By all accounts, the Mililani offense downshifted when it turned to backup quarterback Dillon Gabriel on Saturday night.
Ahoy, it would have been a downshift no matter who Trojans head coach Rod York threw in there. You simply don’t replace the value of McKenzie Milton in one night. Just not possible. Milton has been a mainstay at the position, a star, if you will, since his sophomore year and he has all sorts of stats and accolades to back up his standing.
Gabriel is a freshman, so let that fact sink in for a bit until we start the next paragraph.
If the last name sounds familiar, you are right on target. Gabriel is the son of former University of Hawaii star Garrett Gabriel, and he was brought up from the junior varsity team to play in Saturday’s scrimmage at home against Kamehameha.
York didn’t say if the left-handed Gabriel would stay with the varsity, but he was impressed with the kid’s performance when both teams’ second and third strings were in the game.
“Did you see the way he moved the offense?” York asked rhetorically. “He makes the reads and we don’t have to lock down the routes because of it. And he’s a great kid.”
Garrett Gabriel watched the scrimmage and was proud of his boy, too.
“He still has a lot of work to do,” the dad said. “But he likes learning. I love the system here in Mililani with Coach York, and the community support is great. Dillon looks up to McKenzie; he’s such a great role model to have and is someone with a great work ethic. And if he (Dillon) works hard, maybe he can flourish.”
For the 5-foot-9, 150-pound Dillon Gabriel, who was a starter for the Punahou intermediate team last season, it was a new experience, playing a varsity-level contest.
“It was different because of the speed of the game,” the younger Gabriel said. “Now I know what I need to improve on. It was fun and exciting.”
Gabriel scored on a rushing touchdown and threw a long pass to AJ Burris to set up another as the Mililani backups outscored the Kamehameha backups two touchdowns to none.
The Warriors starters outscored the Trojans starters one TD to none, but each team’s first string had only one series of 10 plays to start the game before the second and third strings took over for the rest of the way.
Garrett Gabriel led Hawaii to upset victories over rival BYU in 1989 and 1990. Those two wins came after 10 straight losses to the Cougars going back to the Rainbow Warriors’ previous win over BYU in 1974 in the series that the Cougars lead 21-8 all-time.