OIA Red Championship
The matchup: Farrington (8-2) vs. Mililani (9-1)
Location/Time: Aloha Stadium, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Head-to-head (since 1973): Farrington leads 7-3-1
Biggest margin of victory: Mililani, 33-6, Oct. 27, 2006; Farrington, 27-0, Oct. 13, 2000
*Smallest margin of victory: Farrington, 20-19, Oct. 28, 2005
*Teams played to 14-14 tie on Oct. 8, 1999
Farrington’s offensive leadersUpdated: Nov. 18
Mililani’s offensive leadersUpdated: Nov. 25
It’s been 23 years since Skippa Diaz led Farrington to its only OIA championship in football.
The Govs didn’t complete a single pass in a 15-7 win over Waianae in the OIA title game on Nov. 23, 1990. Instead, they relied on some running back named Randall Okimoto, who rushed for 216 yards in the victory.
Friday night, that same Randall Okimoto can lead his Governors back to the promised land. The only problem is, he’ll have to beat a Mililani team that is undefeated against the OIA this season.
Both teams ride an eight-game winning streak into Friday’s championship bout at Aloha Stadium.
Mililani has won by double-digits in all nine of its wins. Its only loss was 24-14 to No. 1 Punahou, which punched its ticket into the state tournament last Friday with a win over Kamehameha on the same field.
The Trojans are poised to earn the other bye, assuming nothing crazy happens in the HHSAA seeding meetings, by notching their second OIA championship in four years. Mililani can become the first team other than Kahuku to win multiple OIA Red football titles since the league broke up the conference into Red and White divisions in 2003.
Barring injury, Mililani running back Vavae Malepeai (194 carries, 1.176 yards, 18 TDs) will take over the Oahu lead for rushing yards from Kamehameha’s Kainoa Siamo (1,195 yards), whose season is over. Malepeai has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven of the nine games he’s played, including four of the last five.
Defensively, Mililani’s Kelii Padello has a case for defensive player of the year with big games against the best teams. In the four Mililani games I’ve covered, Padello has 11 sacks, including four against Punahou and three last week against Kahuku, two teams that always produce legit players on its offensive lines.
Farrington has bounced back from an 0-2 start with eight straight wins thanks to a defense that has held its last four opponents (Kaimuki, Kahuku, Kapolei, Campbell) to just 24 total points. Defensive linemen Motu Heimuli and Breiden Fehoko have been dominant stopping the run game. In a 7-0 shutout of Campbell in the semifinals, they helped hold Sabers quarterback Isaac Hurd to 21 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Running back Sanele Lavatai is 97 yards away from cracking the 1,000-yard mark this season. Lavatai has battled a hamstring issue over the last two weeks and barely made it through the Campbell game, opting to head straight for the training table as soon as the game was over. Quarterback Montana Liana and receiver Jacob Baguio have found a nice connection in recent weeks.
The Trojans won the title in 2010 only after Kahuku had to forfeit. Friday night, they can finally win one the right away, by doing it on the field. The Govs have been on fire late and might be able to slow down Malepeai and the running game. Mililani QB McKenzie Milton threw some darts against Kahuku last week, so Farrington can’t just focus on the run. Receivers Kainoa Wilson, Bronson Ramos and Bronsen Ader can also hurt an opposing defense.
If Fehoko and Heimuli can handle the running game themselves and the Govs stay balanced defensively, then Farrington can pull it off. If not, then Mililani can make it two OIA titles in the last four years under coach Rod York.