The 1990 Orange County prep football season will kick off Hawaiian-style with three county teams playing their openers at Aloha Stadium on island of Oahu.
Capistrano Valley, the county’s top-ranked team in 1989, starts at 3:30 p.m. (PDT) today against Honolulu Damien in the Skip Akina Classic, which honors a former University of Hawaii player who died in an automobile accident. In the featured game of four, Canyon Country Canyon plays Honolulu St. Louis late tonight. St. Louis has a 55-game winning streak.
Tustin and Edison will begin their seasons Friday; Tustin plays Pac-5 at 9 p.m. (PDT) and Edison faces Honolulu Iolani at 11:30 p.m.
Coaches at the three Orange County schools said the primary reason for making the long trip to open the season is to establish team unity in anticipation of a big year. All three teams are expected to be ranked among the county’s top 10 in the preseason poll.
“If you play high school football, you’ll hopefully have some great memories, and a trip to Hawaii certainly should be a great experience for our players,” Capistrano Valley Coach Eric Patton said.
Capistrano Valley’s fund-raising drive got an assist from the Rams, who scheduled a rookie scrimmage against the San Diego Chargers on July 26 at the school’s football stadium with ticket proceeds going toward the trip.
“We sold about 2,000 tickets and raised about $5,500 from the game,” Patton said.
Last year, Capistrano Valley lost an overtime game to eventual champion Paramount in the Division III semifinals, finishing 12-1. The Cougars have some of the county’s top returning skilled-position players, including quarterback Tony Solliday, wide receiver Dave Poltl, free safety Jeremy Brion and running back Chris Adams. Adams is injured and will not play today.
Damien, a small Catholic school, will have a large partisan crowd on its side. Administrators closed the school to allow the students to attend the game.
Tustin Coach Marijon Ancich has set up camp on the northern-most spot on the island to prepare for the Tillers’ opener.
Camp Mokuleia, 40 miles north of Honolulu, has been home for Tustin players this week.
“The only distraction out here is once in a while the wind comes up,” Ancich said. “Or (assistant coach) Vince Brown falls off a surfboard. The beach here is untouchable. This is my third trip to Hawaii and this is the most fun we’ve had.
“We’re not staying in a fancy hotel in Waikiki, but this isn’t Kuwait out here. It’s like a summer camp. The kids are staying in cabins and we’re practicing at Waialua High right next to the water.”
Tustin will field a talented and experienced backfield led by quarterback Andy Borza and running backs Visko Ancich and Ron Goods. Shad Vickers, an Irvine transfer, will start at free safety and alternate at wide receiver.
Pac-5 is a team made up of five small private schools on Oahu. Ancich said the school uses a double slot offense and throws 35-40 passes per game.
This is Edison’s third trip to Hawaii. Dave White made his head coaching debut in 1986 with a victory over St. Anthony on Maui; the Chargers beat Punahou on their first trip in 1982 when White was an assistant.
Most of Edison players earned their way for the trip by selling advertisements for the team’s program. Players earned 50% of any new advertisement that was sold with a full-page ad selling for $400.
“We had one player, Greg Seybert, collect over $1,000 and he brought his younger brother over with him,” White said.
Edison has the biggest traveling party among the three schools with 225, including the sophomore team, cheerleaders and parents. The sophomore team will play Iolani’s junior varsity team today.
To prepare for Aloha Stadium’s turf field, Edison will practice today on the turf at the University of Hawaii. And White had 24 pairs of turf shoes delivered for his skill-position players.
Last season, Edison advanced to the semifinals of the Division I playoffs before losing to the state’s top-ranked team, Fontana. White lost the majority of his starters to graduation, but Mike Cunningham, a gifted wide receiver, returns.
Cunningham averaged 20.7 yards per reception and scored five touchdowns despite missing four games with a broken thumb.