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.