After Mililani’s first preseason game, coach Rod York explained the Trojans’ shift in offensive emphasis as simply tailoring the scheme to their personnel.
At times last year, the Trojans went without a running back in a five-wide set and York let quarterback Jarin Morikawa use his smarts and accuracy to move the Mililani offense through the air.
This time around, York is calling for handoffs with far more frequency, and with confidence in the offensive line and a back like Vavae Malepeai, why not?
Malepeai has increased his output each of the season’s first three weeks, posting his most productive performance to date in Mililani’s 35-0 win over Kapolei on Friday night.
Malepeai finished the night with 156 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. The touchdown runs of 1, 1 and 4 yards actually dragged his average per attempt down a bit, but that figure was still an impressive 7.2 yards after the game.
He carried the ball just five times in the second half against the Hurricanes, ending his night with a 58-yard sprint.
Malepeai’s total gave him the Trojans’ highest rushing performance since Zachary Payomo ran for 158 in a 42-35 win over Leilehua on Oct. 9, 2010.
Payomo ended that season with a 150-yard game in a loss to Waianae, his seventh triple-digit game that year. The Trojans featured a 100-yard rusher just once over the next two seasons — Dayton Furuta’s 118-yard night against Baldwin in last year’s Division I state tournament.
Malepeai has two such performances in the past two weeks, going for 139 against Punahou and increasing his season total to 369 yards and seven TDs after Friday’s game.
As for the passing game, Mililani quarterbacks McKenzie Milton and Robert Faleafine still attempted 28 passes between them with both throwing touchdowns. Bronsen Ader caught a game-high eight passes for 116 yards and also set up Malepeai’s first touchdown with a 44-yard run.
Conversely, Kapolei was without leading rusher Triston Pebria on Friday and managed just 71 yards on the ground.