The Saint Louis Crusaders looked very much like the No. 12 team in the nation Friday night. Can they inch up farther than that? There’s plenty of time to try, with the whole season ahead.
In a season-opening 69-6 OIA-ILH alliance victory over Waianae at Aloha Stadium, Saint Louis did just about everything right.
But not everything, according to coach Cal Lee.
“I don’t know about the score, but for the first game, we made some mistakes,” he said. “We’re not perfect. When we tell them we want to have a ‘safe’ on punts that means we’re not rushing the kicker. That cost us six points. A 15-yard penalty led to the touchdown. Things like that, but you learn from it. We make mistakes.”
It was also a long-awaited debut performance by the player everybody has been itching to see. Junior Jayden de Laura, who went to Damien as a freshman and sat his sophomore season, lived up to the billing, finishing with three touchdown passes and a rushing TD and completing nine of 12 passes for 234 yards.
Another guy who entered the Crusaders’ spotlight is Robbie Paikai, a senior running back who stands just 5-foot-5 and weights 166 pounds. He ran for 74 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
“He’s got that gift of being very shifty with a good sense of making his moves,” Lee said about Paikai. “He’s a pretty good athlete. I didn’t teach him how to wiggle. He learned it all by himself. We like him. He can take it to the house and that kind of thing.”
And what did Lee think about de Laura’s night?
“For the first game, I thought he did fairly well,” he said, smirking.
Paikai gave his teammate big props.
“That guy is an athlete, I tell you,” he said about de Laura. “He never played for two years. He was hungry and my man got to play and shine tonight and I’m really proud of him. It’s like he’s a natural. It’s like he’s been playing. I’m blessed to block for him and run as a running back for him.”
The Crusaders (1-0, 1-0 ILH Open) host Narbonne, the Division I-A champion from Harbor City, Calif., at Aloha Stadium next Friday. That same night, Waianae (0-2, 0-0 OIA Open) hosts Kahuku.