Mililani Trojans Still A Front-runner For State Football Title
As Kahuku and Mililani football fans assembled the first Saturday in August for a scrimmage between the schools, there wasn’t any talk that both teams would meet for the OIA crown two months later.
Regardless of the outcome of last weekend’s league title game, both Kahuku and Mililani have come a long way and figure to be among the favorites in the 2012 state tournament, which begins this weekend with first-round games. Kahuku had gone 9-0 through last weekend’s action and is the defending state champion. Mililani rebounded from a 4-6 season in 2011 to go 9-1 through its first 10 games of this season. Pairings for states were to be released over the weekend. A look at Mililani follows.
Head coach: Rod York Record: 9-1 overall heading into last weekend’s OIA championship game. (The Trojans went 5-1 in the OIA Red West this year.)
What to watch: Since a mistake-ridden loss to Leilehua, the Trojans have been a scoring machine, averaging 37.2 yards per game en route to a six-game winning streak. They generally win the turnover battle, but they were done it that night by several turnovers of their own. Therein lies Mililani’s key to the post-season. If the Trojans can limit mistakes and be as consistent as in the last seven weeks, they are as capable as any team in the state.
When Mililani has the ball: Scoring hasn’t been hard. They put up 45, 45, 35, 49, 42 and 42 as point totals in their last six games alone, prior to last weekend’s OIA title game. Quarterback Jarin Morikawa has been one of the state’s most prolific passers to date, having covered 2,868 yards with 32 touchdown passes (against only eight interceptions). The Trojans also feature a host of play-makers in linebacker Dayton Furuta (4.2 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns) and receivers Ekolu Ramos (16.3, seven touchdowns), Erren Jean-Pierre (16.4 yards, six touchdowns) and Kainoa Wilson (13.4, 5 touchdowns), among others, who help to balance out the attack. Above all, except for in their loss to Leilehua, the Trojans have been among the most consistent units around. It all begins up front with the offensive line, which has given Morikawa time to throw. To continue to put up big numbers, the unit will have to continue to control the line of scrimmage.
When Mililani is on defense: While the offense has scored enough to win any shoot-out, the defense has ensured that it wouldn’t be necessary, as they have helped turn many of Mililani’s wins into blowouts. Defense is the reason the Trojans are in the discussion as a state title team, beginning with the play of the front seven. Linebackers Dayton Furuta, Mike Atuaia and Jacob Afele and linemen Mene Perese, Dakota Turner, Rex Manu and KK Padello have more than solidified the unit as one of the best in the state as a whole. In the back, Mililani features a veteran secondary that includes playmakers in Beau Win-chester, Kainoa Souza-Paaluhi, Ian Namu and Bronson KaleinamokuChun.
The defense is giving up only 100 yards rushing per game and is holding opponents to 13.7 points per game. Generating turnovers is the group’s forte, which should bode well in the coming weeks.
Trojan fact: Mililani went a perfect 6-0 at home this fall.
Make plans for the state championship game if: The Trojans can continue to score high 20s or better. Their offense scored more than 30 points in all but one game this season. The defense is good enough to keep most teams under 20 points, so if the Trojans can avoid turnovers, 2012 could be their year.