Any moments of offensive rhythm between Mililani and Kahuku on Saturday night were like visits from a long-lost friend who couldn’t stay around to chat and catch up.
Kahuku got the better of a rock fight at Aloha Stadium, prevailing 7-3 to claim its 27th OIA championship and deny Mililani a repeat Open Division title and a fifth overall under coach Rod York.
The night started for Mililani with a clanged field-goal attempt off the left upright and didn’t get much better from there. The Trojans finished with 100 yards of offense.
The deciding play came on Kelsyn Tangaro-Kanoa’s 93-yard kickoff-return touchdown following Kaulana Navares’ 24-yard field goal giving Mililani a very brief lead with 5:37 left in the game.
It was quite a bit different outcome than a 32-0 home win over the Red Raiders way back on Aug. 16, the second game of the season.
“Well, first time was great plays, defense and special teams made great plays. Today, (Kahuku) did good on that kickoff return and we let that one go,” York said. “But everything is on me, the head coach. I’ve gotta get our boys better prepared. Credit Kahuku, man. They deserve it. They had the better team tonight. They played great defense and great special teams, and they did enough on offense. And we left our defense on the field too long.
“We just couldn’t get too much going ’til that last quarter.”
Unfortunately for the Trojans, the offensive struggles seen Saturday were nothing new.
In their last four games, the Trojans had a 21-0 win over Kapolei in which they did not score in the first half; a 3-0 loss to Punahou, the first time they’d been shut out since 2000, a span of 213 games; a reprieve from the struggles in a 34-7 OIA semifinal win over Farrington; and Saturday night’s slugfest.
Against the Red Raiders, Mililani was held to 30 yards on the ground and 70 yards in the air. That couldn’t get it done, though Kahuku was held to a similar total. Quarterback Brendyn Agbayani went 11-for-27 for those 70 yards and tossed an interception to Kahuku’s Kaonohi Kaniho.
York was asked of Kahuku threw a new defensive scheme at his team.
“No, no, no, they just played sound defense, you know?” he said. “When we had the throws, we hit them, but we didn’t hit all of them. I mean, shoot … we had plays in spurts. We tried to feed off of our defense. Our defense did their job, we had a lot of turnovers (gained), but we just couldn’t move the ball on that defense. Credit their defensive staff and their special teams coming through.”
The good news for Mililani is it has quite a bit of time to figure out how to put points back on the board. It won’t play in the HHSAA tournament until Nov. 22 against either Punahou or Saint Louis.