Essentially, it’s Mililani’s ‘O’ vs. Kahuku’s ‘D’

Stopping Mililani's Kalakaua Timoteo will be a priority for Kahuku in the OIA championship game. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser
Stopping Mililani’s Kalakaua Timoteo will be a priority for Kahuku in the OIA championship game. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

One team won with ease. One barely scraped by.

That was the OIA semifinals on Thursday night, and we are left with a showdown that pits the league’s best offense hands-down (No. 2 Mililani) against, arguably, the league’s best defense (No. 3 Kahuku) on Halloween night.

Of course, there will be people who argue that the Trojans (10-0) have the best defense, and they may have a point. The Red Raiders gave up one more point than Mililani, 104 to 103, during the regular season, but it should be noted that Kahuku’s defense was on the field a sizable amount of time more than the Trojans’.

There are those who say the Mililani offense is unstoppable, and that certainly has been true all season. But, as Trojans coach Rod York likes to say, “It’s grind time.”

So, what happened in the regular season doesn’t mean the same will hold true in the OIA title game and states.

York was happy with his team’s 47-15 win over No. 6 Campbell (7-3), but he was still worried about some breakdowns.

“Credit Campbell, but we weren’t keeping our responsibilities, not listening. Our scheme is simple. Follow the scheme, don’t have a mental lapse, do your assignments.”

Kahuku (8-1) got some big plays from Keala Santiago, Alohi Gilman and Tuli Wily-Matagi to get past No. 5 Farrington 21-14.

Leading 7-3 late in the third quarter, both players combined to tackle scrambling Farrington quarterback Montana Liana on fourth down to finish off a goal-line stand.

Then, on the next play, Santiago beat his defender badly and hauled in a 95-yard TD pass from Wily-Matagi for an 11-point lead.

Kahuku's Braxton Medeiros stopped Ranan Mamiya of Farrington in his tracks last week. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser
Kahuku’s Braxton Medeiros stopped Ranan Mamiya of Farrington in his tracks last week. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

“We were ready to pin ’em and they come back and score on that long pass,” lamented Govs coach Randall Okimoto after the game. “That woke us up.”

Farrington (7-2) fought back to tie it 14-all, but with time ticking down the Red Raiders got a 53-yard kickoff return and a 29-yard reception by Gilman before Kesi Ah-Hoy found a huge hole for a 4-yard rushing TD and the win with 10 seconds left.

“We thought it was going to overtime and then they had that long kickoff return, and those long passes killed us,” Okimoto said.

Wily-Matagi only completed five passes in the game. Coach Lee Leslie said the senior quarterback almost didn’t start because of wrist and knee problems.

“I was especially worried about his knee,” Leslie said. “But he said he could go and he did a great job.”

The Kahuku locker room was rocking after the win.

Leslie, the first-year coach, was visibly happy after the dramatic ending. Even though the Red Raiders are 8-1, there were doubts about their offense during a rocky midseason stretch.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Leslie said. “We went up against a great football team, and we’re going to be going up against a great football team in Mililani.”

Most people are under the assumption that offenses are way ahead of defenses in high school football, and that does appear to be true. If it holds true in the OIA title game, Kahuku doesn’t have a chance.

But there is another side of the coin, and that’s the old saying that offense wins games and defense wins championships.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Kahuku linebacker Manaia Atuaia said. “Defense will be key.”

Added safety Malcom Macatiag: “We need to contain their quarterback (McKenzie Milton), who is very fast and shifty, and their running back (Vavae Malepeai). If we do that, we’ll be doing good.”

Including the playoffs, the Red Raiders give up an average of 13.1 points per game.

The Mililani offense, on the other hand, has scored an average of 45.8 points in its 10 games, and that includes a 2-0 forfeit win over McKinley.

On the flipside, the Red Raiders offense scores 31 points per game, and the Trojans defense allows an average of 17.9.

But that’s all in the past.

The only fact that really matters now is that Mililani’s offense has scored nearly at will on every opponent.

So, if you are in the Red Raiders camp, you know that this one is squarely on the defense’s shoulders.

And judging by what Hawaii football fans have seen all season, a great defensive performance might not be enough.


  1. maukamakai October 28, 2014 12:45 pm

    The odds are against Kahuku for sure but they won’t go down with out a fight. Other prolific offenses like St. Louis and even Moanalua to an extent were able to score fairly easily against the Mililani D. But those two schools defenses were no where good enough to stop the Mililani offense. I think Kahuku has a lot more to offer then the other top OIA teams that lost to Mililani (Farrington/Campbell) and the red raiders will expose Mililani on both sides of the ball, if the Red Raiders do end up losing then Punahou will see those trojan weaknesses and be able to plan accordingly to beat Mililani in the State title game.

    GoBig Red!

  2. posterized09 October 28, 2014 3:40 pm

    This is the same exact thing people were saying when Kahuku went up against Morikawa. The week before, they struggled against Leilehua and won 14-7. Leading up to the Champsionship game against Morikawa and Mililani, everyone and their mama was saying that Kahuku will get pounded by Mililani. Well, the rest is history.

    This offense might not be the same as that year, but the defense is almost as good. Should be a good game. Go Crusaders!!! 🙂

  3. Nick Abramo October 29, 2014 12:23 am

    excellent comments!!!!
    Morikawa was great, but Milton is better and more poised and has a better cast and a better overall offense.
    The Kahuku defense is great, and the offense has its moments. If they get into a game of trading touchdowns, well, that certainly favors Mililani. But if the score is 3-0 at the half or 10-10 or something like that, it’s playing into the hands of Kahuku. Campbell vs. Leilehua was, I think, 7-7 at the half, and that type of score was playing right into the hands of Campbell.

  4. John mauia October 29, 2014 8:32 am

    Excellent comments
    But one thing you have to remember is that if you have watched film on kahuku’s defense they are not fundamentally sound giving up yards against farrington and allowing montana liana to pass at will and also allow them to run the ball. Another thing to take into account is the tough games kahuku had all season which were LEILEHUA, KAISER, KAPOLEI. leilehua game kahuku’s so called great defense yes they came up with the win but offensively if you cant put any points up simpy put YOU WILL NOT WIN A GAME. Kaiser BEAT KAHUKU and where was that so called great defense of kahuku allowing a mediocre running back, quarter back, wide out numbers such as 100yds rushing,321yds passing 2 TDS,177yds receiving 1TD. Furthermore the kapolei game was just a stroke of luck only putting 9 points up against a very very less talented kapolei. All in all teams Mililani smashed wake up people you have to see the stats for what it is and not downplay it or push it aside. Simply put obivously credit is not being given where its due and kahuku fans be ready for a ONSLAUGHT of trojans friday night because it will be a LONG SAD RIDE back to the north shore and as for the punahou comment lets just say if the crusaders could put up numbers and almost beat them and mililani beat st. louis PUNAHOU WILL BE EXPOSED…#TROJAN#NATION

  5. Keep Talking October 29, 2014 5:05 pm

    Bradda Johnboy You may be right but you goin off da paper!The game is played and won on da field.Much respect to Mililani and their prolific Offense butttttt, they never had played against a Defense as Tough as Kahuku ALL SEASON LONG!G’luck to the trojans, u might have given them that kiss of death thas why…

  6. Facts-808 October 30, 2014 1:04 pm

    Im sorry Kahuku fans but you cant beat Mckenzie Milton. Trojans 58, Kahuku 6 (give you a free touchdown with 10 seconds left)

  7. Keep Talking October 30, 2014 1:30 pm

    Milton is one Player not a GOD….i wish i knew your face because your face is goin be priceless when the games does not go in your favor lol

  8. Keanuenue October 30, 2014 2:13 pm

    I agree defense wins games. In order to beat Mililani, Kahuku will need to do what no other team has done. Keep the Trojans offense of the field. This will come down to Kahuku’s OFFENSE controlling the ball and the time of possession. If Kahuku accomplishes this, they will place themselves in a position to win the Game.

  9. Recruiter808 October 30, 2014 5:15 pm

    Please forgive these Mililani fans. They are only used to their Marching Band having all the successes. It should be a good game.

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