Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Friday, July 6, 2001

too good to pass on

ALL eyes were on it, as the ball somersaulted through the California night. End over end it went, and the evening's emotions with it. All of the game's speed and power and collision and calculation had come down to this: a ball in the night.

But the kick hooked, too short and too wide, bouncing a couple of times before finally settling, gently, harmlessly, on the Edison Field grass. There were 33 seconds left. But it was over. As glorious as it had been, it was finally over. It was time to breathe again, and 23,900 people exhaled. Everyone in attendance was still tingling.

"I have never seen a game like that," one game official said to his pinstriped partner as they hurried off the field. "Incredible."

On Sept. 23, De La Salle High School of Concord, Calif., had held on to beat Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif., 31-28 -- De La Salle's 103rd football win in a row.

The game had it all. A roaring comeback from a 21-0 deficit. A fourth down conversion for a touchdown. A crucial kick in the final seconds. A dramatic interception to turn the tide.

Before, during, after, there was interest from across the country. It was magic.

Both teams had been perennial powerhouses. Their lineups were filled with stars and scholarships. De La Salle was considered the nation's No. 1 team. One ruled the northern part of California. The other the south. But then they did something unusual. Something remarkable. Something wonderful.

They decided to play each other.

Great games and marquee matchups are all too rare in these days of strategic scheduling. The next Thrilla in Manilla? The next Game of the Century? Most prefer to pass on the question and order up another round of Middle Tennessee State.

Instead, Mater Dei and De La Salle thought they had more to gain by playing in a big game. So they scheduled a few.

And on Sept. 23, they gave the world a gift.

"It was so exciting," De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur told Varsity Online.

"That was just an awesome high school football game," Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said.

These are the games that will bring high school football back.

This is what the Hawaii High School Athletic Association is talking about.

A gift.

One night: Sept. 21, 2002.

Two games. Mater Dei and De La Salle. The defending ILH champion takes on one, the OIA champion the other.

This is an idea that is long overdue, but that doesn't make it any less grand.

St. Louis School's resume is as impressive as the California powers'. And the current OIA champion, Kahuku, has proven it can beat St. Louis.

The deal isn't done yet. But it should be. It's time. Hawaii high school football is among the best in the country.

Another night of magic could happen. Another game for the ages. It could happen here. Let's hope that it does.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

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