Three weeks is a long time to wait to play a football game. But for the St. Louis Crusaders, the wait to take the field at Aloha Stadium is nearly over.
The last time the Crusaders took the field was October 21st, a 38-2 victory over Kamehameha to clinch the ILH DI title.
Tomorrow night, however, they’ll face a stiff challenge against the OIA DI runner-up Mililani Trojans, who narrowly lost Kahuku last weekend, in the Open Division State Championship semi finals.
“We had three weeks of rest and sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s bad,” said head coach Cal Lee. “I don’t think I like waiting three weeks to play a game, but we got everyone back and healthy and our players are anxious to get going.”
If there were any advantages of having his team sidelined for three weeks while the OIA DI schools sorted out their playoff picture, Lee said that he had a good chance to watch every team play.
In particular, the Trojans.
“We got to use it as an advantage. You don’t want to wait three weeks but it is what it was we got to see who we play,” Lee said. “(Mililani) got a good running game, offensive line. Offensively, we’re aware what they can do.”
Mililani head coach Rod York jokingly said that he hopes the Crusaders come out a little rusty in the first quarter after their time off.
"Hopefully, I hope that's true," York said of any rust St. Louis may have tomorrow night. "But it works both ways. They got the best head coach and veteran coaches. It’s not their first rodeo, you know what I mean?"
York added that playing such an emotional game last Saturday took a lot out of his team, and that playing on a short week has its challenges.
“(We’re) disappointed with the loss, but we’ve moved on," York said. "Definitely tough to prepare on a short week, but we’re looking forward to getting back out there. We got to take away the positives, improve on the negatives, play harder and coach better."
For as stout as St. Louis’ defense has been this season, allowing 104 points over eight games, they haven’t faced an offense as dynamic and explosive as Mililani’s, who put up 31 points against Kahuku.
To put that in perspective, the Red Raiders had only conceded 33 points all season prior to playing the Trojans.
“They were pretty impressive,” Lee said of Mililani’s performance against Kahuku. “It was a helluva good game. “It starts with the quarterback. He has the ball every down. He’s a hell of a thrower can run the ball, too. It's a concern for us. We got to be ready for everything they might throw at us.”
The "quarterback" Lee referred to is Mililani quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who has thrown for 2,590 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He is coming off a 300-yard, three touchdown, one interception performance against Kahuku last weekend.
But while Gabriel is a dual-threat quarterback Lee has to deal with, he still has Chevan Cordeiro taking the field for his football team.
“He can make all the throws, he’s bombing the ball, dropping dimes into their hands," York said of Cordeiro. "He moves well in the pocket, too.”
The University of Hawaii commit has stepped up to the starting role this season for St. Louis, and he's been terrific. Cordeiro has thrown for 2,189 yards with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. In his last performance against Kamehameha, Cordeiro threw for 266 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
The Crusaders will go to battle against the Trojans tomorrow night at Aloha Stadium following the other semi final between Kahuku vs. Waianae. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
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