OIA D-I title preview: Kahuku vs. Mililani

Kahuku plans on running it right down the throats of anyone trying to stand in its way. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku plans on running it right down the throats of anyone trying to stand in its way. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The matchup: Kahuku (10-0) vs. Mililani (9-1)
Date: Friday, Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m., Aloha Stadium
Head-to-head: Kahuku leads 10-2
Last meeting: Mililani 20-7 (Oct. 31, 2014)
Biggest margin of victory: Kahuku 40-2 (Sept. 2, 2000)
Smallest margin of victory: Kahuku 33-30 (Sept. 11, 1981)

Kahuku’s offensive leaders

Updated: Nov. 21, 2015
Kesi Ah-Hoy1322-46-13454
Cameron Renaud1110-21-01711
Kekona Neumann75-11-1411
Jordan Mariteragi32-4-2250
Ted Kenese70-1-000
Kesi Ah-Hoy132211,26918
Harmon Brown1312279214
Sefa Ameperosa9926698
Ted Kenese7312143
LeRod Tongi1022756
Cameron Renaud1116612
Steven Lombard410570
Vaikona Tuifua46230
Michael Mauai33220
Keala Santiago121210
Aaron Tapusoa122180
Kaniela Jones11160
Jordan Mariteragi32-20
Kekona Neumann77-171
Pua Falemalu581561
Keala Santiago125661
Kekaula Kaniho124900
Royce Pao44400
Harmon Brown134340
Morgan Capillan23431
Ocean Tuia22511
Siave Iafeta22110
Draeton Thompson11300
Kesi Ah-Hoy131261
Stennett Alapa11180
Stokes Botelho13190
Noah Magalei1171
Kawika Macy1110

Mililani’s offensive leaders

Updated: Nov. 14, 2015
McKenzie Milton9139-211-72,34430
Kaysen Higa938-85-35367
Dillon Gabriel446-82-14727
Cy Kuboyama-Hayashi217-23-12414
Maka Chun44-6-0430
Bryson Ventura100-1-100
Vavae Malepeai132271,93028
McKenzie Milton9434252
Makana Tauai13141251
Jalen Olomua1015851
Nicholas Culp410611
Fabian Johnson-Slay514571
Dillon Gabriel412522
Deven Ieriko515471
Stanton Lee21130
Rico Sallas112120
Maka Chun46112
Tommy Factora2190
Iain Vaovasa1140
Bryson Ventura10200
Andrew Valladares8100
Cy Kuboyama-Hayashi21-50
Kaysen Higa915-71
Kalakaua Timoteo12701,34522
Rico Sallas11414212
Bryson Ventura103673310
Makana Tauai13364944
Andrew Valladares8172892
Vavae Malepeai13101715
Chad Senas781262
Noah Thomas34150
Noah Domagsac13650
Tommy Factora33491
Nicholas Culp43260
Jarod Alama22180
Takai Villisoni22150
Jacob McLaughlin11200
Roman Tovi11120
Roy Ibrao11110
Kainalu Wong1190
Jordin Villanueva1190
Jalen Olomua10170
Tasi Malepeai1140
Stanton Lee21-10
Fabian Johnson-Slay51-20


>> This is the eighth consecutive season either Kahuku or Mililani has advanced to the OIA title game. The last one not to involve either team was Leilehua’s 12-3 win over Waianae in 2007. The Mules went on to win the state title.

>> Kahuku won the first eight meetings in this series before Mililani scores its first win over the Red Raiders in the 2013 OIA semifinals, 37-22.

>> Trojans RB Vavae Malepeai, who is averaging 98.5 rushing yards in two games against Kahuku, became the second Trojan to top 100 rushing yards against Kahuku in that 2013 win with 141 yards. The other? Dino Gipaya rushed for 197 yards against Kahuku in a 33-30 loss on Sept. 11, 1981.

>> Kahuku has thrown for a total of 372 passing yards in the entire 2015 season. Mililani has had a QB threw for more than 372 passing yards in one game seven times since the start of the 2011 season and three times this season.

>> Kahuku QB Kesi Ah-Hoy was the only Red Raider to catch a pass in last year’s 20-7 loss to Mililani. He had three receptions for 14 yards. Kahuku did not complete a pass in last week’s semifinal win over Farrington.

The matchup

For now, what Kahuku has on the table is something that even longtime Red Raider fans haven’t seen. Their one-dimensional offense in the past three games, a double-tight end, two-blocking-back, no-wide-receiver look, hasn’t used counters, traps, jet sweeps or anything beyond straight-ahead gashing.

Quarterback Kesi Ah-Hoy (982 rushing yards, 15 TDs) tweaked his previously injured ankle during last week’s OIA semifinal win over Farrington, but is expected to suit up. Ah-Hoy ran the ball in his team’s first 21 plays, picking up 133 yards. He finished with 23 carries for 174 yards.

Even with Ah-Hoy on the bench, Kahuku has ample talent out of that wildcat QB position. Harmon Brown and fellow RB Sefa Ameperosa have been outstanding with the ball.

It’s something the league has not seen, probably, since the infancy of football in the islands. The pain of standing there, trying to stop this stampede, one play after another. Kahuku normally runs more than 45 or 50 times per night. No defense has been able to slow it, let alone stop it.

“We’ve got some things that we’ve been working on and basically to take what they give us,” Mililani coach Rod York said. “The ball’s going to go to the playmakers. None of it works unless we win it up front. We’re going to try our best to stuff the run and make them throw the ball. Tackle and hold them. We know we’re in for a war. We’ll see.”

Farrington showed some resistance early in the matchup with Kahuku last week. Governor players were injured on Kahuku’s first two snaps. By the end of the night, Kahuku had 298 rushing yards on 48 attempts.

That smashmouth offense has been a boost to Kahuku’s stingy defense. Though offensive coordinator John Hao has sometimes had the offense go into no-huddle, hurry-up mode, the clock keeps running and the defense keeps rejuvenating on the sideline. Jumping to big leads has usually put opposing offenses into a different game plan, and Kahuku’s defense has been willing to bend, and very rarely break.

One of the state’s top playmakers, Challen Faamatau of Farrington, was limited to 30 rushing yards on 12 carries and no yards on two receptions. Mililani’s record-breaking running back, Vavae Malepeai, hasn’t faced Kahuku since an early preseason scrimmage. The Trojans’ young quarterbacks, freshman Dillon Gabriel and sophomore Kaysen Higa, have not played against Kahuku on the varsity level. Milton, the Trojans’ all-state QB, is making progress and has started rehab on his shoulder, but still may not play again this season.

“It’s always great to have two different type of guys, but at the same time, they give us positives and whatever fits best,” York said of his QBs. “Both guys are wide-eyed and soaking it up like a sponge. It’s good to have. We’ve got to build and that’s what we’re doing.”

Gabriel’s ability to throw the ball deep and take open field for yardage are two huge factors. Not that Gabriel seems to be affected by his youth or facing players two or three years older.

“That’s Dillon. He couldn’t tell you if he had a great game or not. Even though he’s quiet, he’s always looking to get better, asking questions and asking for film time,” York said. “Not knowing too much and being new to varsity is probably a good thing for him.”

Anything Gabriel and Higa can do through the air will release pressure off Malepeai, a 6-foot, 200-pound Oregon commit who has rushed for 1,453 yards and 25 TDs this fall.

So what happens when an offense averaging more than 56 points per game meets a defense that barely allows more than a field goal?

Kahuku has shown patience defensively, willing to give some cushion to receivers, making sure tackles between the 20-yard lines. They have not faced a receiver like Kalakaua Timoteo (51 receptions, 1,050 yards, 18 TDs), who had eight catches for a school-record 199 yards plus two TDs in last week’s 45-20 win over Waianae.

Gabriel is young, but was at his best on deep throws (297 yards, four TD passes). He’s also elusive. If Higa enters the game, he offers a bit more experience and a fine short-passing touch that might be one of the cures to beating Kahuku’s defense.

Easier said than done. Bradlee Anae returned recently and gives Kahuku a tall, aggressive defense end to balance out the range and reaction of OLB/S Hirkley Latu, another 6-4 playmaker.

Cornerback Kekaula Kaniho has been superb in coverage, arguably as athletic as safety Keala Santiago.

“Kahuku will pound you. They don’t stop, they don’t let up,” Timoteo said. “They have a really good secondary with Hirkley Latu and Keala Santiago. Those two guys are nothing to mess with. Kahuku is not just a run-stop defense, but they’re a good pass defense.”

One very astute observer is Cal Lee, who guided Saint Louis to the ILH championship last week. With brother Ron Lee running the offense, the Crusaders have mastered the four-wide passing offense for a long time with 14 Prep Bowl and two state crowns on their resume. Their version of the run-and-shoot is, to some degree, the inverse of what Kahuku’s jumbo smashmouth formation does.

“You can’t argue with success. They are undefeated. You can’t fault anybody for doing what they do with success,” Lee said. “They present problems. They have some big boys up there. A good running back. Ten guys blocking, it presents a problem, definitely,” Lee said. “(Ah-Hoy) is not real easy. When they’re just running at you, you have to hit some horses to stop him. It’s one thing to go and stop it. Nobody’s been barely successful trying to stop it.”


  1. Lee Boy October 29, 2015 7:19 pm

    Well it is the match up we all been waiting for all year. Kahuku smash mouth vs the irresistible force “Mililani’s offense”. If Mililani finds a way to slow down the run things could get interesting but I don’t think they can’t beat Kahuku without Milton Good luck to both teams. See you in the states

  2. GoBigRed October 29, 2015 7:20 pm

    So I’m going to assume Kahuku coaches didn’t return calls or texts…?

    Anyways…will be interesting to see the defensive adjustments by both teams.

    Is it Friday yet?!?!?!

    GO BIG RED!!!

  3. Hauula 93 October 29, 2015 8:28 pm

    Good luck to both teams and GO BIG RED….

  4. TGOD October 29, 2015 8:59 pm

    Yes, it is the match-up we’ve been waiting for. Both teams have earned it and deserve to be here. Good luck and safe play to both squads.

    Go Trojans!

  5. Homegrown October 29, 2015 11:30 pm

    Can’t wait! Kahuku preparing as if they’ll be facing Milton tomorrow. Wouldn’t be surprised if York pulled a quick one despite multiple reports stating he’s out. Gamesmanship. Go Big Red!

  6. Paper Crane October 30, 2015 1:08 am

    Injuries can breach any athletic scholarship?

  7. Fu'a Tapusoa October 30, 2015 4:20 am

    Good luck to both teams tonight!!! GO BIG RED!!!

  8. eastside808 October 30, 2015 7:36 am

    If Mililani can somehow score early and get ahead by one TD then it’s just keep up with Kahuku as far as scoring and Mililani can win the game. Gotta make Kahuku defense run from sideline to sideline to make this game interesting. Kahuku offense is going to score. I dont think there is any team that can stop them. This game reminds me of the playoff game between Kekaulike and Iolani back in 2007. Kekaulike had the ground and pound and Iolani was by air. Should be an excellent spectator game and fill the stands at Aloha Stadium.

  9. T. Au October 30, 2015 8:28 am

    The best are here in what has the ear marks of a great game. Good luck to both teams, play hard and stay safe! Go Big Red!!!

  10. AOK October 30, 2015 8:48 am

    @Paper Crane – An athletic scholarship offer means nothing until signing day. Signing day is usually the first Wed of February. Until then, UH’s offer to Milton is simply that. An offer, non-binding. If he re-injures himself, UH can easily withdraw its offer, and leave Milton with nothing. Hope this doesn’t happen obviously. I’m neutral on either team. But, confident that Kahuku will smash the Fr QB.

  11. GoBigRed October 30, 2015 8:50 am

    Mililani’s stats from last years game???

  12. Jerry Campany October 30, 2015 9:13 am

    At Aloha Stadium
    Mililani (11-0) 6 14 0 0 — 20
    Kahuku (8-2) 0 7 0 0 — 7

    Mil–Vavae Malepeai 2 run (kick failed)

    Kah–Salanoa-Alo Wily 13 run (Gabriel Pinheiro-Alves kick)

    Mil–Bryson Ventura 23 pass from McKenzie Milton (Jerrod Cunningham kick)

    Mil–Joshua Butac 40 pass from Milton (Cunningham kick)

    RUSHING-Mililani: Vavae Malepeai 20-56, Milton 8-28, Ventura 1-(-2), Team 2-(-5). Kahuku: Kesi Ah-Hoy 11-19, Salanoa-Alo Wily 9-70, Tuli Wily-Matagi 1-20, Lisiate Tovo 2-2, Pena Fitisimanu 4-13, Samuta Avea 5-(-22), Soli Afalava 3-10, Alohi Gilman 1-0.

    PASSING-Mililani: Milton 15-25-2-139. Kahuku: Wily-Matagi 2-5-0-10, Avea 1-12-0-4.

    RECEIVING-Mililani: Kainoa Wilson 2-21, Bronson Ramos 1-1, Malepeai 3-17, Ventura 6-26, Makana Tauai 2-34, Butac 1-40. Kahuku: Ah-Hoy 3-14.

  13. GoBigRed October 30, 2015 9:44 am

    Nice! Thanks Jerry!

    Should be interesting to see the differences.

    Malepeai is a much better runner this year but O line not as good.

    Milton out so backup QBs will have to step up big time.

    Mililanis front seven last year was MEAN! This years squad is a step down, especially in run D.

    KHS doesn’t have a bonfide passer so Trojans D can stack the box vs couldn’t do that last year. But putting 10-11 guys in the box vs us hasn’t worked in the past 3-4 games with teams who I feel have much better run D’s.

    Matchups galore in this one. Most excited to watch trenches and Trojans WRs vs KHS DBs.

    Wish I was there!!

    GO BIG RED!!

  14. Paper Crane October 30, 2015 12:06 pm

    @AOK,….better way to say it was if you already got an offer why play and get injured for life; just
    don’t play cause all them Red Bulldozer will make your injury permanent;..how’s that?

  15. Yo October 30, 2015 1:37 pm


  16. Check yoself October 30, 2015 2:21 pm

    Two different aspects of football ideology……
    Quick striking or run the clock ball possession whole quarter scoring?
    In my opinion, DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!!!
    Special teams comes into play as a bonus.
    Stop the run against Kahuku…. Trojans can win….
    Stop the run against Trojans….. Kahuku can win….
    Run the ball you keep their offense cold…. Changing games vitals wayyyy down.
    When standing around, not warmed up can cause dropped balls, offside penalties
    And the”HURRY UP WE GOTTA SCORE” mental errors.
    Quick striking passing will and can cause quarterbacks to become overwhelmed
    By D end and blitzing Lb causing 3 and outs….
    Whomever can stop the run will be the Champs!!!!
    Good luck to both teams…. Play safe play smart play clean….

  17. SimpleSimon October 30, 2015 2:52 pm

    Kahuku should drop their D-ends into coverage and blitz 2 LB’s. Vimahi and Anae are so tall they’ll disrupt the whole passing game. This should be an interesting game!!!

  18. AOK October 30, 2015 5:55 pm


    Kahuku 41-28

  19. Check yoself October 30, 2015 11:50 pm

    BOOM!!!! Kahuku is the better team tonight.
    Trojans only score was a defensive fumble recovery for six…
    Let’s see if the former champs can be reputable and take their
    loss in champion form. Sportsmanship is a big part of football…..
    There’s no crying in football….. No matter if your from another town…..
    Especially from Mililani…. Will there be a lesson learned!?!
    I say yes…. Stay humble….. Respect your community….
    Stick to your ROOOOOOTS!!!!!

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