Mililani’s Vaisen Viloria felt ready and his coach thought he was ready.
And when the big test came, Viloria’s first varsity football game turned out to be as memorable as they come.
A sophomore, Viloria was brought up to the varsity after the JV season ended. During a few weeks of practice he earned a starting role and went wild for three interceptions Friday night at Aloha Stadium.
Viloria returned his third pick of the night 7 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on the Trojans’ 24-2 victory over Campbell in the Open Division semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.
His second interception was more important. It came late in the third with the Trojans holding a 10-2 lead and Campbell driving into Mililani territory. It led to quarterback Dillon Gabriel‘s 2-yard TD run to make it 17-2 early in the fourth.
“I found out from my friends when I was going up from the JV,” Viloria said. “They came over and said, ‘Bro, you’re (moving up).’ Then the coaches told me. At that time, I didn’t know I was going to start, but I worked for it. It was really fun, going out there and doing my job with the defense executing on every play.”
Mililani coach Rod York said defensive coordinator Vince Nihipali made the decision for Viloria to start Friday.
“It was a big decision that coach Vince made,” York said. “He does a great job and he had full confidence in Vaisen and what he’s done. Vaisen has done this at Millville (Jr. Prep Sports team), at the JV level, and, man, he came through for us tonight, no question.”
Viloria’s arrival on the scene caused a bit of a hubbub in the press box, since —- due to a clerical error — he is not listed on the HHSAA roster and some reporters were wondering who the “other” Trojan wearing No. 3 was. Gabriel, the quarterback, also wears No. 3.
Viloria’s father, Danilo Viloria, played for Campbell back in the day and had Nihipali as a coach.
“But I’ll be the better one,” Viloria added.
Second-ranked Mililani (10-2) meets No. 1 Saint Louis (10-0) in the championship game next Saturday at Aloha Stadium. Campbell, ranked No. 5 in the state, is done for the season.
Asked how he thought the Trojans will do in the finale, Viloria said, “We’ll see. I’m pretty sure we’ll be very confident.”