Mililani coach Rod York got what he wanted Saturday against Nanakuli: his team wrapped up the OIA Red division title and his reserves got plenty of playing time.
Although the game wound up being fairly close at the end.
Junior Dillon Gabriel completed 31 of 45 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns as No. 3 Mililani beat visiting Nanakuli 44-33.
“It was a goal of ours and fortunately for us our kids played hard and executed,” York said of the division title. “Hopefully, we’re peaking at the right time.”
The Trojans (7-0, 6-0 OIA D-I) were in control for most of the game. They led 24-0 after the first quarter and 44-7 entering the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, Nanakuli reeled off 26 points, including three touchdown passes from Clyde Enos.
“For us, it was all about our 2s and 3s today,” York said. “They got a lot of playing time in the first quarter, throughout the whole game. We expect to compete. Hat’s off to Nanakuli, they did a great job.”
The Trojans’ Charm Lomibao intercepted the Golden Hawks’ first pass of the game and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. Kilifi Malepeai added a 1-yard touchdown run, Reichel Vegas caught a 22-yard scoring pass from Gabriel and Damien Santiago made a field goal in the first quarter for Mililani. Santiago finished with three made field goals on the night.
The Golden Hawks (1-6, 1-5) were held to minus-19 yards of total offense in the first half.
The Trojans’ Kaysen Higa caught a pair of scoring passes in the third quarter as the 35-point mercy rule went into effect.
“Mililani is an explosive offense, full of athletes,” said Nanakuli coach Kili Watson. “You try to pinpoint one part of it and they’ll find a puka somewhere else.”
Gabriel, who did a masterful job of executing the short passing game, completed passes to 15 receivers.
“Just with all the guys that came out during the summer, we’re all around each other for a long time,” he said. “Just that and being comfortable with each other, it helps a lot.”
One of the Golden Hawks’ defensive standouts was Chase Morgan, who had a 60-yard interception return for touchdown and a 28-yard fumble return for a score.
“He’s one of the key defensive leaders,” Watson said. “That’s the reason he’s a captain. He’ll go out there and be a playmaker.”
Enos finished 20-for-33 for 193 yards. Kaleo Banks, Reno Curtis and Po‘okela Pi‘ilani caught touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.
Watson added he was pleased with the fight his team showed late in the game.
“One thing I love about my Nanakuli boys is resiliency,” he said.
Trojans look great this year – should make for great OIAs.