The matchup: Waianae (7-2) vs. Mililani (8-1)
Date: Friday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m., Aloha Stadium
Head-to-head: Waianae leads 19-9
Last meeting: Mililani 44-24 (Aug. 30, 2013)
Biggest margin of victory: Waianae 40-0 (Sept. 3, 1993)
Smallest margin of victory: Waianae 7-6 (Nov. 3, 2006)
Waianae’s offensive leadersUpdated: Nov. 13, 2015
|Jordan Marquez Pacapac||1||1||3||0|
Mililani’s offensive leadersUpdated: Nov. 14, 2015
Four games into his sophomore season, Mililani quarterback McKenzie Milton went 12-for-23 for 207 yards and two touchdowns in his second career start — a 44-24 win over Waianae.
In the first meeting between the two schools since, the Trojans might have another young sensation making his second career varsity start at quarterback.
Freshman Dillon Gabriel became the third different starting quarterback used by the Trojans this season in a 48-13 win over Moanalua last week to set up this semifinal showdown against Waianae set for 8 p.m. Friday at Aloha Stadium.
The Trojans have been without Milton since he hurt his shoulder in a win over Kailua on Sept. 26. Mililani has played twice since, averaging 54 points in two wins over Na Menehune.
Running back Vavae Malepeai, who is now fourth on the all-time career rushing list with 3,937 yards, has averaged 263.5 rushing yards in his last two full games without Milton in the lineup. That’s allowed Gabriel, who was 12-for-22 for 140 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, to get his feet wet without feeling any significant pressure in games.
Waianae is hoping to give the lefty his first real test.
The Seariders bounced back from an ugly 30-0 loss to Kahuku with an impressive 37-22 victory over Kailua in a must-win game in the OIA quarterfinals. The Seariders defense intercepted Surfriders quarterback Noah Auld three times, matching his total for the entire season, and held Kailua to 39 rushing yards on 18 attempts.
It makes for an intriguing game against the Trojans, who have looked unstoppable against teams from Hawaii. Problem is, in the one game they did lose, the Trojans were a mash unit on defense and got run all over by Kenyon Oblad and company.
That bodes well for the Seariders, who aren’t going to deviate from what they do — run the rock. Of either semifinal game on Friday night, the Mililani defense trying to contain the Seariders rushing offense figures to be the most intriguing matchup of units on that field. If Mililani wants to be a state title contender, especially without Milton, who may not return this season, it can’t afford to get run on like it did on the mainland in a 76-53 loss to Liberty High in Nevada.
Malepeai has carried the load so far, but with each passing game that gets tougher, the Trojans will have to be balanced on offense. Outscoring opponents like it could with Milton will be much tougher without him, so much so that the defense is going to have to keep opponents to a respectable score each game in order to win.
Waianae can be a real measuring stick for the Trojans. Shut the Seariders’ rushing attack down and Mililani shows it can get this done without Milton. Don’t, and suddenly this OIA semifinal game could be up for grabs.
Gabriel seems to have learned quickly where to go when he needs to make a big play. Both of his touchdown passes last week against Moanalua went to senior Kalakaua Timoteo, who is 18 receiving yards away from 2,000 in his career.
If Waianae can hold off Mililani early and make it a game, the pressure will eventually fall on the Trojans’ young QB. This is a big stage, especially for a freshman, and the amount of pressure the Seariders can put on the inexperienced, but talented QB could determine whether Waianae plays in its first OIA title game since 2007, or Mililani goes for a three-peat next week.