The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
The spirit of Aloha is alive within the Long Beach football community this year. The Millikan Rams will open their 2023 season with a plane ride to Hawaii to take on historic powerhouse Punahou on Aug. 18, kicking off a competitive schedule for the Rams.
“I think it’s awesome. For these kids to go to Hawaii, I mean, a lot of these kids will never get the chance to go to Hawaii,” said Rams head coach Romeo Pellum of the unique trip. “I’m 33, about to be 34, and I’ve only been to Hawaii once–and that’s when I was playing at Washington State. And to play a team like Punahou, that’s huge for Millikan … It’s good for our boys and good for us to go out there and compete, and see where we stand nationally.”
Interestingly, the Rams are the second Long Beach team to schedule a game in Hawaii next season. Long Beach Poly is scheduled to play at Hilo Hawaii on Aug. 11.
Punahou School–located in Honolulu–is recognized as an athletic and academic powerhouse, producing a long list of prominent alumni, including former U.S. President Barack Obama. The Buff n’ Blue went 11-2 last season, playing only against other teams in Hawaii.
But Punahou has frequently taken on challengers from the mainland. In fact, their last game against out-of-state competition came against Long Beach Poly on Aug. 31, 2019. Punahou dominated against the Jackrabbits, earning a 45-0 win in what was technically a neutral site contest in Moorpark.
Millikan’s schedule remains challenging for the remainder of the non-league schedule, with the Rams hosting a rematch against Cathedral for their home opener on Aug. 25. Millikan lost by just one point against the Phantoms when those teams met early in the 2022 season.
From there, Millikan visits St. Francis on Sept. 1 before rounding out the non-league schedule at home against Upland on Sept. 8.
All three of those non-league games are against programs who made deep CIF playoff runs in similar divisions to where Millikan was placed in Division 4. Upland (9-5) reached the Division 3 championship game in 2022, Cathedral (10-3) made it to the Division 4 semifinals, and St. Francis played in the Division 5 title game.
“When we play against teams like Punahou or Upland, who were in Division 3 and went far in the playoffs, that gets us ready for teams we’re going to face in the playoffs,” Pellum explained. “It also gets us ready for our league and gets us ready to play Poly and teams like that … You’ve gotta go do what you’ve gotta do to get those games to make us a better program.”
During the Moore League schedule, the Rams will open up at home against Wilson (Sept. 15) before consecutive road games at Jordan (Sept. 22) and Poly (Sept. 29). The big rivalry game against Lakewood will be back at DeHaven Stadium on Oct. 6 with the Hamilton Trophy on the line.
The Rams will finish the season with a visit to Compton (Oct. 13), then their bye week, and finally the regular season finale at home on Oct. 27 against Cabrillo.
Millikan will have a lot of talent back on the roster, led by two-way standout Ryan Pellum, who leads a solid Class of ‘24 crop for the Rams. They’ll have good experience on the offensive line where four starters–Lake Dawson, Alex Romero, Mason Scott, and Jessie Wishon–are set to return, and the defense will have good experience with Ethaniah Stefffany up front along with veteran linebackers like Matt Robinson and Riley Tuggle.
This will be the second consecutive season that Millikan has taken an out-of-state trip during the preseason. The Rams went to Arizona last season to take on Sunrise Mountain, and pulled off a thrilling 33-32 overtime win.
MILLIKAN 2023 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
8/18 – @ Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii)
8/25 – vs. Cathedral
9/1 – @ St. Francis
9/8 – vs. Upland
9/15 – vs. Wilson
9/22 – @ Jordan
9/29 – @ Long Beach Poly (Veterans Memorial Stadium)
10/6 – vs. Lakewood
10/13 – @ Compton
10/20 – BYE
10/27 – vs. Cabrillo