Push the clock back about eight years to the small town of Waipahu, Hawaii, which is about 15 miles from Honolulu.
The Waipio Panthers’ Pee-Wee football team is getting ready to play led by a pair of precocious budding stars.
The starting quarterback is a kid named Tua Tagovailoa and joining him in the backfield is a running back named McKenzie Milton, who is a year older than Tua, but equally as talented.
Recognize the names?
But the story here is the journey as much as the destination.
Fast forward to 2014 and the opening game between a pair of Hawaii powerhouse prep programs, Mililani High School and the Saint Louis School. Playing QB for Mililani School is an older, wiser Milton, who is starting his junior season.
Playing QB (but not starting) for St. Louis is Tagovailoa, who is beginning his sophomore season.
Milton accounts for three TDs as Mililani takes a 21-0 lead. Coming off the bench (sound familiar) is Tua, who counters with three TDs of his own.
Mililani, though, is too powerful and coasts to a wild 63-47 victory. After the game, the two friends compared stats: Milton: four TDs and 369 passing yards, 204 rushing yards and three TDS on just nine carries.
Tua has thrown five TD passes and rushed for another 73 yards.
They meet against the next year in the state playoffs. But Milton is knocked out of the game early with an injury and Tua and St. Louis, which has already produced a QB named Marcus Mariota, rolls to an easy victory as Tua throws three TD passes.
Fast forward to last season.
Tua has become a folk legend in Alabama by coming off the bench in the second half of the Tide’s national championship game against Georgia to lead the Tide to a pulsating overtime victory.
Milton is the quarterback of the only unbeaten team in the FBS last season, the University of Central Florida, a circumstance which has prompted UCF fans to claim a mythical national championship.
Last Friday, Central Florida rolls to a 56-36 win over Florida Atlantic. Leading the way at QB is Milton, who completed 22 of 30 passes for four TDs and carried the ball 11 times for 81 yards and three more TDs.
The next night, No. 1 Alabama continues its unbeaten season with a 45-23 romp past Texas A&M. Tua completes 22 of 30 passes for 387 yards and four TDs. He picks up another 10 yards rushing and adds another TD.
Tua’s efforts keep him among the favorites to win the Heisman. Not that far back on the list is Milton, which creates an interesting possibility.
California prep power house Mater Dei has produced a pair of Heisman Trophy winners in John Huarte (Notre Dame) and Matt Leinart (USC), but they were separated by more than 40 years.
With that in mind, we proudly can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that no Pee Wee football program ever produced a pair of Heisman candidates from the same backfield, which is why Tua and Milton and the Waipio Panthers are TMG’s Newsmakers of the Week.