There are few streaks that never end.
It’s just that Kahuku’s 51-game home winning streak seemed unbreakable. Omnipotent. It carried an aura of its own, and the invincibility permeated life on the North Shore. That came to a halt on Saturday night with a resounding 38-10 loss to No. 4 Mililani (6-2, 4-0 OIA Open).
No. 2 Kahuku (4-2, 1-1) simply couldn’t get access to the state’s all-time career record holder in passing yardage, Dillon Gabriel. The southpaw passed for 312 yards and two TDs. He threw the ball 47 times near and far, sideline to sideline, and completed 31 of those targets. Last week, he found 10 different teammates for completions. On Saturday, it was nine Trojans who hauled in Gabriel spirals.
“Mililani is who we thought they were, a well-coached team with a great quarterback,” Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho said. “They had a great game plan and Dillon made me a believer. I had a chance to congratulate him and talk to him later.”
The protection was there all night. Kahuku did not record a sack, and though they controlled Mililani’s running game — the Trojans rushed for 31 yards on 21 carries — the Red Raiders clearly miss their standout middle linebacker, Miki Ah You.
Ah You had surgery to repair his ACL, which was injured three weeks ago against Saint Louis. He won’t be on the field physically with his teammates the remainder of the season, but in spirit, he is there 100 percent.
“Miki addressed the team when the MRI results came in the next day,” Carvalho said. “We had a team meeting. He said, ‘I’m just one person, one player. The next man up and we still play as a team. We win as a team, all 70 players.’ He gave a great speech. He’s our unquestioned leader on the team. You lose that example and intensity, but when he addressed the team and said he would be there to support them, our team rallied about them. It kind of showed in the Kamehameha game.”
Mililani became the first team to beat Kahuku at Carleton E. Weimer Field since Oct. 26, 2007, when coach Darren Hernandez’s Kapolei Hurricanes, sparked by quarterback Mason Koa, stunned the Red Raiders 14-7 in a playoff game.
The 28-point loss was Kahuku’s worst against a Hawaii opponent since opening the 2008 season with a 35-0 defeat against Kamehameha.
Saturday’s win, Mililani coach Rod York said, isn’t quite the same. Though Mililani won the turnover battle (2-0) and had two sacks, it won’t carry weight until the postseason, he noted.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s just regular season. (Kahuku) is missing guys, they have a new offensive coordinator. They’re not the same team Saint Louis faced,” York said.
Kahuku got going offensively in the third quarter when quarterback Robbie Sauvao started to work the left side with the option. He finished with 117 rushing yards on 13 carries, including a smooth 55-yard keeper that included a fake pitch that froze a Mililani defender.
Mililani made its tweaks and didn’t let the slippery Sauvao score again. Kahuku finished with 152 rushing yards on 33 carries, but averaged just 4 yards per pass attempt against Mililani’s stubborn defense.
“We just needed to play our keys better. We tried to take away the middle and we got exposed (by Sauvao),” York said. “It’s a chess match.”
The streak ends. Their stellar LB is out. Kahuku has a new OC, and the offense was dangerous at times. They even opened the game offensively in hurry-up mode. RB Wes Alo-Maiava rushed 12 times for 33 yards, and also caught six passes for 40 yards. That’s thrilling to think about, after seeing what he could do a year ago before he suffered a leg injury. Even bulldozing RB Toalei Lefau was targeted four times in the passing game. Mesmerizing.
Kahuku is in position to make another run deep into the playoffs and state tourney. It’s just going to take some time. Some patience.
“We’ve got time, but at the same time, we really need to focus and buckle down. That’s all it is. Now being able to fine-tune what we do best and work on what we need to, to get better,” Carvalho said.