Graduation Hits Mililani Football, But Talent Remains Deep

As highly as Mililani head football coach Rod York thought of Holden Young’s play last fall, the 5-foot-10, 250-pound senior’s stock keeps rising. If anything, Young’s responsibilities as a leader have increased, given that three starting linemen from last year have completed their eligibility.

“We’ll go as far as our offensive line blocks for us,” said York, who led Mililani to a 10-3 mark last fall. “Holden is a hardworking kid who is self-motivated and who has a GPA of 3-plus. He doesn’t talk too much, but he screams as far as action goes. He’s never missed a practice here, and he’s a leader by example.”

Mililani recently finished up spring practice, which included full-contact scrimmages, in preparation for the 2013 season. The team is currently playing in 7-on-7 pass league games as awaits the official beginning of fall camp during the last week of July.

The Trojans averaged 32.9 points per game last year, in large part behind the play of quarterback Jarin Morikawa, who threw for 3,500 yards and 37 touchdowns. He has since graduated, and the program is now in the re-group mode – especially up front.

“We had a couple of All-Stars (as selected in a vote by OIA coaches) on the (offensive) line last year, but I still felt we could do a whole lot better,” York admitted. “We’ve revamped our staff and tweaked what we do.”

A defensive lineman during his own playing days, York has become more directly involved in tutoring the offensive line. Additionally, he has brought in former Punahou/San Diego State standout Trask Iosefa to handle offensive-line duties.

“He brings the attitude – he’s a very humble and team-oriented coach,” York said. “The players respect him. He could still put the pads on and show them how to do it if he wanted to. He’s a big guy who can run all day.”

To help compensate for the lack of depth on the offensive side, York envisions veteran defensive linemen Rex Manu and KK Padello playing both ways this fall.

“I’m not usually a fan of players going both ways, but we have to do what we have to do. They are going to help us out big-time. They’re the ones who actually suggested it, which is a first for us. These guys want to do whatever it takes to win.”

York also is excited about his prospects at quarterback, where McKenzie Milton and Saint Louis School transfer Robert Faleafine are vying to be starter. Both have been splitting reps. “We learned a lot about both of our quarterbacks in spring when they were in pads,” York said. “Both are coming along with their reads. Now it’s a matter of developing the trust factor – trust in their teammates and the belief in what we do. Right now, we’re at about 80 percent (as far as believing in the offensive system). We need to be at 100 percent. Like any offense, you need a lot of reps to get used to it, but they’re coming along.

“I love the competition we have between the two right now,” he added. “It’s a friendly competition – they have become good friends. I sometimes have to remind them (they are in competition).”

Also helping the Trojans offensive is their depth at running back. Dayton Furuta, who averaged 4.2 yards per carry and had 15 touchdowns in 2012, leads a talented group that includes Cheyne Constantino, Pakelo Lee and Saint Louis transfer Vae Malepeai.

Mililani returns to 7-on-7 pass league action this week with games at Kailua Wednesday and at Radford Thursday. Both scrimmages begin at 4 p.m.

The pre-season game is Aug. 10 against Moanalua. The Trojans will host Punahou Aug. 15, in an inter-league game.