Holding on to the ball is a major part of successful football. Ask any coach. It’s one of the most fundamental things.
Already an underdog, the Farrington Governors fumbled way the ball four times to put themselves even more at disadvantage in Friday night’s 34-7 OIA Open Division semifinal loss to Mililani.
On at least two of those fumbles, it was a case of the dropsies and not unlodged by contact. To make matters worse, Farrington backup quarterback Kulana Pate threw two interceptions.
All told, the Trojans’ defense won the turnover battle 6-1. That’ll make your day brighter if you’re wearing the brown and gold. For the maroon-clad Govs, it makes you want to shake your head.
“Everybody was clicking tonight in all aspects of the game,” said Mililani linebacker Mark Pasternak, who had two sacks and a fumble recovery that led to an offensive touchdown. “In the front, the D-line was putting pressure and if the whole defense is working as one like that, a lot of picks and fumbles can be made. When you hit guys and the ball comes out, you gotta make the most of it and you’ve gotta recover it. It’s a special thing. You finish it and close it off. The D-line is causing the quarterback to rush his throws and the backfield is holding on and doing their jobs.”
Pasternak was asked if Mililani is ready for the league title game and beyond.
“We’re ready,” he said. “The offense is clicking and the defense is doing all right, but there’s always room for improvement.”
So now it’s on to the Open Division championship game next Saturday at Aloha Stadium, where Mililani will try to win a second straight crown. The Trojans (8-3) will meet the winner of Saturday night’s Campbell (5-4) at Kahuku (6-3) game.
Mililani’s win also clinched a spot in the Open Division state tournament.
Muelu Iosefa, Sonny Semeatu and Kamalu DeBlake also had fumble recoveries for the Trojans. Asher Pilanca and Kiai Ramos had the picks.
Offensively, the Trojans showed a lot more spark than in a 3-0 loss to Punahou last week. Kanoa Gibson caught five passes for 77 yards and a TD, and quarterback Brendyn Agbayani went 15-for-29 for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
After the win, Trojans coach Rod York said the shutout loss to Punahou “stung.”
“We’re thankful for this win,” he added. “Farrington was tough. Their defense is real good. I’m happy with the win. We will look at the tape and make corrections. We look forward to a great matchup (either Kahuku or Campbell). That will be a tough one (Saturday) night.
“Three of our last four games have been against the No. 2 (42-10 loss to St. John Bosco), No. 7 (54-21 loss to Saint Louis) and No. 23 (Punahou) teams in the nation. But we learned from that experience and we got better. Our defense was tough (against Farrington). Coach Vince (Nihipali) and Coach Ma’a (Tanuvasa) and the staff are doing a helluva job. We always hang our hats on our defense. I’m happy that we’re peaking at the right time.”
The Govs, despite a 2-8 record, still have life. They play the Campbell-Kahuku loser next week for third place in the OIA and a state berth. The loser of that one is eliminated from the postseason.
Christian Havea had an outstanding night for Farrington with six receptions for 95 yards.
But not keeping possession was a killer for the visitors.
“Every time we had something positive, we turned over the ball,” Governors coach Daniel Sanchez said. “Picks, fumbles. That’s not going to win us any games, especially against a team like this.
“The season’s not over. We’ve got next week and we’ve got lots of fixes to make offensively.”
Farrington was playing without elusive and speedy running back Raymond Millare (concussion). Two quarterbacks suffered injuries against the Trojans — starer Darius Chaffin (rib) and Pate (broken collarbone), according to Sanchez.