Big Things Expected Of Mililani And Leilehua In OIA Playoffs

Even with defending Division I state champion Kahuku entering the OIA playoffs as the favorite, it won’t surprise anyone if the top team ultimately comes out of the Red West, given the balance in the league this fall. If anything, the brutal Red West slate guaranteed that both Mililani and Leilehua would be battle- tested when the playoffs arrived. With the post-season set to begin this weekend, MidWeek’s Central Oahu Islander looks at both programs.

Mililani Trojans

Record: 6-1 overall, 4-1 in the OIA Red West, heading into last weekend’s finale with Waipahu.

Signature wins: Waianae (35- 7) and at Campbell (45-26)

What to watch: Led by quarterback Jarin Morikawa, the offense has been among the best in the state, putting up at least 31 points in all but one game, including a pair of games where they tallied 45. With those numbers, it will obviously take a very good defense to keep the team in check.

In addition to a stable of stellar receivers (Ekolu Ramos, Kainoa Wilson, Erren Jean-Pierre, Colton Dayacos-Gaspar and Preston Sinn), the Trojans also bring a trio of fine running backs in Dayton Furuta, Kamalii Olayan- Keawe and Antonio Boies. Every game is winnable if the offensive line can continue to control the line of scrimmage.

If any unit can match the prowess of the offense, mean- while, it may be the Trojan defense that boasts the best front seven in the West. While the numbers the offense has amassed shed a lot of light on Mililani, it’s the defense that makes this team a championship contender. The Trojans’ defense has been outstanding, relinquishing just 78 yards rushing per game and not much more through the air. Mililani is giving up just 12.2 point per game, which is impres- sive given how many good offens- es are in the Red West.

Make plans for the state tournament if: The Trojans will be there; how far is the only question. Playing turnover-free is the key for Mililani, which was done in by five turnovers in its only loss, a 17-13 defeat at the hands of Leilehua Sept. 1. If the Trojans take care of the ball and eliminate drive-stopping penalties, they figure to be in the mix to the end.

Leilehua Mules

Record: 5-2 overall, 3-2 in the OIA Red West, heading into last weekend’s finale versus Waianae

Signature wins: Kamehameha (12-0), Mililani (17-13) and Waipahu (27-26)

What to watch: It all begins on the defensive side of the ball. Led by longtime defensive coordinator Mark Kurisu, Leilehua is giving up 210 total yards a game, and just 96 passing yards, against arguably the state’s toughest schedule best passing attacks.

Leilehua’s pass defense was best illustrated in the 17-13 win over Mililani, which possesses one of the best passing games in the state. If the Mules can continue to bring their “A game” in the pass rush, a long run through the post-season is a strong possibility.

Offensively, the Mules always put a lot of stress on defenses, with their mix of formations and short to medium-range passing game. Quarterback Justin Jenks has 11 touchdown passes to his credit, and a strong pass catching corps that includes Keoni Piceno, Josh Jenks, Nick Rodriguez, Ikaika Piceno and Conrad Supnet, and gives the Mules an opportunity to control the ball and games with the offense.

Make plans for the state tournament if: The Mules are a good bet to make the playoffs — as long as they avoid beating them- selves with turnovers. Their defense is a prototypical Kurisu-led-defense, and the offense is capable of controlling the game with its methodical passing game.