Mililani’s McKenzie Milton was determined to end his night with one more handoff.
But the Trojans’ offensive line would have none of it.
After being awarded game MVP honors after the Trojans’ 41-7 win over Campbell Friday night, Mililani’s sophomore quarterback tried his best to have his linemen carry the hardware out of Aloha Stadium as a show of appreciation.
Instead they let the sophomore keep it. Apparently, his efforts in leading a 348-yard performance that helped send Mililani to its first Division I state tournament final was reward enough.
“I love those guys so much,” Milton said. “They’re my big brothers.”
Mililani’s ability to control both sides of the line of scrimmage proved pivotal in the first game of Friday’s First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I semifinal doubleheader at Aloha Stadium.
Mililani’s offensive line gave Milton time to throw for 170 yards and two touchdowns and run for 73.
The Trojans’ defensive front was simply dominant with 17 tackles for loss for 94 yards, including 11 sacks of Campbell’s Isaac Hurd. Mililani held the Sabers to 155 total yards, including just four rushing.
“Catching Hurd is very difficult, he’s a fast guy,” said Mililani defensive end Kelii Padello, who finished the night with three sacks. “I have to give all the credit to my brothers next to me on the field.”
Milton was also quick to share the credit after his performance.
Primarily a scrambler in the early-season competition for the starting job, Milton emerged as a legitimate dual-threat as the season progressed in helping the Trojans claim the OIA Red title and advance to the state tournament final a year after losing to Punahou in the semifinal round.
“I’ve been playing with McKenzie since we were about 7 years old,” said Mililani senior Dayton Furuta, who ran for two touchdowns and contributed a tackle for loss at linebacker. “Watching him from the beginning of the season to this point, he blossomed so much and I’m just proud of what he’s been doing and he has a great future.”
Said Milton: “I’ve definitely matured as a player, but my teammates have helped me do that putting their trust in me.”
One of Friday’s pivotal sequences came on Mililani’s second possession, when the Trojans converted a third-and-29. Milton hit Vavae Malepeai for 17 yards, then did the job himself with a 14-yard run on fourth-and-12. Mililani scored four plays later on Milton’s 12-yard pass to Kalakaua Timoteo, and the Trojans took off from there.
“I didn’t see anything open downfield and I just tried to make a play with my feet,” Milton said.
“It got the offense going, but our offensive line did a great job and the skills did a great job making plays in space and Vavae did a great job too.”
While “McKenzie Football” doesn’t quite have the same ring, Milton’s penchant for turning an apparent broken play into a big gain does at times bear a resemblance to Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.
“Manziel has a Heisman Trophy, (Milton’s) still in high school, so there’s no comparison,” Mililani coach Rod York said. “But he definitely makes plays and extends the drives for us, and he’s definitely a big reason we’re winning.”
For his part, Milton — who recorded touchdowns rushing, passing and receiving in the OIA Red final — does appreciate the skills of some the top dual-threats out there, but he places a pocket passer atop his list of role models.
“I like watching Manziel, I like watching (Oregon’s Marcus) Mariota,” Milton said. “But I’d say my favorite quarterback is Peyton Manning.”