Rod York knows the trenches well.
The former ‘Iolani and Hawaii defensive lineman is also a lifelong student of the game. Some people naturally are afraid to ask for help. York has always embraced any opportunity to add more to his bank of knowledge. The result at Mililani is a perennial powerhouse that grasped the read-pass option concept early on and teaches it all the way down to the youth level.
York’s unbeaten (9-0) team will meet Waianae in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I semifinals tonight at Aloha Stadium. He chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Thursday.
HPW: How do you feel about this matchup with the Seariders?
York: It’s all about our execution and our attitude. We already know Waianae’s going to be tough. We’re ready.
HPW: Your team earned a bye in the first round, the first break since before week 1.
York: We’d rather play every week, but from a coach’s point of view, we get extra time to scout and do the homework part of it.
HPW: What do you see when you watch Waianae?
York: You can’t stop Rico (Rosario), you can’t stop their slots and their running game. That’s Waianae. But what you can do is try to slow them down. But they have a deadly passing game. Their quarterback doesn’t get enough credit, and they run the wing-T offense. Their defense is good.
HPW: I haven’t seen Waianae since early season. If their passing game has developed that much, I’ll take your word for it.
York: If his slot or receiver is open they connect. That quarterback could play in our offense. He’s pretty good.
HPW: What’s the mind-set been like since the playoffs began?
York: I feel good that the kids are ready. When they’re ready, I feel better.
HPW: One of the questions I have for coaches is about the state tournament. Last year, four OIA teams played in the HHSAA’s Division I tourney. This year, it’s none. Last season, you had an interesting perspective after Mililani didn’t qualify for the Open Division tourney.
York: I can say last year was the pilot year and our team, when we went into the Division I bracket, we played three games and each game we grew. As a team, it was good for our kids. It’s funny because we looked at it as new life. It was the Hawaii Bowl for us. It wasn’t playing for the No. 1 ranking, and we had the potential to do it but didn’t get it done.
HPW: So it was a chance to get your players two, three more weeks of reps and game experience, similar to what college teams get to have.
York: Those last three games for us were tremendous. The attitudes and mentality-wise, we grew exponentially. We played at Baldwin. At home against Leilehua, and in the stadium against ‘Iolani. It was three extra games to teach the kids how to keep battling, how to turn failure into success. It was a good chance to play ‘Iolani in the postseason, and they’re a much better team in the postseason. It was great for the fans. It was great to battle them on the field, and not on paper.
HPW: Would you be in favor of OIA teams playing in the D-I state tourney again?
York: I can only share my experience. I don’t have an opinion about it beyond that.