Last week, it was Kahuku in the Oahu Interscholastic Association title game.
This week, it was defending state champion Saint Louis. For a second week in a row, the Mililani Trojans played unsurpassed football. Then, a mighty foe surpassed them. Mililani roared to a 23-10 lead, then saw Saint Louis ratchet up to a new level. The final score of Saint Louis’ 47-23 victory in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Open Division State Championships doesn’t tell the whole story.
What story? It’s the tale of how the pupil, Trojans coach Rod York, nearly toppled his mentor(s), Saint Louis gurus Cal Lee and Ron Lee.
In the end, Mililani quarterback Dillon Gabriel amassed 254 passing yards and 56 rushing yards, throwing for three TDs. That would normally be enough to beat most formidable opponents. The Trojans happened to face the most prolific offensive mind in state history — Ron Lee, the Saint Louis offensive coordinator — and he pushed all the right buttons after halftime.
Still, York took the brunt of the defeat on his shoulders.
“Man, they were just explosive. My fault. I just got to do a better job. I’m proud of my guys. I don’t put it on them. I put it on me,” he said. “Credit Coach Cal, his staff, the Saint Louis Crusaders, man, they have a helluva team. They showed it. They proved it. Nobody has done that to us. They got superior coaching and they got dudes from one through 100.”
Gabriel, an unpredictable junior, has fleet feet and a quick release that are surpassed only by his counterpart, Chevan Cordeiro.
“They balled. They are a good team,” Gabriel said. “They’re the best team in the state and they showed it, too. I didn’t play the best, so I blame it on myself. I just felt like I didn’t play up to par.”
He completed 23 of his 49 attempts and had one pick to go with three TDs, but much of that was Saint Louis’ adjustments after the half.
Gabriel became the 16th quarterback on Oahu to surpass 6,000 career passing yards and with a season to go, is on pace to break Tua Tagovailoa‘s state passing mark of 8,158 yards.
Nick Abramo contributed to this post.