competition week in week out and they’ll give us a good challenge, no question. You need that to keep your focus, you get used to playing every game tough, and that’s what happens when you get games. You can’t wait around. You do it because you need it.
HPW: How did this game come about?
Lee: They’d planned to come down and play Kahuku, but something happened with the Kahuku game and they called, and I’m happy they called. I think Kahuku is allowed only one preseason game, and they played (against Bingham in Las Vegas).
HPW: How is the overall health of your team?
Lee: We had about three or four were out. Chris Sykes (collarbone), Makoa Close, Roman Wilson, another good receiver. You just hope they can play, if not someone else steps in. It would be good to have everybody get back.
HPW: D-line used to be a thin position, but not anymore. The rest of your defense has also been strong.
Lee: Our linebackers have shown good leadership. Noa (Purcell), Isaiah Tufaga, Isaiah Taliulu, they love the game, play hard and the rest of the kids feed off these guys and it becomes a group kind of thing. We’re happy with their performances and we hope we can keep it up.
HPW: MaxPreps has Saint Louis at No. 14 in one poll and No. 24 in another. National rankings and Saint Louis have been basically a tradition.
Lee: They talked to me about it before the season, the guy from MaxPreps, but how can you talk about it when you haven’t played a game? We have to take care of our business and the rankings will be the rankings.
HPW: How is Coach Ron (Lee) and the staff feeling about the game?
Lee: Ron is normal, focusing in. It’s no use looking ahead or behind, just focus on what we have to do to have a chance to compete on Saturday.