Aug. 12—In all his years coaching high school football, Mission Viejo (Calif.) head coach Chad Johnson has always enjoyed the quest for excellence on the gridiron.
Johnson—whose rise up the ranks includes several seasons as offensive coordinator at St. John Bosco—relishes the penultimate moments of a working vacation almost as much. He brought his wife to Oahu for their honeymoon, and his team has been on Maui many times to play Baldwin. This time Oahu, and the Mililani Trojans, are among the preferred destinations for this foodie.
"I'm kind of feeling like coconut shrimp. Best I ever had was on the North Shore. Banzai (Sushi Bar in Haleiwa ) is amazing. I might sneak over there on Saturday, " Johnson said on Tuesday night.
This week, the Diablos are in Waikiki, practicing at Kapiolani Park in preparation for Hawaii's No. 2-ranked team. The two powerhouse programs clash on Friday night at John Kauinana Stadium.
"They are long, athletic, hard-hitting and well coached, " Johnson said, noting that the Trojans compare well to another CIF program, San Clemente.
Mililani is coming off a 28-7 win over Saint Louis. The Trojans' tough nonconference schedule bumps up this weekend.
"They haven't played or scrimmaged yet. We don't really know much about them. We've got some film from last year. It seems they've got some guys, " Mililani coach Rod York said. "I don't think everybody knows how good they are. They're very talented and have a balanced attack. They're big. Their linemen are huge."
The Diablos are ranked No. 30 in the MaxPreps preseason rankings. Sixteen starters return this fall, led by third-year starter Kadin Semonza at quarterback. The 6-foot, 185-pound senior passed for 2, 532 yards and 25 touchdowns with just eight picks last fall. His completion percentage was 69 %. Semonza also rushed 64 times for 140 yards with four TDs.
Fourth-year starting wide receiver Mikey Williams is a top target for Semonza and several prominent college teams, including Michigan. Williams, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound speedster, had 66 catches for 843 yards and nine TDs.
Offensive lineman Joseph Mendez is a third-year starter as well.
"If our offensive line is able to hold up, we've got four new guys. Two of them have some experience, " said Johnson, a former O-lineman.
How serious are the visitors from SoCal ? Bed check for players is 10 p.m. and not a minute later. Their school year begins next week, and the team has a bye until hosting powerhouse Servite on Aug. 26.
The national rankings are a source of pride rather than a distraction.
"We're super excited, obviously. MaxPreps starts off with how you did last year, and we got our tails kicked (in the state championships ), " Johnson said.
The 2021 Diablos finished 9-2, losing to Servite in Week 2 before embarking on an eight-game win streak. That included three wins in three South Coast League games—with a 45-0 wipeout of San Clemente.
After averaging 37 points per game, the Diablos lost in a state playoff to Centennial, 62-16.
Playing a tough opponent in Hawaii is part of the blueprint for a stronger season.
"I was at Bosco for years and kind of prided ourselves on traveling and playing league champions. We won a lot and lost some games, " Johnson said. "I think we're a top-four team in the CIF and Mililani is a top-two here. We want to play the best, like when (Bosco ) played Saint Louis when they had Tua (Tagovailoa )."
Like Mililani, Mission Viejo is a public school, albeit quite an established one, with prime standards.
"We go one game at a time. Playing for a national championship, that's our goal, but one game at a time. We work on development and want to get our guys to buy in. Then the wins come, " Johnson said. "As a public school, we get better with a loyal local kid instead of doing what private schools do, buying mercenaries. We have that in our Trinity League."
Success means the Diablos attract talent from outside their district. That also attracts some criticism from opposing quarters.
"Any time you're good, you're going to have that, " Johnson said.
With that, the coach headed out to dinner to get some coconut shrimp at an unnamed Waikiki eatery. The photo showed an appetizing basket of jumbo shrimp.
"Solid, " he said. "But not Banzai. Now I may have to go there on Saturday."
Mililani's defense recorded 13 sacks last weekend, while the offense showed diversity. In his first start, quarterback Kini McMillan threw TD passes to four different receivers.
"We went up to play Clayton Valley some years ago (2017 ) and they were No. 56 in the country. We knew they won Division I in the CIF the previous year, " York said.
Mililani won that game 49-30.
Today's games Kailua at No. 5 Campbell, 7 :30 p.m.
The Surfriders (0-0-1 ) rolled up 332 total yards against Leilehua last week, but saw a 14-point lead dissipate in a 27-all tie. Maa Fonoti passed for 227 yards and rushed for 57, compiling three total TDs.
The Sabers (0-0 ) may have the most interesting offense that hasn't taken the field for a game just yet. QB Jaron-Keawe Sagapolutele was spectacular as the starter for Saint Louis II (JV ) last year with 1, 730 yards and 21 TD passes in five games. Now a sophomore, his arrival in—and return to—Ewa Beach also attracted wide receiver Mason Muaau, another Saint Louis transfer. Muaau committed to Colorado State in late June.
Radford at No. 6 'Iolani, 3 :15 p.m.
The Rams (0-0 ) went 6-3 in OIA D-II last season and are back in D-I this fall. Game one is a litmus test, all right, with the defending D-I state champions.
" 'Iolani football is always well coached and well prepared by coach (Wendell ) Look and his staff, " Radford coach Fred Salanoa said. "We are going into this preseason game looking to get good, fast, live reps while still evaluating positions on our team as we prepare for the grind of a full D-I schedule."
'Iolani (1-0 ) opened its schedule with a 62-27 win at Kaiser last week.
"Radford will be a good, physical test for us. They have size and athleticism. The running back (Michael Hayslett ) is a big-play type of runner. Very elusive and physical, " Look said.
Farrington at No. 7 Kapolei, 7 :30 p.m.
Neither team was tested in Week 1 as the Governors (1-0 ) routed Waialua 42-7 and the Hurricanes (1-0 ) dispatched Kealakehe 70-0. For Farrington, a move down from the Open Division to D-I means this game will be its last against an Open team in'22.
Waialua was Farrington's first D-II opponent since 2015, when the Govs won at 'Iolani 52-8 behind Challen Faamatau's 280 yards from scrimmage.
The'Canes got a stellar performance at QB from Tama Amisone (234 yards, seven TD passes ) against the Waveriders.
Waipahu at Leilehua, 7 :30 p.m.
The Marauders won the D-I state title in 2018 and seem to have visions of moving up eventually. They have two OIA Open teams scheduled in Leilehua and Campbell, both road games, before beginning their D-I slate on Aug. 26 against Radford.
Leilehua (0-0-1 ) and Waipahu (0-0 ) last met in 2019, a 13-7 win by the Mules.
Last week, QB Pono Arindain rallied Leilehua from a 14-point deficit to tie Kailua 27-all.
"(Leilehua ) coach Mark Kurisu and I go back a long time from when I was a young assistant under Sean Saturnio and he under Nolan Tokuda. Our programs have always been about discipline, respect and integrity, " Waipahu coach Bryson Carvalho said. "Last week's game against Kailua, they showed grit and determination. The adjustments they made and have a chance to win shows a team's character and how well they are coached."
Nanakuli vs. Maui at War Memorial, 7 p.m.
The Golden Hawks (0-0 ) and Sabers (0-0 ) have not met since 1980, when Nanakuli edged Maui 28-21 behind running back Alvin Aiona's 257 rushing yards.
Saturday's games No. 3 Saint Louis at Kapaa, 1 p.m.
The Crusaders (0-1 ) couldn't find nonconference games on Oahu, so a trip to the Garden Island is up next. Kekahi Graham and 'Oa Kamakawiwo 'ole split time at QB, but WR Titan Lacaden had a stout performance with seven receptions for 93 yards and a TD in the loss to Mililani.
Defending D-II state champion Kapaa (0-1 ) is reeling from a 41-17 loss at Aiea last week.
Kalani at Keaau, 5 p.m.
Longtime coach Scott Melemai retired, opening a path for new head coach Radford Dudoit. This will be the first meeting between the two football teams.
The Flacons were 6-2 in OIA D-II last season. Coach Dudoit has solid personnel at wide receiver and defensive back, but overall, Kalani has just three returning starters. Kynan McCartney, who played in one game last season, is this year's starting QB.
[3 :26 PM ] Leaving vball at iolani now. we got thunderrrr practice. might come back tonight to the tourney.
Warren (Downey, Calif.) at No. 8 Kamehameha, 6 p.m.
Momentum changes, but the Kamehameha Warriors (0-1 ) are remaining steady despite a 49-0 loss to No. 1 Kahuku last weekend. Finding a way to move the ball against premier defenses wasn't difficult last year with Noah Bartley at RB. One silver lining : Kahuku had "only " three sacks on Kamehameha QB Kealii Ah Yat.
Warren (0-0 ) was dominant in'21, outscoring foes by an average score of 42-11. The Bears finished 8-1 after a 42-35 loss to Corona del Mar in the postseason.
No. 4 Punahou at Moanalua, 6 :30 p.m.
Na Menehune (0-0 ) are making the most of their nonconference schedule with a slate of ILH foes : Punahou (0-0 ), Damien (Aug. 19 ) and Kamehameha (Aug. 26 ). The defensive front seven, considered one of Moanalua's strengths by coach Vince Nihipali, will get a big test against Punahou QB John-Keawe Sagapolutele.
The teams have not met since 2017, when the visiting Buffanblu won 35-7.
Damien at Pearl City, 6 :30 p.m.
Both teams are coming off season-opening wins. The Monarchs trounced Kalaheo 53-0 behind QB AJ Tuifua's 264 yards and four TD passes. The Chargers returned from Vidinha Stadium with a 33-22 victory over Kauai. Seven Chargers hauled in at least one pass from QB Trey Dacoscos.
Pac-Five vs. Kalaheo at Kailua, 6 p.m.
The Mustangs (0-1 ) hope to bounce back from last week's shutout loss to D-I Damien. They were 1-7 last year in OIA D-II and have lost six games in a row.
The Wolfpack (1-0 ) have momentum following a 36-0 win over Pahoa last week. Blade Kaululaau rushed for three TDs in the victory. After this, Pac-Five does not have another scheduled game until the ILH D-II opener on Sept. 16 against Kamehameha I-AA.
Correction : Warren (Calif.) is playing Kamehameha at 6 p.m. on Saturday and the Kalani /Keaau game is at 5 p.m. on Saturday. A different day and time was listed in an earlier version of this story.