Two words: McKenzie Milton.
If you don’t know by now, he makes the Mililani offense go, and he’s been doing it for two-plus years. Milton and the Trojans defeated Kahuku 44-30 on Friday night in a scrimmage at Mililani’s John Kauinana Stadium.
At times, Kahuku pressured Milton, but the senior quarterback still found holes to pass and run through in leading the way.
It was a statement game of sorts for the Trojans, the defending state champions who stopped the Red Raiders in the OIA title game, 20-7, a year ago. Head coach Rod York‘s Trojans, who also beat Leilehua in a Thursday scrimmage, knew the importance of a good showing this early in the season against one of the squad’s main competitors.
“I’m proud of my guys,” York said after the teams shook hands. “Kahuku brought its ‘A’ game and we brought our A-plus game. Overall, it was good, but we have a lot of corrections to make. We had three touchdowns scored against our twos (second-string defense). We were in scrimmage mode and they were in scrimmage mode. We’re going to get better and they’re going to get better.”
Kahuku, under new coach Vavae Tata, was primed to come in and show it deserves to be considered a contender for the throne. The Red Raiders were outplayed, but there were plenty of positives.
“It was a great litmus test,” Tata said. “And we have a long way to go. We’ll be ready for Campbell next week. We’ll be looking at the tape and making fixes first thing in the morning.”
Tata believes the Red Raiders need improvement with tackling on defense and blocking on offense, but he was highly impressed with the running game.
Harmon Brown scored twice on long runs and added two 2-point conversions for Kahuku, and teammate Sefa Ameperosa picked up huge chunks of yardage. Ted Kenese added two late rushing touchdowns, and Aaron Tapusoa notched a 2-point conversion for the Red Raiders.
Bryson Ventura caught two touchdown passes from Milton for Mililani and Kalakaua Timoteo had one TD reception. Milton sped away from tacklers on many pass plays to make completions, and he also sprinted to the end zone for long scores twice.
Kilifi Malepeai, a freshman, also got into the scoring act for the Trojans with a short TD run, while Isaiah Kuloloia kicked a field goal.
Malepeai’s older brother Vavae Malepeai, a two-time Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State choice and an Oregon commit, did not play due to turf toe. The senior is due back next week. Jalen Olomua, a transfer from Kahuku, started and turned in a strong effort at running back for Mililani. The two Malepeai boys are nephews of Kahuku coach Tata.
Trojans defensive end Kaimana Padello and defensive back Tielu Mamea also did not play due to injuries.
Kahuku veteran running back and quarterback Kesi Ah-Hoy sat out with a groin strain.
Red Raiders quarterback Jordan Mariteragi, a transfer from Kamehameha, looked sharp, playing most of the scrimmage.
Maka Chun, Mililani’s backup quarterback, played in several series near the end of the scrimmage.
Among the other noteworthy plays were two sacks by the Trojans’ Tyrell Niuatoa, and interceptions by Mililani’s Dustin Gapusan and Ramsey Tacadena and Kahuku’s Stokes Nihipali-Botelho.
Mililani of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Blue and Kahuku of the OIA Red won’t play each other again this season unless they meet in the league playoffs or the state tournament.
Mililani hosts Kamehameha on Saturday night at 7 p.m. for its third scrimmage in three days. The Trojans will also scrimmage Saint Louis at home on Aug. 8.
Kahuku returns home to take on Campbell next Friday in Tata’s first regular-season nonleague game.