The future is just as bright for No. 1 Crusaders

Saint Louis linebackers Nick Herbig (19), left, and Jordan Botelho lead the way in the 2020 recruiting list from Hawaii. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Since its inauguration in 2016, the HHSAA Open Division has known no other winner than Saint Louis.

The Crusaders made history by winning their third consecutive state title with a 38-17 rout over Mililani that was not as close as the scoreboard indicated.

Saint Louis (11-0) racked up 444 yards of total offense. Defenders were flying all over the field, never giving Trojan quarterback Dillon Gabriel room to breathe. It was clearly the most dominating win for the Crusaders during their current state title streak after two straight competitive games with Kahuku.

The scary part? Next year’s team could be even better.

The Crusaders will surely miss the presence, leadership and consistency of captains Faatui Tuitele, Arasi Mose, Junior Wily and Gino Quinones but project to return a core that contributed heavily to coach Cal Lee’s 18th total state crown.

The linebacker tandem of Nick Herbig and Jordan Botelho was absolutely menacing on Saturday night. Both are juniors.

Herbig sacked Gabriel four times and finished with five tackles for loss and six tackles. He also blocked a punt and returned it for a 5-yard touchdown.

“It feels amazing, man. Playing for coach Lee, he’s the greatest coach of all time. Just following in everybody’s footsteps and living up to the hype, it feels amazing, man. Unreal,” Herbig said. “I always dreamed of this — playing in front of everyone in the state championship, I’m just speechless. It feels amazing.”

Botelho racked up 2.5 tackles for loss to finish with six total tackles. His 74-yard scoop-and-score killed any hopes of a Mililani rally and extended the Saint Louis lead to 38-10 with 59 seconds left in the third quarter.

“It’s amazing. It’s just a blessing, honestly. We all deserve it, we all work hard and we’re all just blessed for that,” he said. “It’s great. “We work hard and we just come out and play hard and it feels great. I feel proud and I do this for my family and I’m just grateful for this.”

Both beamed about the other when asked, and the chemistry off the field seems as solid as it was against the Trojans.

“Nick, he’s great. He’s a baller. Me and him, I don’t know. It’s something special,” Botelho said. “That’s my boy and I love him. Just greatness.”

The feeling is mutual for Herbig, who sees the potential for the 2019 Crusaders to be special.

“Jordan’s my boy and he’s a baller and we got a lot of players coming back,” Herbig said. “We’re gonna be real good next year, too.”

Stanley McKenzie will return to hold it down for the defensive line, and ball hawk Kamo’i Latu should be back as well.

An underclassman Saint Louis fans can expect to emerge as a playmaker next year? Mason Tufaga, a backup linebacker for the 2018 team who produced when his number was called. The sophomore already holds offers from Hawaii, Utah and Oregon State. His father, Wes, is an assistant on the Crusaders’ coaching staff and played collegiately for the Utes. Mason’s older brother, Isaiah, recently finished his freshman season for the Beavers.

On offense, Jayden de Laura, another junior, passed for 251 yards on 19-of-30 passing. Although he struggled at times with two interceptions while getting sacked four times, he became the first starting quarterback to win a state title for Saint Louis as an underclassman since Timmy Chang in 1998. de Laura also returns his top target in Roman Wilson, who had seven receptions for 148 yards.

Lee says he hasn’t and will not give any thoughts toward next year’s team for the time being. But among the rising seniors, four in a row is attainable.

“I feel we’ll do good,” Wilson said. “I feel if we work hard and do the same things we’ve been doing, I think we’ll have a good season.”

Mililani quarterback Dillon Gabriel (3) was hurried by Saint Louis defensive lineman Faatui Tuitele (91), right, and linebacker Nicholas Herbig (19) during the first half. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.


  1. HSFootball November 25, 2018 8:45 am

    Let’s have all the advantages in our favor,then let’s beat up on the Public schools and then feel good about ourselves….Openly Blind…

  2. brotherhood November 25, 2018 8:51 am


    Feels damn good too! but we don’t mind beating up on private schools either…

  3. notes November 25, 2018 9:08 am

    agree. the rich get richer. 19 year old players. bending rules. recruiting and buying players with scholarships. the fact that St. Louis doesn’t win every year shows you how overrated as a coach cal lee is

  4. Mililani fan at heart November 25, 2018 9:11 am

    Mililani has alot of talent but bad coaching nuff said. Bye

  5. Realist808 November 25, 2018 9:45 am

    Still crying. Notes can you point out any 19 yr old players? You sound really bitter and a horrible football fan if you can’t give credit where credit is due. Season over. StL Champs. Back to the drawing board for every program.

  6. Kawikaekahi November 25, 2018 9:48 am

    Waaah, waaah, waaah. Every school has kids that aren’t from their district, and kids that are older than others. Stop crying. It’s high school sports. And the good players are getting noticed and recruited regardless. If you think Cal Lee is overrated, then your sports knowledge is garbage

  7. Screwu November 25, 2018 10:26 am

    @NOTES… stop crying. You sounds like a whiny little girl. THREE YEARS IN A ROW…. GO CRUSADERS…

  8. TrojansFan4Life November 25, 2018 10:47 am

    Great game! Definitely not a rout! Stl special teams got a great block, defense got a fluke fumball for a score. Trojans played tough, bought players won out this time. Refs need to crack down on the Stl receivers head butts after plays though, call it both ways refs!!

  9. Mike November 25, 2018 11:15 am

    At notes
    I believe if you’re 19 you cannot play in State tournaments. Punahou holds all late born kids back. OIA schools recruit too. Once Coach is done the balance of power will shift. Punahou will have JV football again. All the big kids will stay at Campbell. Farrington will keep the kids from Kalihi.

  10. Austin Chang November 25, 2018 11:27 am

    @mike tbh there are couples of kids in the private school that is 19 years old and get held back, but it not rule in the HHSSA Handbook, so pretty much they can be held back anytime, except high school.

  11. To the Hale November 25, 2018 11:46 am

    I thought if you turn 19 prior to aug or sept (not exactly sure on the date) then you would be ineligible for the playoffs or championship game?
    Pls clarify if someone knows the rule.

  12. Hawaii vs Mainland November 25, 2018 12:13 pm

    St Louis should start looking to schedule a preseason game with one or two of the nations best such as St John Bosco, Mater Dei, or IMG

  13. Mililani fan at heart November 25, 2018 12:15 pm

    Not crying or making excuses! St louis deserved it 100% hands down(Do not get me wrong)just saying our kids our better than that! Lol

  14. JC November 25, 2018 12:17 pm

    Every year same thing comes up about recruiting. Let’s keep it real if your son or daughter was good in sports what high school would you pick? Punahou or Farrington? St. Louis or Waianae? Cut the BS already. In Hawaii, private school education is way better than public school. And if the kid plays sports and can be at the private school for free, even better. Public school teachers are some of the best, hard working, innovative people in Hawaii. But they don’t get paid enough to stay. Nor do they get enough help from the state. Can’t blame the parent or kid for taking advantage of a great opportunity. So until state decides to put a higher priority on education, same thing will always happen.

  15. HiLifer November 25, 2018 12:53 pm

    notes…your whining and tear stained cheeks are both salty. go back to painting your toenails and spooning with your size XXXXL RRFL T-shirt.

  16. HiLifer November 25, 2018 12:56 pm

    ”sour” notes…your jealousy and salty tears make us happy. You peons of life are funny.

    RRFL….that term sounds like a prison sentence.


  17. Coach C November 25, 2018 1:28 pm

    OI A should walk away from the merge. Recruited team ONE has blow out the competition in this merge. Open merge was created because of last “blowouts”. Not working. Add Moanalua,Waipahu and Leileihua to OIA open and play IL H champs in the States. After all only Punahou was competitive against team ONE. Was there any blowouts in the open? Public cannot beat StAteside recruiting and $$$. Chapter 2. Recruiting tommo

  18. Coach C November 25, 2018 1:32 pm

    So true JC. So public and private school competitive sports should be seperated. Let private stay at Aloha and public at the neighbourhood schools.

  19. Coach C November 25, 2018 1:37 pm

    How good is StL? If they fielded a second Open team with their reserves, they could beat 80% of the OIA teams. Yes recruiting is everything.

  20. Rebel November 25, 2018 1:38 pm

    Mililani fan at heart…Can you elaborate on your 1st statement…?

  21. Coach C November 25, 2018 1:42 pm

    A few years ago Bishop Gorman was blowing out the Nevada public schools. Public schools were virtual hitting dummies for the Gorman program. When they stopped that, B G became national BS. When they played other national programs, yes loses.

  22. Mikey November 25, 2018 1:42 pm

    If you are honest you are a hater and if you are proud of a team comprised of all the best players in the state and know everything about football you are from STL. The recruiting done by OIA teams are from either players not in the STL pipeline or from second tier OIA programs. STL won fair and square but its because the players, coaches and facilities are simply better suited to turn out D1 college players every year. STL has out grown the state and they have no equal. You put the OIA all state team vs STL and STL would still win. So where do we go from here? Chris Chun sure as hell don’t know.

  23. notes November 25, 2018 1:45 pm

    team A can only get a team that lives in their local district. team B can recruit from anywhere in the state or even mainland and offer scholarships or “financial aid” to play for their team. team B can also hold their players back until they’re 19 like tua and have them play. now tell me that team B doesn’t have an unfair advantage over team A and that the state championships and prep bowls that team B won is legitimate. what a joke. So many people have so much hate in their hearts against public schools like kahuku that it’s sickening

  24. notes November 25, 2018 1:47 pm

    coach c is right. the only true state championship is the one where only public schools can play. let the ILH and their semi-pro teams play with each other or go mainland and be a traveling all star team like IMG academy if they want. boycott the ILH and kick them out of states. unless they stop recruiting, they should just play with each other. they can call their championship The Recruit Bowl

  25. HiLifer November 25, 2018 2:16 pm

    The only coaching “Coach C” has ever done was with the AYSO girls soccer team the “notes” played on. Team name was the Pink Butterflies I believe. Thanks .

  26. Winnaz November 25, 2018 2:48 pm

    There’s no need for Saint Louis coaching staff to recruit.. Their Championship Trophies take care of that department.

  27. Austin Chang November 25, 2018 3:28 pm

    Recruit means

    Upper Aged
    Time Management

  28. EasyGoing November 25, 2018 3:39 pm

    Mililani is the best OIA team this year. Call it what it is. They got dirty lickens. It wasn’t close at all. It was almost mercy rule time (except St. Louis decided to take their foot off the gas thank goodness).

    Okay now that’s over rest up prepare for next year. Good Luck to OIA. Mililani probably still on top of OIA.

  29. Coach C November 25, 2018 4:21 pm

    Stay tune. My report tomorrow in these blogs will be the Art of Catholic High School Football Recruiting. As a writer who bends the ears of public high school sports administrators, we will also touch on the decline of Public High School Football teams in the Honolulu District. The effects of recruiting. Stay tune and I do not answer to uneducated first barbs. Mahalo.

  30. Don't forget team C November 25, 2018 4:59 pm

    #22 notes
    I think that you forgot team C.
    Some of the top OIA teams would fall in as a team C.
    A combination of team A and team B.

  31. Get A Clue November 25, 2018 5:44 pm

    Notes: Get a clue…first Asher Pilanca was held back twice he’ll be 20 when he graduates next year from Mililani. Second, Gabriel was also held back. Numerous other players on Mililani who previously played in the ILH repeated the prior grade when transferring to the Trojans and more than 14 players have sought district exemptions to play at Mililani instead of Leleihua and Farrington. Mililani is guilty of the same things it accuses Punahou and St. Louis of doing but they just don’t have competent coaching!

  32. Spectator November 25, 2018 6:53 pm

    Here are some facts Coach Cal Lee has over 250 wins and now has 18 titles.
    Would you call this overrated?

    @notes; according to the HHSAA rules:
    Section 2 Article F states:
    No student shall be eligible to participate in HHSAA activities who have reached nineteen years of age prior to the first day of September of the school year in which such participation is intended.

    Here are some other facts
    Under Hawaii laws, all persons attending public school are required to attend the school in the geographic area in which they reside. HOWEVER, permission to attend another school may be granted by the Department.

  33. JC November 25, 2018 7:40 pm

    Notes coach c
    You think public schools can’t recruit? Lol cmon. Then how did mililani get Milton? And don’t compare Hawaii high school football to mainland. Way more counties and way easier to travel and play teams. How did Campbell get the fresh qb Hipa? He ain’t from ewa side. And how many kids from nanakuli go Waianae instead? You guys are jaded. Same kind of people got pissed off long time ago and that’s why we went to state tourney style play. Who here remembers the prep bowl? Who remembers St. Louis winning 13 state titles in a row? Lol. Mililani got a state title. Kahuku got a bunch. Why no change when they were winning all the time? Lol it is what it is. You wanna see whose the state champs? Don’t run away from St. Louis. It’s your kind of pc attitude that makes sure everyone gets participation trophy. You want to be champs then beat the champs.

  34. JC November 25, 2018 7:43 pm

    Coach c
    Catholic high school football recruiting????????? Well I think Damien and St. Francis didn’t get the memo…

  35. Education First November 25, 2018 7:51 pm

    Team A has an all time great coach. Kids from all over can attend the school if they can get in.

    Team B gets kids from Samoa, Utah, New Zealand, and many other places. Often, the kids are over 25, but since their birth certificates are lost, they claim to be 15-17. Team B tells everyone that they do not recruit since the kids from these far away places are family since some one on their block at one point in life said hello to a distant aunty. Team B also has motivational speakers such as anywaays, notes, and Coach C to inspire them to greatness.

    Who really has the advantage?

  36. ToppDoggs November 25, 2018 7:54 pm

    3 down 11 to go. Crusaders never stop!

  37. To da hale November 25, 2018 8:34 pm

    What happened to my post?

  38. Coach C November 25, 2018 9:33 pm

    #32 JC, St.Francis got the memo. They was killing D2. Except they was using an ineligible and got caught.

  39. notes November 25, 2018 9:36 pm

    education first aka mr punahou aka fake “notes” aka To da hale, idk. maybe it was deleted because people finally got sick of your army of kahuku hater user names

  40. T103 November 25, 2018 9:41 pm

    K lets just get this out in the open. Everyone saying that ILH schools recruits b/c it has to do w education and sports opportunity and $ to play for a particular private school. What would you call a student athlete playing for a different school that isn’t in their district then? Is it NOT considered recruiting just b/c its not a private school and no money played a role? If yes, then isn’t that just picking and choosing what u call “recruiting?”. Does recruiting only occur if a private school is involved and SOMEONE has to pay for the students tuition? So if for instance, private schools didn’t require payment for education (in a make believe scenario) they wouldn’t be considered recruiting student athletes right? b/c no money is needed to pay for any tuition per say. I’m just gonna say that it has to go across the board all the way from public to private, if a student athlete plays for another school that isn’t in their school district, for the purpose of sports then it’s recruitment period. You can’t just say that only ILH private schools recruit – b/c the student athlete who goes to a public school not in their district to play sport(s) chose to go to a diff school to play sports, thats what recruitment is….. whether they chose to go there or got asked to join the school to play sports, it is what it is. Anyone who says differently is mis-informed. Private schools admit they recruit, supporters of public schools should admit it too. A lot of posters have even admitted that certain schools have x amount of players from outside the district playing sports, quit being in denial. And for those who are die-hard “gottah go to the school in your school district no matter what”, if you had the opportunity to send your a child to a certain place for a possibility of a better future or opportunity, wouldn’t you take it? Kill your pride, drop it, let it go, do whats best for your child, and if you don’t want to, don’t be knocking those parents who do whatever it takes for their child to have the best shot at a better future.

  41. Coach C November 25, 2018 9:49 pm

    JC, are you following football? The rules have changed since Kahuku domination. The $3 million merge was had without a cent being paid. In order for the OIA to win the Open it will have to be a final championship game. No inbetween IL H match up. After next year StL. Undefeated record, I will petition HIADA and HHSAA to end the merge. It was done for the benefit of team ONE.

  42. notes November 25, 2018 10:09 pm

    post #36 and #37 is me,

    #3,23,24 and #40 is education first aka mr punahou posing as a kahuku fan, even after I outed him in my post 37 he still come out at post 40 as a imitating clown. hahahhaa! bipolar cockroach hiding in the shadows, why so scared to rep ur almamater punahou?

    i only post facts and positive vibes and repping kahuku RR4L all day. edufirst is one negative braddah.

    Congrats nephews at STL and Mills hope u all get exposure and looks for a college opportunity.

  43. JC November 25, 2018 10:44 pm

    Coach c
    Are u kidding me with the st. Francis example? The kid practiced with aiea JV in the summer. PRACTICED…. cmon that was weak. And that’s D1 not open. So what’s your excuse fresh qb Hipa. He ain’t from ewa. Darren Johnson recruited him from Windward side. And what about all the transfers Campbell got from Kapolei this past year? All If a sudden Campbell got that good? Really? You do know Rich Miano was recruiting when he was at Kaiser right? Don’t just put the spotlight on one school because their winning. Put it on ALL schools fair and square right? Lol

  44. JC November 25, 2018 10:47 pm

    Coach c
    Hmmmmmm so all of this was for 1 team. Well it can’t be an ILH team because they only get 1 team in the state tourney…. 1….

  45. JC November 25, 2018 11:02 pm

    Here’s a question for everyone. A family lives in a district where the public school is bad. A boy in the family plays a sport and is recruited to play for a coach in his district. The family talks it over and going to school there won’t be a big deal. The commute is not ideal but very much doable. The coach is at an excellent PUBLIC school. Now here’s the big question: Who is anyone outside of that family to them “no” “you can’t”? Even if it’s legal? Lol who?

  46. To da hale November 25, 2018 11:46 pm

    Sorry, but To da hale is just To da hale.

  47. notes November 26, 2018 12:08 am

    kids cant commute to kahuku from town its too far so we usually have kids that are family move in with relatives, AND just a few 1-3 every year, this year kahuku had zero out of district transfers.

    Mills is close enough for district exempt to attract all of central oahu so atleast 5 kids every year commute to mills. My neighbors, a junior boy and junior girl in wahiawa both applied for district exempt to mills lastyear, the girl got rejected and the boy started on defense this year. go figure!

    ILH, well they have no district boundaries so all 22 starters are technically fair game, aka recruit material. so ILH has way more advantages then OIA.

  48. Outsider05 November 26, 2018 1:34 am

    everyone calling for the OIA to stop playing the ILH are short sited. If that happens Punahou, STL will have no choice but to play full time national schedule (which we know they have the $ to do). If that happens what do you think will happen with every serious football player in the state? Even more will go to those schools! If you’re about that football life and have the choice of playing with top resources on a national stage or playing in what will become the “B” league what you going do? Without the limits of being tied to OIA/HHSAA they will expand their rosters, redshirts, etc. Recruiters will focus only on those two schools. Why watch all the schools when two schools have all the top talent. Think lolos! At least now, kids can make name for themselves competing against these schools. You want to take away that stage from them? Everyone knows what there getting into with Hawaii HS football from the start. You chose to participate or not. But, don’t complaint afterwards. You choose to fight Goliath, don’t cry when you shoot your shot and get your but kicked.

  49. to good times November 26, 2018 4:05 am

    I’m surprised that notes hasn’t mentioned anything about bad officiating. Or does that happen only when his team plays?
    Some fans want to see an end to the OIA ILH merger. If the admin and players from the OIA schools embrace the challenge who should be listened to? BTW. Does anyone know if attendance for games increased this year?

  50. to good times November 26, 2018 4:17 am

    Once upon a time there was a star high school football player who graduated and went on a one year church mission before playing college ball. When he began playing again the rival university complained. Too old. Too old.

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