The preseason MaxPreps Top 100 high school football rankings were released on Tuesday with the Saint Louis Crusaders selected as Hawaii’s only representative.
The four time defending Hawaii High School Athletic Association champions came in at number 30 despite having not played a game since the end of the 2019 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We haven’t played since 2019 so for them to rank us that high, I’m shocked,” head coach Ron Lee told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “We lost a lot of players after the 2019 season and we didn’t have football this past season, just scrimmages. So we got to see a lot of the young guys that are coming up. We’re very young. Especially on defense.”
The Crusaders, who feature quarterback AJ Bianco, and offensive linemen La’akea Kapoi and Jonah Savaiinaea who are all members of the class of 2022 with multiple FBS scholarship offers are currently scheduled to open their 2021 season against Campbell on August 13, however it is possible that Saint Louis could find an opponent for the season opening weekend of August 5.
“The culture here is solid. After the 2019 season we sent 10 out of the 11 players went to division-1 on defense. This year I think we have one division-1 player right bow that college offers on defense,” said Lee who is entering his first season as head coach. The longtime offensive coordinator takes over for his brother Cal Lee, who stepped down but remains as defensive coordinator. “On offense, we’re pretty good. We possibly could have six or seven offensive linemen on division-1 scholarship. That’s unheard of. Tremendous competition at quarterback, receivers that we have are young that really haven’t played a whole lot so I’m excited to see what these guys can do when we start going with live bullets.”
The most high profile game on the Saint Louis schedule in 2021 will come on August 20, when the Crusaders travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to face former multiple time national champion Bishop Gorman which will serve as the first game of a home and home series that was agreed and is expected to be finalized this week.
“We need that. We need to play somebody early if their caliber. That will get us ready for the season. We have a tough schedule as it is, but with Bishop Gorman, we want to play a couple of teams from the mainland of that caliber. That helps us get better and the kids love that. They want to play teams like that.”
The Crusaders and Gaels met two seasons ago with Saint Louis winning, 31-19 at Aloha Stadium. Prior to that game, the Gaels won in 2012 at Aloha Stadium, 52-40.