Cal Lee is gearing up for yet another year of coaching high school football, and he’s excited.
He’s also disappointed in a few things.
First, the positives:
Lee’s Crusaders will be playing against two mainland teams this fall.
On the weekend of Sept. 22-23, Saint Louis will entertain Narbonne (Los Angeles). The date and Oahu site will be determined.
“They went 14-1 last year and they had 11 D-I college players,” Lee said. “They’re not coming down here because they don’t have a team.”
Four weeks earlier, on Aug. 26, the Crusaders will play Taft (Watertown, Conn.) at Aloha Stadium.
“For us, that’s what we want, to play somebody else,” Lee added. “That how’s you get better.”
The Crusaders won Hawaii’s first Open Division state championship in 2016 after finishing as runners-up to Kahuku in 2015. It was the most recent of 16 top-tier championships for Lee — 14 Prep Bowl titles in 1983 and every year from 1986 through 1998, a Division I state championship in 1999 and the Open state title in 2016. Saint Louis also reigned in Hawaii during the years Lee took a break from the high school ranks — Division I crowns in 2002 (Delbert Tengan) and 2010 (Darnell Arceneaux).
Narbonne won the Los Angeles City Section Division I championship last year lost in the regional semifinals of the Division I-AA state tournament. One of Narbonne’s victories a year ago was against highly acclaimed Long Beach Poly, 25-13.
Taft went 4-5 in 2016. The school is one of many private “(college) prep” schools in New England, and its athletic teams play against other schools in various leagues under the guidance of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council. Typically, those schools do not compete against the area’s public high schools and other New England private high schools not under the same banner.
“They’re a pretty good team,” Lee said about Taft.
And now, Lee’s negatives:
The coach tried to set up a Sept. 2 game at Junipero Serra High (San Mateo, Calif.), the high school Tom Brady attended.
“They were excited for us to come and play,” Lee said. “But because of our league schedule, it’s looking like we can’t.”
Lee said he has until Friday to notify Junipero Serra of Saint Louis’ intentions, and he’s still seeing if it’s possible for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu to change its schedule to allow the Crusaders to travel.
This Junipero Serra team from San Mateo (NorCal, nickname is Padres) is not to be confused with the Junipero Serra team from Gardena, Calif., (SoCal, nickname is Cavaliers) scheduled to play Punahou in the Honor Bowl on Sept. 2 in San Diego.
“In the ILH, we may play the same team three or four times the way the schedule is set up,” Lee said. “You can’t get better by doing that. And it’s hard to schedule games against mainland teams in August because most of them don’t start that early. It would be better if we started the league season later so we could fit in more (nonleague/mainland) teams.
“It’s not good.”
Hawaii teams vs. mainland teams in 2017
Schedule may not be complete
>> Aug. 26: Taft (Watertown, Conn.) vs. Saint Louis, at Aloha Stadium
>> Sept. 1: Mililani at Clayton Valley Charter (Concord, Calif.)
>> Sept. 2: Punahou vs. Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif), in San Diego
>> Sept. 9: Kahuku vs. Bingham (South Jordan, Utah), in Las Vegas
>> Sept. 22 or 23: Narbonne (Los Angeles) vs. Saint Louis, at Oahu site and date TBD