For Hilo head coach Kaeo Drummondo, his Vikings are knocking on the door of history. But Drummondo knows that just because they’re playing for a DI state title, doesn’t win they deserve to win it.
"I think prior to this year, Big Island was 0-19, I believe, in Division I states,” Drummondo said. “So to get that out of the way and get a state championship … it would be awesome. It would be awesome for the community and for the league.”
The Vikings earned their way to the DI state title game after taking apart Maui High in the state semi final, 26-7. Standing at 9-1 on the season, it’s been a resurgence year for Drummondo as he has brought Hilo football to the state’s biggest stage to take on Damien.
While Hilo will be playing at Aloha Stadium on Oahu this Saturday, Drummondo is sure that he’ll be able to hear some Hilo fans cheering on their school no matter how far they have to travel.
“The mood in the community has been great. The community is excited for it,” he said. “As far as the players go, they’re 14-17 (years old). You can’t tell on a daily basis. They’re doing the same things they normally do. So for us, it’s just a matter of preparing the best we can from now until we get here Friday so that when the moment comes on Saturday, it’s not too big.”
Living in the moment is something both Drummondo and Damien head coach Eddie Klaneski have preached this week. After all, this is the last football game for both team’s senior class.
“Everything’s upbeat, uptempo. We’re kinda focusing on our seniors this week because this is their last game. We want to make a lot of memories this week of practice, we’re going to have a lot of fun but also focus on the little things that are gonna help us win the game on Saturday,” Klaneski said.
Damien (10-3) was able to grind out a 13-10 victory on Kauai against Kauai High to advance to the DI state title game to take on Hilo. The battle-tested Monarchs will look to implement their gameplan on offense, utilizing dual-threat quarterback Marcus Faufata-Pedrina's skill-set.
But as for what Hilo brings to the table, Klaneski said it was obvious: Athleticism.
“They got some big guys up front … they got some really good defensive backs that can cover guys one-on-one, very aggressive -- they blitz a lot -- so it’s going to be a challenge for us,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that Hilo does that's gonna make it hard for us. But we just want to focus on the journey that we’ve had and continue to have fun throughout practice and enjoy practice and go from there.”
The DI state title game will take place this Saturday afternoon at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.
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