Brotherhood Of Teammates Strengthens Mililani Title Hopes
His eligibility clock may be ticking away, but Mililani’s standout center Brett Damato isn’t likely to have any regrets when his time in a Trojan uniform is officially up. He’s always gotten the most out of every play of every day of his time on the football field.
“The last two years have been a grind,” said Damato, “but you have to put in the work to be successful, and that means going to practice every day and working hard.”
In Damato’s case, he’s looking for the right ending to what has been a solid career with the Trojans, who entered last weekend having won 20 of their last 22 games since he broke into the starting lineup in the first game of his junior year. One of those defeats in that stretch was a 28-22 loss to Punahou at last year’s state championship.
“That loss last year humbled us, and it made us hungrier than ever,” he admitted. “We were so close — literally 50 yards away from a trophy.”
Mililani, which won its first eight games, was to play Kaiser last Friday night in an OIA quarter-final playoff game in hopes of extending its season. The top three finishers earn the league’s berths for the Division I state tournament, which begins Nov. 7.
To date, the Mililani offense has been among the most prolific in the state, averaging 44 points per game and 530 total yards per outing. Balance also has been a strength. The team averages 293 yards through the air and 237 on the ground.
“I’ll do whatever I have to do to make us win,” Damato said. “If I have to pass block all game for (quarterback) McKenzie (Milton), I will. If I have to get down and dirty and hit someone off the ball (in the run game), I will. I believe in the system.”
Damato credited cohesiveness, especially on the offensive line, as a huge contributing factor in Mililani’s success.
“The real motivation in football is that you get to be part of a brotherhood with your teammates,” he explained. “Football builds relationships. I’m spending literally eight hours some days with my teammates at school and in practice.
“Someday we’ll be going to each other’s weddings — that’s how close we are. On game day, there’s no one who can help you on the field but your teammates.”
In addition to Damato, the starting offensive line includes Antonio Ala (left tackle), Derrick Fetui-Suapaia (left guard), Andru Tovi (right guard) and Jordan Agasiva (right tackle).
On evenings before a game, Damato and his line mates hold potlucks to further their bond.
“That really helps us,” he said. “We all bring food, we have a prayer, and then we load up on carbs for the game. It helps us to build a brotherhood.”
As the top seed out of the OIA’s newly formed Blue conference, the Trojans had an extra off week prior to their quarterfinal game last weekend with Kaiser.
Damato thinks the best is yet to come.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best football yet, but we’re on track. We want to peak in the playoffs.”