Q&A: Saint Louis coach Cal Lee on No. 4 Campbell

Cal Lee has won more games than any coach in Hawaii. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

One of life’s guarantees is that Cal Lee will be first on the bus.

Oh, there are occasions when he is in conversation after a game with old friends — coaches or former players now coaching — or is interviewed by media long enough. But on most nights, the Saint Louis coach makes a beeline to the yellow bus whether it’s outside Aloha Stadium or any other field.

He could drive to games and meet the team in the locker room or near the field.

“I go on the bus. I just want to make sure everything goes well, behave and all that. I’ve been doing that for years,” said Lee, now in his 27th season as a head coach. “I don’t know what it’s like going in a van or a car. Back and forth.”

No. 1 Saint Louis, ranked nationally by MaxPreps and USA Today, opened the Open Division regular season with a 34-6 win at Kapolei last Thursday. The Crusaders will travel to No. 4 Campbell on Friday. Three-time defending state champion Saint Louis has won 27 games in a row since losing to Punahou on Sept. 29, 2016.

Lee chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Tuesday.

HPW: Is there a part of you that thinks Campbell is a different team after losing its opener against Mililani?

Cal Lee: The loss to Mililani would make them prepare even better for the next game. They work on things that would help them down the road. I’m sure that’s their philosophy for the season ahead.

HPW: What’s your take on their personnel?

Cal Lee: I think they’ve got a quarterback (Blaine Hipa) who can run and throw the ball. Real skilled players on the receiving end. Defensively, they move around. They do a good job coaching them on defense. We’ve just got to be ready, prepare as well as we can and hope for the best.

HPW: Last year, Saint Louis won 55-7 against a Campbell team that was junior heavy.

Cal Lee: I kind of forget about all those games. I know we won and that’s the bottom line, but I know they’re stacked this year. Good running back, some new kids out there. Our main concern is what we do, how we prepare and how we practice. Doing the things we need to do to have some success.

HPW: Campbell’s receiving corps are game breakers, but they haven’t seen a defense like Saint Louis’ yet.

Cal Lee: I think for us, we’ve got to make sure we keep that quarterback in the pocket. Can’t have him running around and everyone understands that. Anybody who throws the ball, we have to keep him in the pocket we know where he’s at so we know we can put pressure in the pocket. That’s just overall.

HPW: Kapolei has a solid, fairly balanced offense, and Saint Louis stifled them.

Cal Lee: As a whole most of the guys, they all did their jobs and that’s basically what you have to do. You have your front seven playing the run. On the back end, they’ve got to have good coverage and we keep him in the pocket, then the chances of them completing passes are not big. We played decent last week, and a lot of the younger kids got to play, get their feet wet. We’re expecting a tough game no matter who we play. We’ve just go to prepare and be ready for what happens.

HPW: You’ve seen a bunch of your players get interviewed on video. Who surprises you on camera?

Cal Lee: I was impressed with Stanley (McKenzie). Connor Apo, he was fine. They all spoke well and very humble.

HPW: Your defensive line hasn’t missed a beat after losing big-time players to graduation.

Cal Lee: Stanley is playing well. I think from what I’ve seen in practice and the game last week, the D-line is doing well. It’s just a matter of keeping it up, working hard every day. I’m real happy with what’s happened so far.

HPW: Between you and your staff and Campbell head coach Darren Johnson, that’s a lot of coaching experience on the field Friday night.

Cal Lee: I’ve known DJ for a long time. He’s a good coach. He’s got a good staff. His defensive coordinator (Blaze Soares), I know him, he coached at UH. I know he’ll get them fired up.


  1. Waipio Termites August 22, 2019 12:44 pm

    Campbell vs Saint Louis game will be out of hand very quickly. Saint Louis is on another level this season, no other team in the state can compete with them or even stand a chance. real talk.

  2. ??? August 22, 2019 2:46 pm

    Everybody keep saying STL is on another level.
    The whole STATE knows that.
    My team would be on another level too if I could pick and choose my own players from around the State!
    When Cal Lee coaches and wins a championship at a public school where he can’t recruit, than and only than will he gain my respect as the best Hawaii H.S. coach!

  3. KalihiFB August 22, 2019 4:03 pm

    When Cal Lee left STL in 2001, he took a break then came back to assist Kalani football on defense for just a few years. Kalani’s record and program turned around quickly. No recruiting there.,,

    STL were in the state finals several times and won 2 more championships when Cal Lee left in 2001. It is more about coaching the players well than recruiting I say.

  4. Crusader for Life August 22, 2019 4:59 pm

    It DEFINITELY is about COACHING…Look at teams that have a lot of talent but not good coaching…they DON’T win championships!!!

  5. coconut wireless August 22, 2019 6:22 pm

    you mean like Kapolei?

  6. Coach C August 22, 2019 7:04 pm

    Well C4L, that and 22 assistant coaches and $3 million.

  7. ILH August 22, 2019 9:34 pm

    Doesn’t matter how many coaches at Saint Louis or any other school, it’s not about recruiting, the players wants to play for the greatest Hawaii High School football coach Cal Lee, great coaching staff at Saint Louis, Cal Lee don’t need to steal players from other areas, they want to play for him period. We understand you all jealous of Saint Louis, cause your team can’t win Championships like Cal Lee’s Crusade, SAINTS, SAINTS, SAINTS

  8. ??? August 22, 2019 10:44 pm

    @crusader for life & ILH
    You guys are right, it is his coaching and not the players!
    I guess Cal didn’t coach when St John Bosco beat the Crusaders 63-14 in 2014?
    Oh wait, that wasn’t his players he recruited? They were from the previous coach!
    Give coach York, DJ & Kuritsu STL talent and 90 something players and they would be winning multiple titles too.

  9. ??? August 22, 2019 10:50 pm

    Kalani was winning 1-2 games a year, win 3 and you turn that program around. Not too hard!
    Like I said earlier, if he really wanted a challenge he should have stayed till they won a championship but he knew it would NEVER happen.

  10. Cody August 23, 2019 8:18 am

    I’m new to Hawaii and I watch all the games on tv every week. I really like Campbell they are my favorite. The D IN THE back half flies around and hits. The WR is the best O player in the state

  11. CrusaderDad August 23, 2019 9:09 am

    ??? – if StL can get 90 players, the other teams, ILH/OiA have no excuse. I think all teams should take a page out of York’s playbook, have ties to the youth football teams, etc…i’d Like you to explain what your definition of recruiting is.
    Coach C – is $3m for the entire program?!?

  12. Kunia Love Birds August 23, 2019 10:25 am

    I think Coach C was eating eating hotdogs and saimin in the stands back in the day. If you look at how complex Saint Louis Offense is throwing the ball, its like watching a college team. You gonna stand there and tell me that its because of the kids and not the coaching ? Cmon Man. Ill tell you one thing, I give Rod York Credit, even though hes always in the final big games and loses, he never complains about other teams recruiting. The minute Coach Cal came back to Saint Louis , they became winners again, again, thats coaching. Coach Cal doesnt have to go out and recruit players, the players come to him, and thats a true statement. Its always the Kahuku on here that complaining and crying when they not winning. Cmon man , stand by your team winning or losing. You can see the bandwagon people at kahuku, when they winning, the crowd is big loud and talking SH…. Again only when they winning. When saint Louis wasnt winning for some of those years, the support from alumni was still behind them 100 % . I tell you whats the problem out there at kahuku, community too involved with whats going on , on the football field instead of letting coaches coach and admin do their jobs. Thats why kids are leaving and dont want to be apart of that BS.

  13. ??? August 23, 2019 11:08 am

    @kunia & stldad
    I never said it wasn’t the coaching, I said when you have your pick of the litter the players make coaching easy! Ron Lee is an offensive genius but he would NEVER win a state championship at Kalani. (Facts)
    If you don’t know the definition of recruiting you shouldn’t be on this post!

  14. ??? August 23, 2019 11:49 am

    You’re obviously not an alumni because your statement on 100% support from alumni when Cal was gone is 100% False! Alumni were taking their kids to other schools because they were upset at the admin, AD and every coach. Tengan, Ha’o, Wright, Arcenaux, that’s why STL almost shut down. Once Cal came back they started bringing their kids back and STL is thriving again. Know your facts!

  15. 808rep August 23, 2019 7:14 pm


    You can put Lombardi, Holtz, and Nick Saban at kalani and they still won’t win a state championship in their first couple years. Stop talking bubbles!!!! The lee brothers was just the coordinators at kalani. They did well to. Plus a lot of kids transferred to kalani n guess what??? people was saying they got recruited….lol

  16. ??? August 23, 2019 8:14 pm

    You can also put York, Kurisu & DJ at STL and they would win a title. What’s your point?

  17. 808rep August 23, 2019 10:32 pm


    I’m just saying because u cant make that argument about them coaching at kalani. But they did win a championship with kaiser….do anyone know if they had players from all over the island like rich miano when kaiser won the states?

    York, Kurisu, n johnson are good coaches but their impact isn’t as big as the lee bros.

  18. ??? August 24, 2019 3:44 pm

    Won at Kaiser after stealing player of the year Boyd Yap from Kamehameha who won championship the year before!

  19. ??? August 24, 2019 3:46 pm

    Impact not as big cause they cannot LEGALLY recruit.
    Let York Legally recruit and he will win more ships.

  20. 808rep August 24, 2019 7:42 pm

    Sound like you got cut from cal lee….lol what’s up with all the hate?

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