Rod York leaves no stone unturned. He has traveled near and far in his thirst for knowledge, become a human hard drive of offensive theory and, perhaps most impressively, teaches with as much effectiveness as perhaps any coach in the islands.
Whether it’s building a top-shelf staff or developing players from the youth level, York has unbeaten Mililani in position to win the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I football crown. All that stands in the way is behemoth Kahuku. York chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Wednesday.
HPW: I know you said recently that you like playing every week. Your team has had its share of oddly-timed byes in the past few seasons.
York: The break was good. We gave the boys some time off. It’s always good to heal. Just extra days of watching film and seeing things you normally wouldn’t see in one week. It’s a positive.
HPW: What did you see with the extra time, something Kahuku does that you wouldn’t have seen with just a few days to prepare?
York: The more I film I watch, the more I realize how good they are. You look at the results they’ve gotten, basically you can’t block them and they’re coming from all angles. The Bingham game, to travel that far and do what they did they did pretty good considering their first-string QB didn’t play.
HPW: Kahuku coming from all angles, and without bringing the house. They stick to base defense almost every time.
York: Their defense and special teams are off the charts, to be honest. It’s kind of like the (Super Bowl champion Baltimore) Ravens team when they had Trent Dilfer and all those studs, Ray Lewis. Ed Reed. The thing about it is they’re young. These guys are sophomores and juniors.
HPW: It seems like the only bugaboo for Kahuku might be penalties, though it’s not a major problem.
York: We’re the same way. Sometimes, we have less penalties and we have a couple of games where we lead the nation in penalties. It depends on the crew you and how you adjust to what they’re calling. It’s crew to crew. One game against Waianae, we pancaked a lineman twice, and we got two holding calls.
HPW: Kahuku hasn’t played a team that has the hurry-up as fast as your offense, the kind of cohesion in the passing game as yours. Do you anticipate they’ll tweak some things to cover your four-wide, cover Dillon Gabriel running for first downs?
York: Kahuku is going to do what they do. I don’t think they think like that. They don’t want us to pass the ball so they’ll bring pressure.
HPW: Key guys like Jalen Olomua and Darius Muasau are healthy?
HPW: Who has played stellar and pretty much been under the radar this season for you?
York: Our D-line, we have two studs up there who we think should be getting college offers, and they have no offers. Mykah Tuiolemotu, is our defensive leader and captain. And our sophomore, Shane Cady. He runs a 4.7 40. He’s actually a LB and we moved him to D-end.
HPW: How about in the secondary?
York: Dylan Miguel, one of our safeties. He basically went from being a non-starter to a starter and captain. He changed everything. His study habits, his attitude about academics and life in general. A 180-degree turnaround. We can do some things with him, man to man, over the top. The thing about him, he can tackle. He can hit.
HPW: The leadership on offense, it goes deep and it starts from the point man. I’m always amazed at the poise and field vision of Dillon Gabriel. And he’s still just a junior. How much leash can you give him against a defense like Kahuku?
York: He’s called plays before and he may call some in this game. He’s been playing tremendous, threw just six picks and five were not even his fault. Our receivers ran wrong route. Everybody can always be better. His decision-making is better, he’s comfortable in the pocket, comfortable getting out of the pocket. He can run the RPO (run-pass option) and spread option, two backs and spread it, run the slot offense. He’s hungry. He wants to play for the University of Hawaii. Can you put that out there? It’s hard to brag about your own kid.
I’ll tweak our offense to match UH’s offense, a lot of RPOs, Dillon is doing a lot of things as far as two backs. I went in and copied (assistant coach) Craig Stutzmann’s plays. We’re uptempo, snap the ball within 10 seconds. I’m a UH graduate, a big supporter. I was hoping McKenzie (Milton, currently at UCF) was going to UH. I didn’t know he was going to be that good, that fast. It’s not just because of his speed. Dillon’s got the same fire. He’s still young. He does things you don’t see. He bugs me for film, has a 4.0 GPA. We’re meeting 9 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) to study video. He joined our Mill Vill program and brought us into the upper echelon. We didn’t beat Laie Park and Ewa Beach, but he brought us up. Some of the great QBs like (Leilehua’s Andrew) Manley and (Bryant) Moniz, they didn’t get the best blocking occasionally, but they got right back up, and thats what McKenzie and Dillon do. They don’t yell at the guys. Hopefully, Rolo (Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich) offers him, and he goes up and changes that program. He makes he guys around him better. His decision-making can be better. He’s always lifting weights, always trying to get better.
HPW: He has one offer so far.
York: He got an offer from Navy. Thank God for Kenny Niumatalolo. But we’ve got to prove it this Saturday.