Mililani Has Balance It Takes To Win State Football Title
Will it be a “November to Remember” for the Mililani football team? All signs point that way following a riveting season and equally exciting run in the OIA playoffs. MidWeek’s Central Oahu Islander breaks down the Trojans as they get ready for the DI state tournament.
Record: 9-1 overall at press time, 6-0 in the OIA Red West (regular-season champion). Mililani was to meet Farrington for the OIA title game last Friday.
Signature wins: Waianae 44-24 Aug. 30, Campbell 42-21 Sept. 21, Leilehua 21-9 Oct. 19, Kahuku 3722 on Oct. 21.
Summation: Is anyone playing better than Mililani? Entering last weekend’s OIA title game against a surging Farrington team, the Trojans have reeled off eight straight wins since an early-season loss to Punahou.
Traditionally, teams that advance in states succeed when they can run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense. No team has been better than Mililani in those areas, as evidenced in their riveting 37-22 win over defending state champ Kahuku in the OIA semifinals two weeks ago.
Trojan defense: The defense has yielded only 14.3 points per game and has given up just 83 yards per outing on the ground. Teams haven’t fared much better throwing on Mililani, which gives up only 135 passing yards a game.
Unit to keep an eye on: The defensive line of Keli‘i Padello, Blake Kondo, Rex Manu and Tamatoa Silva plays fast and physical. No group has figured bigger for any defensive unit in the state.
Trojan offense: Mililani’s success begins with a stellar offensive line, which has allowed the team to amass 380 yards per game. The Trojans have done it with balance, averaging 190 yards per game on the ground and 189 in the air. Quarterbacks McKenzie Milton and Robert Faleafine have been solid decision-makers with a combined touchdown-to-interception ratio of 18-6. That kind of efficiency will need to continue in order to make a state tournament run.
Key to success on offense: Play turnover free and control the ball. The only team to stop the offense has been the Trojans themselves on occasion, because of turnovers.
Unit to keep an eye on: The pass-catching corps of Bronson Ader, Bronson Ramos, Ryan Reedy, Kalakaua Timoteo and Wilson. With opposing teams likely to try to load up against the run game, look for this group to have its share of opportunities.