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IRON SHARPENS IRON: Hawaii high school football teams routinely take on the country’s best

Saint Louis’ matchup against nationally ranked Bishop Gorman headlines three Week 5 games against mainland teams

Tuesday, August 30, 2022 | By Nick Abramo

Three Hawaii high school football teams are squaring off against mainland foes this week.

And even sweeter for fans in the 808, four more Hawaii vs. mainland games — including three against the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 teams in the nation — will follow later this month.

On the down side, Hawaii teams are 0-4 against mainland opponents so far in 2022.

Undoubtedly, the game that headlines this week’s list is Saint Louis vs. Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas on Friday at the Mililani High field at 7 p.m.

On Tuesday, coach Ron Lee talked to ESPN Honolulu about the general readiness of his Crusaders (1-1) for this biggie against the Gaels (1-1), who are nationally ranked at No. 8 by MaxPreps, No. 11 by USA Today and No. 13 by High School Football America.

“We’ve been struggling,” he said. “Our first game, against Mililani, we couldn’t do anything right. We’ve corrected a lot of the mistakes and are a lot better now. Against Gorman, we’ll find out how far we’ve come. After playing Kapaa, we had two weeks off. We know we are going to be really tested. They (the Gaels) could have beaten Mater Dei (of Santa Ana, California, and ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today and High School Football America and No. 2 by MaxPreps). I watched that game (a 24-21 Monarchs win). They had their chances. We’re excited to play them.”

Photo by: Grant Shishido

In 2021, Bishop Gorman beat Saint Louis 42-21 in Las Vegas, and two years before that, the Crusaders dropped the Gaels 31-19 at Aloha Stadium.

Aiea And Farrington To Play In The Pacific Northwest

The two other Hawaii vs. mainland games this week are in the Pacific Northwest — Aiea plays Woodinville (Washington) on Thursday at 3 p.m. Hawaii time, and Farrington visits McMinnville (Oregon) on Friday at 4 p.m. Hawaii time.

For the Falcons of Woodinville, it’s the season opener against Na Alii (2-1).

“They were a good team last year,” Aiea coach Wendell Say said by phone from Seattle on Tuesday. “They’re always one of the top two teams in their division (4A, 1,300 students or more). So we expect nothing less than (Washington’s) best. I hear they lost a lot of kids. But the coach (Wayne Maxwell) flew in to watch our game against Kapaa (a 47-17 win). I don’t know, maybe that was just an excuse for him to come to Hawaii. We gave them three films of us. And they couldn’t give us any because they haven’t played a game.”

On the way to a practice session, Na Alii’s bus broke down.

“We were stranded for an hour, but there are actually a lot of alumni here and they rallied and found a middle school for us to practice at, brought us some Gatorade and snacks. That was really nice to see.”

Say’s squad has already made trips to see the campuses and football programs of the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University.

“It’s a good experience for our kids,” the coach said. “PLU has 25 players from Hawaii and Puget Sound has four.”

For the Grizzlies of McMinnville, the game against the Governors (1-2) is also the season opener.

“We have some film that we’ve seen of them,” Farrington coach Daniel Sanchez said Tuesday. “Our kids are really excited to be up here playing on the mainland. And we’re visiting six colleges (Pacific, Linfield, Willamette, Western Oregon, University of Oregon, and Oregon State), so it’s like a rough draft of what college life is like for them — to experience the dorms, what it’s like to have a meal plan and going to practice.”

The Govs will also attend Saturday’s Boise State at Oregon State game.

Not Just Any Mainland Foes

When Hawaii’s top programs look for an opponent on the continent, the coaches often are looking to play against the very best. And it’s not just the aforementioned Gaels.

Earlier this month, Mililani (2-1) hosted Mission Viejo (No. 29 Max Preps, No. 30 HSFA) and lost 34-21.

On Sept 16, the Trojans will be in California to play Mater Dei and, as previously noted, you can’t get any higher than the Monarchs are in two national polls.

On the same field one day later, Kahuku (2-0) takes on host St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.), and those Braves (1-0) are No. 1 in the MaxPreps rankings and No. 2 in the other two.

It should be noted that the defending state Open champion Red Raiders are No. 37 by MaxPreps and No. 91 by HSFA.

And that is not all. That same day, Kamehameha (0-1-1) will be in Henderson, Nevada, to play the Liberty Patriots (1-1), who are No. 97 in the HSFA rankings.

And then, on Sept. 30, making the party complete, Kahuku entertains the St. Frances Academy Panthers (1-0) of Baltimore who are No. 3 by MaxPreps and No. 4 in the other two national polls.

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