Mililani and Saint Louis tried to get a real game in the works for this football season, but a scrimmage is the best they could do. It will be Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Trojans’ John Kauinana Stadium.
There’s an Oahu Interscholastic Association rule stating that all league football teams can only play one regular-season, nonleague game. Mililani already had Liberty of Las Vegas on the schedule for Sept. 4 in Nevada.
And even though the Saint Louis at Mililani matchup, which would have been a huge draw at the gate (there will be no charge for admission), is only a scrimmage, all eyes statewide will be on what goes down. The Crusaders are the No. 2-ranked team in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s preseason poll and the Trojans are the defending state Division I champs. Let’s just say that the Star-Advertiser’s countdown of Top 10 teams isn’t complete yet. Preview stories on teams ranked No. 10 through No. 2 have run in the newspaper the past nine days, with No. 1 scheduled to run Thursday morning. It’s not a stretch to believe that the Trojans will be that team.
Don’t expect to get a clear-cut winner or loser out of the Saturday scrimmage. No score will be posted on the scoreboard. The starters will play the first quarter and the second-stringers will play the second quarter. The second half will be played with whoever the coaches agree on at the time — starters or subs. There will be no kickoffs or special teams play, but the official time will run with 10-minute quarters.
“We want to get everyone in to play,” Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said. “We want to find out before the season starts what these guys can do.”
Lee likes the fact that his team has such a tough test this early in the season.
“Basically, everyone wants to scrimmage against quality guys,” Lee said. “That’s how you find out what you have. Mililani has been the best team in the state the last couple of years (the Trojans were state runner-ups two year ago). We want to see how we stack up against a team with that kind of reputation. The score is not important. It’s not indicative of what would happen in a real game.”
Tasked with trying to stop quarterback McKenzie Milton and the potent Mililani offense, Lee succinctly said, “We have to stop the run first. They’ve got Vavae Malepeai at running back and McKenzie can run too, so stopping that first is a must. After that, with the great passing game they have, it’s pick your poison time.”
Mililani coach Rod York wanted to get Saint Louis on the schedule for a real game, like last year when the Trojans beat the Crusaders 63-47 an an early season nonleague game.
“We did everything to give the fans what they want,” he said. “Unfortunately, it couldn’t be done.”
On Friday at 6 p.m., one night before the scrimmage against Saint Louis, Mililani will scrimmage against Fagaitua, the American Samoan champions who scrimmaged Campbell last week and are also scheduled to scrimmage the Crusaders on Aug. 22 at a site to be determined.
“We are still evaluating our team and looking for our leaders,” York said. “Hopefully playing the Samoa champ and the Crusaders will help us.”
York faces the same kind of dilemma Lee is up against on defense. The Trojans expect to have their hands full against Saint Louis dual-threat quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and receiver Drew Kobayashi.
The most telling aspect of the game, though, is how the Crusaders’ defense — which appears to be much improved over a year ago — stacks up against Milton, Malepeai and dangerous receiver Kalakaua Timoteo.
Mililani has been extra busy in the preseason and is coming off of scrimmages against Leilehua, Kahuku and Kamehameha in consecutive days last week, three teams in the preseason Top 10.
In other interesting matchups Friday, No. 7 Campbell visits No. 4 Kakuku in a regular-season, nonleague game. Also, No. 8 Kaiser travels to unranked Kapolei, No. 5 Kamehameha heads west to face unranked Waianae, and Castle renews its Windward rivalry with Kailua.
No. 3 Punahou at No. 9 Leilehua is another highlight of the Saturday night schedule.
Also on Saturday, the annual Father Bray Classic kicks off at Aloha Stadium, with Kalani vs. Pac-Five at 4 p.m., followed by Kamehameha-Maui vs. ‘Iolani at 7.
In all, there are nine games or scrimmages with Oahu teams involved on Friday and nine more on Saturday.
There are three games on the Neighbor Islands involving teams not from Oahu — a team from Alberta plays at King Kekaulike on Friday. On Saturday, Keaau plays Lahainaluna in the Lunas’ new stadium at 7 p.m., and Maui visits Kealakehe at 7 p.m.
The schedule of gmaes on Oahu follows:
Friday, Aug. 7
>> Damien at Aiea, 6 p.m.
>> Fagaitua (American Samoa) at Mililani, 6 p.m. (scrimmage only)
>> Kaimuki at Waimea, 7 p.m.
>> Campbell at Kahuku, 7:30 p.m.
>> Kaiser at Kapolei, 7:30 p.m.
>> Kamehameha at Waianae, 7:30 p.m.
>> Castle at Kailua, 7:30 p.m.
>> Anuenue vs. St. Francis, 7:30 p.m., Castle High field
>> McKinley at Roosevelt, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 8
>> Pearl City at Waipahu, 10 a.m. (scrimmage only)
>> Waiakea at Moanalua, 3 p.m.
>> Kalani vs. Pac-Five, 4 p.m., Aloha Stadium
>> Kamehameha-Hawaii vs. Kalaheo, 6 p.m., Kailua High field
>> Saint Louis at Mililani, 7 p.m. (scrimmage only)
>> Waialua at Honokaa, 7 p.m.
>> Kamehameha-Maui vs. ‘Iolani, 7 p.m., Aloha Stadium
>> Kapaa vs. Nanakuli, 7 p.m., Kapolei High field
>> Punahou at Leilehua, 7:30 p.m.