What team has traveled to the mainland more in the last four years to play a football game?
Mililani? The Trojans just played on the mainland for the very first time. Saint Louis? It hasn’t traveled away from the islands since Timmy Chang was its quarterback. Punahou? Close. It has played on the mainland in three of the last five years.
That honor belongs to the Radford Rams. Head coach Fred Salanoa takes his team to the state of Washington this week to face Mount Tahoma of Tacoma, Wash., on Friday night.
Radford arrived in Portland, Ore., Tuesday night and spent Wednesday touring the University of Oregon, Linfield and Pacific University. On Thursday, the Rams will take in a University of Washington practice and will attend Saturday’s UW/Sacramento State game at Husky Stadium before returning home Sunday.
These trips are important to Salanoa, who took his team to Oregon to play Crescent Valley in 2012 and California last year to face Francis Parker School in San Diego.
“It is really hard to pull off because there is a lot of money that is involved in it,” Salanoa said Wednesday. “It’s definitely a sacrifice for the families for one whole year that meet the payment deadlines that I put forth to come up with money for the trip. It’s very special for these young men. Once we step on that plane it’s a trip they should remember for the rest of their lives.”
Salanoa makes sure the kids represent the school to the best of their abilities. The team must travel in polo shirts and khaki pants and every day they have a different team shirt to wear while they are on the mainland. He also makes sure the kids are well-fed the entire time they are up there.
He estimated the trip costs $80,000 for the entire team and staff. He also said that he makes sure “no kid is left behind.”
“One thing that I pride myself on over the past three (trips) is we don’t leave anyone behind if it has to do with something financial,” Salanoa said. “We find a way to get every player on the plane and we figure out the money situation later.”
Radford was originally scheduled to play in the Emerald City Classic and had already made its travel arrangements when the organizers of the event called to say they didn’t have an opponent for the Rams to play.
Salanoa scrambled to find someone in the area and came upon Roosevelt alum Ricky Daley, who played football at the University of Hawaii and was an assistant coach at Waianae.
Daley was named head coach at Mount Tahoma (Wash.) in 2014 and played with Salanoa years ago as part of an all-star team of ex-football players representing Hawaii in the Japan-USA Bowl in Tokyo in 2005.
“I knew of (Daley) in high school and he was on that team and I got to play with him in Japan,” Salanoa said. “I called Ricky (to schedule the game) and he said he had already someone booked, but he ended up dropping that team so he could play us.”
Daley has undertaken a tough task of rebuilding a Thunderbirds program that went winless for two straight seasons before he took over. He won his opener last season but didn’t win another game, losing one to Lincoln by a score of 91-0.
The Rams are 4-0 this season with one victory coming via forfeit. In the three games it has played (one was called at halftime), Radford has outscored its opponents 144-6.
Last week, the Rams held out receivers Blaise Manabe and Thomas Reid who had minor injuries, but Salanoa expects everyone to suit up and play Friday.
“We held some guys out just to make sure that they stay healthy and have the opportunity to come up (to Washington) and play,” Salanoa said. “Yes, we’re coming up here to play a football game but football for everyone, including myself and NFL players, only lasts so long and education is what will carry them through.
“So that’s what we’ll try to do. We’re playing a football game but we’re also getting to different schools and seeing different facilities and talking to different coaches.”
Salanoa has a special tie to Washington. Current UW defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski was an assistant coach for two years at Eastern Washington while Salanoa played there in 1998 and ’99.