There will be late nights and early mornings and everything in between for Rod York.
Any time, night or day, is potentially study time for the Mililani head football coach. With a 52-35 win over Leilehua on Friday night, Mililani earned a first-round bye in the upcoming Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I playoffs. In that sense, maybe York, his staff and players will take some time off to refresh.
Maybe not. York will likely be in research mode, studying every potential opponent. In learning about his 2016 Trojans, the curve has been a roller coaster, not just one ride up and down, but a whole bunch from week to week. The Trojans are at a point where adjustments and game plans are soaking in with more ease and efficiency.
It was never more clear on Saturday, with two freshmen starting on the offensive line. York and his staff have a meritocracy of sorts; age is no barrier to promotion. And yet, there they were, two ninth graders doing battle in the trenches against the Mules. With an emphasis on ground-and-pound playcalling, the O-line paved the way for running backs Darius Muasau (16 carries, 121 yards) and Jalen Olomua (15 attempts, 95 yards). It was a three-TD night for Olomua, who transferred from Kahuku before the 2015 season.
“It’s about blocking the right guys. Sometimes, we don’t,” York said.
With Muasau and Olomua gashing Leilehua’s interior, quarterback Dillon Gabriel was opportunistic. The lanky sophomore scored on TD runs of 1, 3 and 1 yard on zone reads, and finished with 242 yards of total offense. There was little the Mules could do to curb Mililani’s ground attack; when they committed to stopping the run between the tackles, Gabriel tucked the pigskin and cashed in. In all, the visiting Trojans rushed for 309 yards on 53 carries, not including two kneel-downs by Gabriel to close the game.
Gabriel passed for 161 yards and a TD (13-for-26), but he also rushed for 81 yards on 11 carries. He isn’t bulky or powerful enough to steamroll oncoming tacklers, so he does the occasional slide or runs out of bounds, but he took his share of contact and emerged just fine.
He didn’t get nearly the totals of his counterpart, Kona Andres (301 yards on 22-for-42 passing), but Gabriel and the Trojans had far more consistency thanks to that pulverizing ground attack. Andres finished with two turnovers; Gabriel had none.
“Dillon is part of the run game. He’s done a great job with reads,” York said.
The Trojans, coming off a loss at Kailua, are growing up.
“We’re not playing where we need to, but we’re peaking,” York said.
The production was especially nice for the Trojans since Kailiohu Kila, who led the team in rushing coming into the game, did not play.