CLOSING THE BOOK: 2019 Mililani Trojans

Mililani defensive back Kiai Ramos (21) celebrated with linebacker Micah Kim (15), left, and defensive back Asher Pilanca (13) after recovering a Kahuku fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in 2019. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

>> 8-5 overall, 5-0 OIA Open Division

>> Rod York is 93-29 in 10 seasons in charge of the Trojans.

>> RB Malosi Sam, 5-8, 190, Jr.; LB Wynden Hoohuli, 6-2, 200, Jr.; DB Fatu Iosefa, 6-0, 170, Jr.; SB Mystic Sampaga, 5-8, 170, Jr.



With McKenzie Milton and Dillon Gabriel off to bigger and better things, the 2019 Mililani Trojans went back to their coach’s roots.

The Trojans went 8-5 and reached the state semifinals, but did so on the strength of their defense after Rod York‘s bunch overwhelmed teams with offense previously. York, a standout defensive lineman during his playing days, built a unit that allowed only 15.5 points per game this year and oversaw a defense that has improved in each of the last three years while putting together its lowest papg since 2013. The defense pitched four shutouts this year and held Punahou to a single field goal and was so good it put up those numbers despite allowing 89 points to Saint Louis in two games and 42 to eventual national champion St. John Bosco (Calif.).

This year’s Trojan crew was the first in school history to compile four shutouts in a season on the field, but the 2017 had three and a forfeit win over Kaiser. The defense had to be spectacular, because the offense was not up to Mililani’s standards. The Trojans scored a respectable 23.4 points per game, but a far cry from the 35.1 and 42.7 they put up in the previous two years.

That added up to a point differential of 7.9, the first time in York’s tenure that number has decreased for three straight seasons and the first time at the school since James Millwood‘s final three seasons from 2004-06.

Only two other teams have had a point differential of 7.9, and both of them didn’t suffer five losses. Mililani went 7-3 with the same differential in 2009 and ‘Iolani went 9-3 in 2004.

Still, York enjoyed his eighth straight winning season, easily a program record and a far cry from Cal Lee‘s current 24-year stretch at Saint Louis, but one more than mentor Wendell Look has accomplished. York is seven victories away from becoming just the 27th coach in Hawaii high school history to win 100 games in a career. He has won at least eight games every year since 2011.

Junior quarterback Brendyn Agbayani took a lot of grief for the offense’s struggles, but he still managed to throw for 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns on 343 attempts, the fewest chances since Gabriel had 339 in his sophomore year. It’s not fair for compare Agbayani with those who came before him, especially since he didn’t have the embarrassment of riches Milton and Gabriel enjoyed, but he did throw more interceptions (20) than touchdowns (18) and got only 5.8 yards per pass attempt. The previous quarterbacks put up the following numbers before Agbayani took over: 7.6, 8.0, 7.8, 11.1, 9.7 and 7.1, a drastic difference. Agbayani threw at least one interception in every game except one and went over 200 yards just twice including a career-best 270-yard effort in a blowout at the hands of state champion Saint Louis. The Crusaders more than figured him out, though, limiting him to 74 yards on 23 attempts and putting three interceptions on him in the season finale. Agbayani’s yardage and touchdowns for the season were the lowest for the program’s leading passer since Milton had 1,620 and 16 on 115 fewer attempts while splitting time during his sophomore season.

With RJ Javar off to Moanalua, York stuck with Agbayani all season and was rewarded with a gamer who made every start. Esaiah Gideon, Wynden Ho’ohuli and Arona Sagapolutele all joined Agbayani with touchdown passes.

The defense wasn’t the only part of the game to make a resurgence for Mililani in 2019, as the running game had its chances. York dialed up a true 50/50 split between run  and pass after a 63/37 split the previous year with Gabriel under center. The new philosophy didn’t add up to ball control, though, as Mililani ran nearly five fewer offensive plays per game in 2019 compared to 2018.

Malosi Sam was the big boy, getting 158 carries and turning it into 704 yards. Both of those numbers were the most for the program since Vavae Malepeai‘s senior season in 2015, but his eight touchdowns were two fewer than Kilifi Malepeai had last year in 55 fewer carries. Sam started the season a house on fire, burying Campbell with 259 yards on 43 carries and three touchdowns in the season opener with Maa Tanuvasa calling the plays.

That yardage was the third-most in a single game in school history, behind only Brian Daniels in 2000 and Vavae Malepeai in 2015. York returned from a suspension the next game, and Sam never approached the same numbers, not even getting 20 carries in a game and missing two contests in the middle of the season. He returned to earn 88 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns against Farrington, but saw his carries fall off a cliff after that and closed with 14 yards on eight carries against Saint Louis.

Jasiah Alcover got some run in Sam’s stead, earning 596 yards on 121 carries with five touchdowns, a yardage total that would have led the team in the previous two years. Alcover’s best game came against Kamehameha in tandem with Sam, covering 124 yards on 18 carries. He also broke the century mark on 19 carries against Liberty (Nev.), but like Sam, his carries dwindled as the season went on and he finished the year with 20 yards on five carries against Saint Louis and didn’t have a touchdown run after week five.

Raysen Motoyama was next up on the depth chart with 67 yards on 12 carries and Micah Kim turned his 11 carries into 43 yards and a touchdown. Twelve different Trojans earned carries this season. Agbayani was strictly a pocket threat, losing 211 yards on 28 carries including sacks.

Kanoa Gibson was Agbayani’s top receiving target, hauling in more than twice as many passes as the second-leading receiver with 57 for 916 yards and 11 of the team’s 21 touchdown receptions while not missing a game. That leaves Kalakaua Timoteo‘s alma mater with its fourth straight season without a 1,000-yard receiver.

Gibson started the season with a career-high 140 yards on 10 catches against Campbell and went 8-138-2 against Liberty three weeks later. He went over the century mark three times, the second year in a row the program has had a receiver do that. Gibson had a reception in every game except for one, but fizzled down the stretch with the rest of the offense and had only two of his 11 touchdowns in the last half of the season. He was held without a catch in the OIA championship game against Kahuku.

Jarin Kalama was a gamebreaker opposite Gibson, coming in second in receiving yardage (224) despite being only fifth in catches and being held out of the end zone despite his 11.8 yards per catch. Kalama saved his best for last, hauling in five catches for 53 yards in the finale against Saint Louis. Mystic Sampaga, Rayson Motoyama and Kai Banks were more dependable, combining to catch 71 passes for 561 yards and four touchdowns. All three of them missed at least one game and none of them had more than four catches or more than 59 yards in a contest. Some of that had to do with Agbayani’s ability to spread the wealth, as 19 different receivers caught passes this season and nine of them caught at least one touchdown pass. Sam and Amina were not much of a threat out of the backfield, with Sam catching 10 passes and Amina hauling in just one.

York never rebuilds, and he will have a lot to work with next year in Agbayani’s senior season. Sam is expected to return along with fellow rising seniors Sampaga and Hoohuli. Pono Hookano, Banks and Kalama all have two more years.

Mililani head coach Rod York watched from the sideline against Farrington. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.


Brendyn Agbayani13180-343-202,00018
Esaiah Gideon314-23-0931
Wynden Ho'ohuli131-1-0751
Arona Sagapolutele54-8-0531
Malosi Sam111587048
Jasiah Alcover121215965
Raysen Motoyama1212670
Micah Kim1311431
Bam Amina137360
Wynden Ho'ohuli132350
Kamalu DeBlake138191
Mikey Agasiva130100
Arona Sagapolutele56100
Pono Hookano7110
Esaiah Gideon36-30
Brendyn Agbayani1328-2110
Kanoa Gibson135791611
Jarin Kalama9192240
Mystik Sampaga11241991
Raysen Motoyama12241972
Kai Banks10231651
Pono Hookano7131531
Rayvin Yacapin34861
Asher Pilanca131751
Malosi Sam1110662
Jasiah Alcover129460
Dayne Dowsett11321
Koa Kalama46230
John East22110
Nik Geraci1170
Arona Sagapolutele5170
Bam Amina13160
Ransen Motoyama1150
Micah Kim13130
Lance Mintz1100
Mililani wide receiver Kanoa Gibson (1) got past Saint Louis safety Kamo’i Latu (15) during the first half of an Open Division game in September. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Mililani took the field with linebacker Mark Pasternak holding the Trojans flag prior to a game against St. John Bosco. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Mililani running back Malosi Sam (9) picked up yards against Punahou. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Mililani quarterback Brendyn Agbayani (7) was tackled by Bosco defensive end Matthew Jordan (32) during the first half. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Mililani defensive lineman Manu Penitani (51) forced a fumble by Farrington running back TJ Paleafei (11) that was recovered and ran back by Mililani linebacker Muelu Iosefa (49). Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Mililani wide receiver Kanoa Gibson (1) leaped to haul in a pass over Punahou defensive back Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen (15) during the third quarter. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Mililani linebacker Kamalu Deblake (35) recovered a fumble and ran in for a score during the first quarter. Photo by Steven Erler / Special to the Star-Advertiser.


  1. CL December 29, 2019 3:49 pm

    So proud of that defense! Props to the Defensive coaches and Mililani’s DC the last three years, Vince Nihipali.

  2. 808 December 29, 2019 5:16 pm

    If they can find themselves a Quarterback, they’ll be fine.

  3. cmon December 30, 2019 7:20 am

    Hope Rod York finds a new O.C. The offense is so predictable. Same plays over and over.

  4. HI HS FAN December 30, 2019 12:25 pm

    Coach York knows what his needs are and the recruiting has begun. Talk of a couple of quarterback transfers from other schools, receivers, linebackers, and defensive backs joining his program has fueled a lot of speculation that York is reloading and looking for a season of redemption. Some of these transfers are already participating in 7X7 passing scrimmages, with it leading to the Pylon 7×7 tournament in Vegas in February.

  5. ILoveHawaii December 31, 2019 9:07 am

    Milville had a stacked team this last season, they were just missing one very important position.
    I am so excited to see who he will recruit to fill in that position. Will it be one of the uku million they have at Lulu?? Will he draw a current starter from another HS to jump ship?? Will a player return from the mainland to play their senior season in Hawaii?

  6. observer December 31, 2019 9:14 am

    Yep, heard all kinds of kids transferring in and kids transferring out because they dont want to play for the coach. Heard some crazy stuff thats going out there in Millville. Its like college, coaches reaching out to players to play for them lol. But i guess you gotta do what you gotta do to win right.

  7. Wendell December 31, 2019 9:59 am

    York gotta give up the OC position…Only good as a recruiting HC….belongs at a private school at this point in his career…

  8. WestSideD January 1, 2020 3:12 pm

    That Defense was legit. Flew around like wild men. What they were doing looked hard to block, never saw DeLaura throw for only 99 yards against any defense. Punahou couldn’t block that defense either and their Q only threw for 130ish. That was fun to watch

  9. I eat ramen for breakfest January 3, 2020 1:31 pm

    Defense was legit!. Need new trigger man.

  10. HNLV FOOTBALL FAN January 3, 2020 7:29 pm

    Heard they have a QB transfer from Bishop Gorman. Played JV at a rival OIA school. Leaving because won’t get shot or playing time on that school’s varsity. Good RPO QB. Too bad the high school he transferred from wasn’t going to give him a fair shot to earn the job. Look out for this kid b

  11. HI HS FAN January 3, 2020 7:43 pm

    Mililani has acQB transfer who played JV at another OIA Open Division school. Was starter for Bishop Gorman’s youth teams his 6th-8th grade years. His former OIA school wasn’t going to give him a fair shot to compete for the varsity QB position.

  12. Bryce January 5, 2020 2:30 pm

    any idea who it is?

  13. bryce January 5, 2020 2:34 pm

    i’m guessing it’s micah alejado?

  14. 808 Football January 6, 2020 1:13 am

    I’m assuming it’s Maka Novera, Class of 2022. Played in Kahuku JV but wasn’t the starter. Definitely, wouldn’t get any PT bc of Tiger Adolpho & Jason Mariteragi being the same age.

    With that being said, I don’t think he’s the solution, if he couldn’t start for Kahuku, what makes him think he can start for Mililani.

    Mililani is better off getting a St. Louis transfer or Micah Alejado attending there.

  15. 9th Island Crusader January 6, 2020 10:09 am

    New 2022 QB transfer from Bishop Gorman/Kahuku is Good fit for Mililani. I am a St. Louis grad that moved to Las Vegas 9 years ago. I currently coach 14u youth Football here on the 9th Island. I must say that Playing agaist Makavelli Novera made me a fan of his. Not only did he have a outstanding Championship youth football career here in vegas with BishopGorman youth team, but he helped Bishop Gorman Gaels freshman team go undefeated. Hey (808Football), have you watched Novera highlights on youtube? The kid is Legit. Plus, we heard Kahuku lost 2 QBs (Novera & Suavao) because their head coach Sterling Carvalho is the uncle of Tigre and Toa and he Favored them. As a fan of Mak, i cant wait to see what a Great progam like Mililani and York does with this Talented kid. Wish Mak was at St.Louis. Great RPO and kid is fearless. Go get em Mak. Aloha from the 9th Island Crusader. Coach Mike

  16. HI HS FAN January 6, 2020 4:33 pm

    Agree with 9th Island Crusader, Novera is definitely legit. Unfortunately, like most schools, influences by parents, boosters, or community leads to favoritism. That being said, this kid could be the QB York needs to get the offense rolling again. Last years QB was more than capable, but Novera can give them the type of QB they had with Gabriel and Mackenzie.

  17. Eddie K November 18, 2021 8:08 am

    Lol, but Mak is third string now with Mililani. Not even considered to play as a senior. York went with a freshman. Why didnt he stay at Gorman?

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