Head coach Rod York loves to take his boys to the mainland and he’s doing it again this year.
The Mililani football team will travel to Northern California to play one of the top teams there — Clayton Valley Charter High, which is located in the town of Concord — on Sept. 1.
In addition, the Trojans have a verbal agreement to play Pittsburg, another top team from Northern California, in 2018 here in Hawaii. York said that game has not been finalized, and that he is working on scheduling a yearly matchup (rotating home and away) against teams from that area.
“We’ve basically been talking to different coaches and we came across Clayton Valley,” York said. “They wanted to play and we wanted to travel. We hooked up, worked out a deal and are ready to go.”
York said the connections were made through Robert Faleafine, who runs Jr. Prep Sports, which annually hosts high school all-star games at Aloha Stadium.
York said going to the mainland gives his kids a great opportunity to explore.
“It comes down to bonding, too, and it’s tough to travel with so many kids, but at the same time the benefits are huge,” he said. “Kids get to experience and see places that they probably never would have been able to see. We went to Vegas two years ago and some of our guys had never jumped on a plane before.”
York also likes for his Trojans to face run-oriented teams on the mainland and he got his wish.
“Clayton Valley is a run-heavy team and that is good for our team,” he said. “They’re like Kahuku. They only line up in the wildcat formation. On fourth and 10 and third and 10, they run the ball. One season, I believe, they led the nation in rushing of all high school teams.”
Clayton Valley lost 28-0 to nationally ranked De La Salle (also from the town of Concord) in California’s North Coast Section Open Division playoffs last year, and, two years ago, lost 28-14 to Narbonne (Los Angeles) in the Division I-A state championship game.
De La Salle wound up making the Open Division state final, where it lost 56-33 to St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.).
In 2016, Mililani defeated ‘Iolani 31-20 in Hawaii’s Division I state title game, the first time D-I was the second highest division due to the newly created Open Division. The Trojans also took the D-I title in 2014, when it was the top tier.
Pittsburg, the team the Trojans are planning to play in 2018, lost to De La Salle 70-14 two years ago in the North Coast Section Open Division playoffs.
“There is so much competition out there that some teams go undefeated and don’t go to the playoffs,” York said. “They make the selections on who is going to the playoffs on TV, like they do for March Madness.
“Everybody has heard of De La Salle. We’re trying to find the good teams that are kind of undiscovered (by Hawaii fans).”
In 2015, Mililani lost to Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) 76-53 in Las Vegas. That same season, Liberty came to Aloha Stadium and lost to Saint Louis 43-16.
“When we went there, not many people here had heard about Liberty — that’s because they lose to Bishop Gorman (three-time defending MaxPreps national champion) every year.”
York said another team in the Northern California area, Freedom (located in Oakley), is another top team that flies under the radar.
“Freedom was having a dream season, scoring 50 points a game and played against De La Salle, which probably had its least talented team in the last 20 years, and lost 42-7 (in the NCS Open final),” York said.
York added that Clayton Valley, Pittsburg and Freedom are all portrayed in the 2014 movie “When the Game Stands Tall,” a sports drama film about the De La Salle football program.
Mililani is planning to visit the campuses of Cal and Diablo Junior College and are trying to arrange a visit to either the Oakland Raiders or the San Francisco 49ers, who will still be in their preseason at the time.
“We want the boys to see what it’s like at a big-school and a small-school campus,” York said.