Coach York Reflects On Trojans’ Successful 2013 Season

With his team just a few plays away from a Division I state football title Nov. 23, Mililani head football coach Rod York had much to reflect on recently when he rang in the new year.

He also had to push the team’s annual banquet back to this weekend, but no one’s complaining. The Trojans’ playoff push meant finishing their season later than normal.

“It’s a good thing. We don’t get to do that very often.”

York has spent the last several weeks accumulating awards in the aftermath of the 12-2 season, which included winning the OIA title en route to a runner-up finish to Punahou in the state tournament.

In addition to earning Co-Coach of the Year honors in the OIA Red West, York also was the KHON Cover 2 Coach of the Year and the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl’s Hawaii Coach of the Year.

As he reflected on 2013, the Trojans’ late drive in their loss to Punahou was still fresh in his memory. “But overall, I’m very proud of the kids as well as our coaches,” he said.

York recently took some time to visit with MidWeek‘s Central Oahu Islander.

How important was your 2013 off-season, as far as preparing you for the fall? What did your team gain the most from their work-outs? Our off-season determines how well we’ll do in our season. We do as much work mentally as we do physically. We pushed our kids last off-season harder than ever before, and it paid off. We also had a lot of leadership show up (in off-season workouts). It’s hard to come every day and work hard and do well in school and always do all the right things, but this group pretty much did it. Our off-season definitely set up our regular season.

What are you most proud of as you begin plans for your fifth season at Mililani? Win or lose, it’s great to see the camaraderie we now have here in the community. Our new principal, Fred Murphy, really instills Trojan pride in us. You see it all over campus, like when you walk into a meeting. All of these little things make a huge difference. Our faculty and security staff and counselors are all supportive, and (MHS staff member) Gaile Nitta is an auntie to the kids on campus.

How would you assess your coaching staff? We are all competitors, and we all want to win, but at the end of the day, we’re friends on and off of the field. We just all get along, and that makes a huge difference as far as our being on the same page. Some of us have known each other since high school. Silila (Malepeai) has helped revamp our whole program with his leadership. He’s as much a consultant as a coach. (York’s staff also include former Denver Broncos’ defensive lineman Maa Tanuvasa and Trask Iosefa.)

Have you noticed more of a buzz around the program, given your recent successes? We had to cut kids from the JV team last August because we literally had 100 kids. On the varsity, we now have 80 jerseys, so in the four years since I took over, we’ve improved the level of our participation. And people recognize me more when I’m out shopping.