Mililani Expects Running Game To Improve Under Chang

Among Mililani head football coach Rod York’s priorities this off-season was to re-commit to establishing the running game.

The recent hiring of former Saint Louis School and University of Hawaii legend Timmy Chang, and a revamped offensive staff, will play a major role in reaching that goal, he said.

“Everyone knows we are going to throw the ball, but we also need to pound the ball,” said York. “In past years, we haven’t been able to get the one or two yards when we need it, and I’m disgusted with that. It was an issue all of last year.”

Enter Chang, who coached the wide receivers at Mililani in 2009 alongside York on Darnell Arceneaux’s staff. After Chang approached York about returning as the wide receivers coach, the offensive coordinator job opened and he got it.

“It was a no-brainer,” York said. “He was great when he was here (in 2009). He’s a great teacher. He’s a student of the game, and he expects the kids to be students of the game.

“He was in here during spring break at 8 in the morning working on our offense,” he added of Chang, who played in the Canadian Pro Football League as well as NFL Europe. “He’s also a great example. He’s a college graduate, and he’s always pushing academics.”

York doesn’t expect the Trojans’ run-and-shoot offense to deviate that much, schematically, from past seasons. “We haven’t changed who we are. Our philosophy stays the same. We want to make defenses defend the entire 100 yards as well as the width (53 yards) of the field. We want to stretch the defense, but we also want to be able to run the ball. We always want to be balanced, and Tim is all about that. One of the first things he noticed is that we’ve gotten away from the run (game).”

In addition to Chang as offensive coordinator, the Trojans’ revamped offensive staff also will include Tommy Heffernan Sr. (running backs), Doug Nomura (offensive line), Jensen Pruse (offensive line), Jeff Matsuzaki (wide receivers), Nick Paulos (slot backs) and John Morikawa (quarterbacks).

Mililani averaged 260.9 yards a game through the air last season, but just 25.6 on the ground, ranking the Trojans’ 10th in the state in total offense. Among the returning starters is quarterback Jarin Morikawa, who threw for 2,597 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011. York is also excited about the development of quarterback Levi Castaneres. “I think Jarin and Levi will definitely benefit from playing for Timmy,” he said.

The home field is also getting revamped, as the installation of a new artificial field turf surface currently is under way to replace the natural grass. The new field is similar to the surfaces installed at Leilehua and Roosevelt in recent years.

Mililani’s spring game is tentatively set for May 30. The Trojans will have gone through two weeks of spring practices in preparation for the game.