KAHUKU AND MILILANI SQUARE OFF AGAINST THE NATION’S TWO HIGHEST RANKED TEAMS LAST WEEKEND
Thursday, September 15, 2022 | By Nick Abramo
Kahuku and Mililani will make Hawaii high school football history this weekend by taking on two of the absolute best teams in the nation as ranked by multiple websites.
If either Hawaii squad wins, it will be legendary.
On Friday at 4 p.m. Hawaii time, the Trojans (4-1) take on Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California), which holds the No. 1 ranking in the USA Today Super 25 and the High School Football America 100.
Then on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., the Red Raiders (5-0) square off against St. John Bosco (Bellflower, California), the No. 1 team by MaxPreps.com.
Both games are at the St. John Bosco campus, 18 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
According to one fan with connections to both Hawaii schools, the Kahuku contingent will be in the stands Friday to watch the Trojans, and then on Saturday, the Mililani group will be there to catch the Red Raiders in action.
“It’s all about supporting the 808,” the fan said.
Winning is on Trojans coach Rod York’s mind, but that is not the only reason he’s bringing his team into hostile territory.
“It’s a learning experience any time you face teams ranked that high,” York told ESPNHonolulu.com on a phone call prior to Wednesday’s practice in Southern California. “It’s about what we will be learning about ourselves — which kids fight, which kids pull together and which kids have the understanding about executing the game plan.”
Ranked No. 3 in Hawaii by ScoringLive.com, Mililani already has experience playing a national power this season, losing at home to Mission Viejo (California) 34-21 on Aug. 12. The Diablos (3-1) are No. 46 in the HSFA 100.
“We want to win, but we really don’t put too much on the win or the loss,’ York continued. “For us, it’s about the experience. Sure, if we won, it would be just like if we had won the championship. It would be great. But we’re not going to feel like a failure if we don’t win. We put a lot on relationships built and going through the process and enjoying it. We want to be playing our best.”
Since 2000, the Trojans are 3-5 and the Red Raiders are 3-7 against mainland teams.
The most famous alumnus of the Mater Dei Monarchs (4-0) is quarterback Matt Leinart, who led USC to national championships in 2003 and 2004 and played in the NFL.
In the case of the St. John Bosco Braves (3-0), their most recognizable former football player is quarterback Josh Rosen, who is currently with the Cleveland Browns.
For Kahuku (MaxPreps’ No. 34, defending state Open Division champions and ranked No. 1 in the Aloha State by ScoringLive.com) Saturday’s game is a chance to augment its already sizable national stature.
In 2017, the Red Raiders were featured in an SI.com story, and a documentary about their remarkable run to the state title in 2021 is expected to hit the nationwide TV airwaves in the near future.
“(This game) means a lot,” Red Raiders coach Sterling Carvalho told ESPNHonolulu.com Thursday afternoon from his hotel in California. “It shows that we’re not afraid to play anyone, including the nation’s best. It also shows that our state as a whole plays really good, solid football.”
When asked about what this game means for Kahuku and its tight-knit North Shore fan base, junior receiver Manulele Ah You texted on Thursday, “It’s a chance to represent God, our family, our school, our community, and our state. This challenge is also not only for our 2022-2023 teams’ exposure, but for generations to come. Kahuku High School football will (continue to) be a team that college coaches can go to and recruit, giving many opportunities for our kids to go to college and make a better life for them and all generations to come.”