It could happen all over again for the Farrington Governors.
A year ago, they took a 27-point loss in a late September meeting with Mililani. That spurred Farrington to four wins in its next five games. The momentum came to a halt in the postseason, at the hands of Mililani, but it was a narrow 17-14 contest the second time.
Mililani looked every bit the defending state champions, every bit like a team that has not lost to an island opponent since 2013. Thursday’s night’s 71-28 win by the Trojans did nothing to stifle Govs coach Randall Okimoto and his belief that the best is yet to come for a fairly young Farrington team.
“When you have guys graduate and new guys come in, they kind of have to learn the same way, almost,” Okimoto said. “Last year, it was a blessing to get beat. We were humbled, and when we met (Mililani) in the playoffs we played better. That’s the way it goes. Sometimes you’ve got to take a loss for the guys to learn.”
The loss is a sour taste for a team that began the season 4-0 in OIA Blue play, 5-0 overall.
“No disrespect to the other teams, but when you play a good team, that’s what’s going to happen. All those deficiencies will come out,” Okimoto said. “That’s just the way it is. So, it’s humbling, especially for our defense, to get scored on that much. The key is how are we going respond. So hopefully they come back and work harder, they ask themselves, ‘what did I do wrong and what can I correct.'”
The Govs were at the mercy of the Trojans’ prolific offense for much of the night. McKenzie Milton threw for four TD passes on 21-for-29 passing and Vavae Malepeai broke Joe Igber’s career rushing touchdowns mark — Malepeai now has 57 TDs on the ground. The Oregon commit tallied 134 yards on just 14 rushing attempts.
“It says a lot about our blocking the last three years,” Mililani coach Rod York texted on a late night when the game concluded at precisely midnight. “I’m proud of the O-line and wide receivers and slots. Team game.”
Kalakaua Timoteo was dangerous as usual with five receptions for 130 yards, including three TD hauls.
But it was Mililani’s defense that seemed to return to form since returning from Las Vegas. The Trojans didn’t completely shut down Farrington running back Challen Faamatau, who finished with 132 rushing yards and a TD on 21 carries plus a TD reception. But they managed to keep him under some control, and they never let the Govs’ passing attack reach full throttle the way it had in recent weeks.
Bishop Rapoza passed for 102 yards (10 for 22), throwing for two TDs and catching another on a trick play. Wherever Governor receivers went, the Trojans were there, sometimes with double coverage. No Governor had more than 40 yards in receiving yardage. The Trojans clearly did their homework.
“If there’s any weak spot for Mililani, it’s their defense, as they showed before. They play well together, they feed off their offense. They played really well,” Okimoto said. “To tell you the truth, I expected our offense to do better, but like anything else, we have to go back to the drawing board.”
Now the Govs have to evolve if they hope to compete for the OIA title.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking to lose, but you know, that tells us we have to prepare more, prepare better,” Faamatau said. “That’s starting from film. We’ve got to know our assignments. That’s what really killed us, our offensive assignments. We got Kapolei next week. They’re just like Mililani, so we’ve got to prepare.”
Faamatau was his usual even-keeled self, but he noted that his team’s hopes rest on their approach on a daily basis.
“We’ve got to learn from our mistakes. Now we know what to do, what not to do. Guys gotta come to practice and prepare better, with a better attitude and a better mentality,” the senior added. “The intensity has to really be up there every day.”