It’s a fair question.
Why are we covering a scrimmage? Make that plural, since I was at two of them (partially) yesterday.
Even better, why are they keeping score at the scrimmages here at John Kauinana Stadium in beautiful Mililani? And why are both teams warming up with the kind of fiery intensity usually reserved for a state-tournament game?
Questions, questions, questions.
Who knows exactly what the answers are. I just know the setup by Mililani — scrimmages against Leilehua, Kahuku and Kamehameha on consecutive nights — is just what Trojan Nation has longed for. No admission? Nice. But the atmosphere is buzzing. Electric.
Will Mililani play starters a full half? Or just a series? McKenzie Milton, the returning all-state offensive player of the year, played a half last night against the Mules. My gut says both teams will play full bore for one half, then get their looks at the depth chart after that. I’m expecting mistakes, great plays and full-throttle football. It begins at 7 p.m.
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Holy moley. The scrimmage began 10 minutes early at 6:50 p.m. Good thing I didn’t run down to get that missing fork for my kaukau. First play, Mililani runs for 8 yards. Next play, Kahuku has Milton almost sacked right up the middle, but he breaks free somehow, and tosses a dying duck to a receiver who breaks it for a 72-yard TD. Holy moley. TROJANS 7, RED RAIDERS 0.
Kahuku wastes no time. Bubble screen cutback for about 40 yards. Then an I-formation dive on the left side up the gut for 25 yards and a TD. Big Red goes for 2 on the PAT, I formation and blast on the right side good. RED RAIDERS 8, TROJANS 7.
All in less than 5 minutes of real time.
Mililani’s second series, still conservative. Lots of short passes, screens. Milton looks to run middle on a QB draw; two Red Raiders waiting for him and he squeezes out a few yards. MIL finally takes a crack downfield. Left WR open on a streak, ball slightly overthrown. Kahuku looked vulnerable on that; safety was playing deep (sorta).
Trojans burn a time out on third-and-8 and pick up a first down on a quick toss and run. Bubble screens working for the team in yellow. Coach Rod York calling a fine game.
(Sorry, I posted some info here that seems to have disappeared. Probably the mess of posting photos by iPhone and words by laptop.)
The Trojans opened the second quarter by driving nicely. Big gain by a big RB for 25 yards around left tackle on a nice zone read by Milton. Then Milton scores on a keeper, 11-yard TD. Kick wide left. TROJANS 16, RED RAIDERS 8.
MIL goes three and out, short punt. Nice wheel route for a 20-yard gain that would’ve been a TD but the ball was underthrown. Then Mililani gets a sack on fourth-and-10. Right up the middle.
The Trojans score again. Milton scampers for his second TD on the left side, around 40 yards. SECOND GEAR. PAT is good. TROJANS 23, RED RAIDERS 8.
Kahuku now driving nicely. No. 25 with a blast up the middle, untouched for 30 yards on a 40-yard pickup. Big Red pounding up front and gaining momentum. Another first-down run out of the I for Coach Vavae Tata’s unit.
Third and long, Kahuku runs left. No. 36 nice job letting the play unfold, scores from 13 yards out, easy run to the pylon. Kekoa Sasaoka not getting any PAT work in tonight. Kahuku goes for 2 and No. 36 rips through the middle untouched for the points. TROJANS 23, RED RAIDERS 16. Still second quarter.
Nice test for the Kahuku front seven on third-and-5. York calls another draw that gains 4 yards. Trojans pick up the first down a good second-effort run by a RB who bear-crawled with one arm to get the first down. Next play? A post route by Timoteo, who catches Milton’s pass and breaks a tackle for a 52-yard TD. Explosive. Kahuku almost had a chance to tie this scrimmage. TROJANS 30, RED RAIDERS 16.
I have to say… I’ve never cared about a scrimmage — or been more entertained by one — that this one tonight. And just like that, Kahuku picks up 20 yards on two carries. SMASHMOUTH.
Halftime: Mililani 30, Kahuku 16.
Kahuku not playing badly. Offensive line has a nice push, cranking out yardage on the ground. Passing game will need time, of course. Defensively, they’re doing as well as I would’ve expected against a defending state champion with a first-team all-state QB and a first-team all-state WR. Mililani’s O-line getting the job done against a physical front seven. A couple of breakdowns in Kahuku’s secondary, but fixable. For the most part, they’ve kept Mililani’s passing game under some sense of control.
Kamehameha, with its eight returning starters on defense, will get its shot at the Trojans tomorrow night.
Third quarter underway. Kahuku runs three times, no gain. Punt. Five-yard boot.
Mililani goes bubbly with a screen to Timoteo for 18 yards, shredding tacklers. Milton’s play-action at the 4 is off target. Third and goal from the 2, blast up the middle, TD. PAT: snap bounces, holder gains control, good job and the kick is good. TROJANS 37, RED RAIDERS 16, 7:23.
Kahuku’s next series flounders. Two sacks by the Trojans. Punt goes 18 yards.
Milton still in the game…
First snap on the ensuing series, bust in the backfield (RB) and Milton runs backwards for a 29-yard loss. Get him out?
Nope. After a time out, Milton comes out slinging. Two completions for 50 yards. Then a short pass stuffed, and a keeper by Milton and he takes a lick. Third and 8 coming up. Milton overthrows a receiver on a medium route and is picked off by Kahuku’s No. 4. Big return of about 60 yards, but Kahuku loses 15 yards for taunting after the play.
Kahuku’s drive ends quickly. Receiver in the seam not even looking for a pass 20 yards downfield, just sprinting to the goal line. Ball is intercepted by a safety who was just standing there.
Third and 10 for Mililani, sack by Big Red. Milton took a blast there. Third quarter almost pau. I’d be surprised if he stays in one more quarter. Mililani’s high, short punt hits the synthetic turf and dribbles forward another 15 yards. Keala Santiago picks it up and races around the right side for a nice 20-yard return. Mililani player down on the play. Leg injury.
Fourth quarter underway. Set at 10 minutes. I thought this was a 12-minute format. Anyway, Milton still in the game. The first two plays after Kahuku’s three-and-out punt were quick passes wide. Third down pass on an out route is deflected by Santiago, who wraps up the receiver. Sound football.
Almost unfair. Kahuku had Milton dead to rights on third and 10, but he slips away, rolls left, buys time before connecting with Timoteo for a TD pass in the left corner of the end zone. TROJANS 44, RED RAIDERS 16.
Trojans get the ball back with less than 6 minutes to play. Milton finally takes a rest. Both sides have a lot of kinks to work out with their reserves. It’s a different world when more than 1,000 fans under the lights are watching something that used to be more about reps for third stringers. It still is, of course, just a different scene.
Lot of penalties by both sides with reserves playing heavy now.
Nine-yard blast up the middle for Kahuku’s No. 33 into the end zone. Two-point PAT run is good, another I- formation blast on the left. TROJANS 44, RED RAIDERS 24, 3:44.
It’s No. 33 scoring again for Kahuku. Believe it was a stretch play left. PAT run no good, penalty? Kahuku tries a pass that is completed (I think) but no points added to the board. Whaevahs… TROJANS 44, RED RAIDERS 30, 1:25.
Final: Mililani 44, Kahuku 30.