Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • March 3, 2021
Santa To 3 Hawaii Reindeer: On Kyler (Halvorsen), On Christian (Rapis), On McKenzie (Milton)

Now if that ain’t a wacky headline.

And that’s the beauty of online, personal journalism. It’s wacky. It’s wild … as Johnny Carson would say with Ed McMahon guffawing at his side.

In other words, this freelancing of sorts doesn’t have that same coat and tie, buttoned-down essence that you will find at straight-laced news institutions. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter.

So, where can we go with this?

OK, well, the Christmas season is long past, but Santa Claus was here and we had our annual discussion. I help him shop every year to bring goodies to those who have been good. And now, I’m finally getting to sit down and write about it a little bit.

Side note:
the North Shore is where St. Nick gets most of his work done, not the North Pole, and the days of elves manufacturing stuff for him are long gone. That was farmed out to international sweat shops years ago. What, you didn’t think he would stay in a cold-weather place for his whole life, did you? Ahh, but he still has to go through the snowy climes on Dec. 24, as pictured above).

Where were we?

Oh yeah, Santa wanted to talk about sports, specifically about all of the high school athletes out there who are not getting a chance to do their stuff on the competitive playing fields.

And, oh, I almost forgot to mention that Santa (who we all know is a very fair-minded individual) called yesterday to mention that President Donald Trump was a bad boy for lying about stolen elections and that the Democratic Party leaders are also being bad boys and girls for sticking the figurative knife in and trying to remove him from office by impeachment for a second time even though he’s going to be quietly out in less than a week because of the November election results. Santa told told me he thinks the Democrats are doing it so Trump can never be elected President again and believes that the Donkey party doesn’t have full faith in the American people to never again elect a known serial liar to the highest office in the land.

“But he’s done a lot of great things” many will say. They’re still saying it about President Richard Nixon, who removed himself from office in shame 46 years ago.

From George “Never Told a Lie” Washington to Donald “Often Tells Bogus Lies On Purpose And Without Regard For Those Who Have To Put Up With It” Trump in 130 years.

And now a message from our sponsors John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.


When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
And I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
And I get to the bottom and I see you again

— The Beatles, “Helter Skelter”


A low point in America. My opinion. But we will prevail by going back to the top of the slide, so to speak. I hope.

Oh, by the way, this is a good time to point out that I was wrong about the election. In October, I wrote a story predicting that Trump would win in a landslide. I just didn’t think the electorate was going to vote Trump out, but they did and I’m glad.

As Deputy Dawg might say: “Don’t go away mad Muskie (or Donald), just go away.”

And, for the record, it’s not Donald as a person I have a problem with. Love thy neighbor, right? But I can do without him being president. Ahh, once again, gotta say: My opinion.

Sure, we’ll get back to the main point of this story some day, but you have to bear with me. Writing isn’t as easy as you think.

Looking for a transition …

There are many Hawaii athletes out there still working very, very hard at their crafts despite not getting to compete.

Santa pointed out three underdog types from Hawaii who are doing all they can to show the world what they have. He said they have reindeer-like work ethic.

Underdog number one: Kyler Halvorsen, kicker, Kaiser High School.

Underdog number two: Christian Rapis, quarterback, Pearl City High School.

Underdog number three: McKenzie Milton, quarterback, Florida State University.

And so Santa asked if I could write about them and so that’s what I’m going to do below. Before saying goodbye, good ol’ St. Nick asserted, like to his reindeer: “On Kyler, On Christian, On McKenzie!!!”

Gigantic Asterisk On Halvorsen’s ‘Record’ Field Goal

Of the three, we start with this kid Halvorsen because he is on a mission and will not rest until he gets to where he wants to go. He’s constantly out there, bettering himself and posting videos of his booming kicks.

Coaches are taking an interest and he’s gotten some offers from small schools.

But my guess is this guy has a chance to be a Division I kicker some day. Maybe he needs to go to a small school first.

Halvorsen kicked a 53-yard field goal against Pac-Five in 2019 as a junior and was out to better the record of 57 this year before his senior season was wiped out.

We caught up with Halvorsen for a story in July that you can read here.

But, recently, Halvorsen posted video of him booting the ball through the uprights from 58 yards out. The record!!! Ahh, of course, there is a major asterisk on that. No opponent. No snap. No hold. But still, he made it. It means something in my book … COVID-19 be damned.

Author’s note: Kevin Snow went to my alma maters — Marlboro High and Worcester State University in Massachusetts.

We knew he was a good kicker at both schools, but what we didn’t know was that he had the ability to play for a Division I college. He was fortunate to land with Boston College during the Doug Flutie-era — a very, very, very golden time for football in New England.

When Snow became the starter for the Eagles (after two years at Worcester State), I was a newbie reporter at the Marlboro Enterprise (as well as a WSU student) and called coach Jim Girouard of the Lancers to ask him about this nice surprise for our hometown.

This is what I remember Girouard saying, “The goalpost is only so high and so wide, and if you can put it through the uprights here, then you can do it anywhere.”

Snow’s presence on the BC football team was my ticket to get credentials to cover their games in that unbelievable time. Flutie, in my mind, still ranks as one of the greatest athletes I have ever seen. He had a confidence about him, an air, that I have not seen since. He never got a fair deal in the NFL, but is ranked as the No. 1 player (selected by a panel of former players)  ever in the Canadian Football League.

Let that sink in for a second: The greatest CFL player of all-time!!! Raymond Berry and Mike Ditka, his NFL coaches (and the whole league), were not ready for the guy listed as 5-10 as a QB.

So anyone who wants to laugh at my selection of Flutie as one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever seen can laugh all they want.

And what Girouard said about Snow also applies to Halvorsen.

Rapis Is Catching The Eye Of Coaches At National Showcases

At last check by Bedrock Sports Hawaii in June, this kid Rapis had the hope of playing his senior year. That’s not going to happen.

He wound up going to Pearl City High School (previously at Leilehua High and Kapolei High) and he’s been going to some national events, where he’s getting noticed.

Rapis was listed as one of the top QBs getting attention from coaches at the National Preps Collegiate Showcase in both the Bay Area (November) and in Washington (last weekend).

And highly respected quarterback mechanics coach Sam Fisher, a founder of Throw To Win, said this about Rapis in a Dec. 7 tweet:

So, seeing all of these glowing reviews leads me to believe that there’s a good chance Rapis is going to hook up with a solid D-I program somewhere. And like Jordan Taamu of Pearl City High School (and stardom at Ole Miss and the XFL) before him, many might say, “Where did he come from?”

The answer to that is Hawaii, the place where chips on shoulders live.

Milton Gearing Up For One More Attempt At College Magic

We all know McKenzie Milton’s story by now — Mililani superstar who led the Trojans on an amazing state title run. A fixture in UCF’s astounding offense, leading the team to a 13-0 season in 2017. The agonizing and horrifying injury in 2018 that has seriously threatened his career.

Followed by rehab, rehab, rehab. And now it’s work out, work out work out.

With one season of eligibility remaining, Milton in December chose to transfer to Florida State. And, even though he is really no underdog (throwing for 8,683 yards and 72 TDs in addition to 20 rushing TDs in three seasons at UCF), he still has that underdog mentality. He’s out to prove that he can still do it despite the injury.

From Eric Lopez of SB Nation after the transfer — “Milton is super competitive. You ask him. UCF is the National Champion and was the best team in 2017. He has confidence in his ability and in his team. He will fight for his team and will bring that to FSU.”

And here is what Milton gave as his answer on why he is transferring, according to Andrea Adelson of ESPN: “It’s a great opportunity to play at the biggest level on one of the most historic teams in college football.”

The Orlando Sentinel also did a piece and a video on Milton making his transfer announcement.

McKenzie Milton image from his Twitter feed.

Author’s note: Aside from his fantastic ability showcased on Hawaii’s football fields earlier this decade, here are a few other things I remember about McKenzie Milton.

— Before a scrimmage against Leilehua to start his junior year, it was a windy night and I recall Milton throwing during practice through the wind — deep and on the money. I thought, “If nothing else, this kid has ARM STRENGTH.”

— After interviewing Milton and other Trojans after practice one day, we were walking off the field and I said, “Hey, can you throw me a pass if I do a 10-yard square out?” And so I ran the route to the left and he threw it. Now, I can always say I caught a McKenzie Milton pass.

— After Mililani’s state title victory, I wrote about Milton and how he called it a “surreal” feeling at Aloha Stadium that night in 2014.

It was surreal for me, too, afterward. Right around that time, I was just starting to get a look at Hawaii Prep World analytics and for the first time in my looooooooong career, I could see how many people were actually looking at (and, hopefully, READING!!!) one of my stories on HPW’s Facebook page. Many smaller scale stories at that time would range between a few hundred and a few thousand views. And then I saw the Mililani story numbers and was stunned to see 14,000. It was, after all, the town’s first state championship and not a sign that the story was somehow exquisitely written.

And so, as Santa said, “On Kyler, On Christian, On McKenzie!!!”

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