Last week, Dillon Gabriel was a junior-varsity quarterback for a very well-trained Mililani team.
Today, he’s battling for the starting job on the varsity, the same program that won the Division I state championship a year ago. Gabriel, a freshman who went to middle school at Punahou, chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Monday night.
Favorite food: Pizza, Domino’s pepperoni.
Favorite food by mom: Guisado (Puerto Rican beef stew).
Favorite NFL team: St. Louis Rams.
Favorite athlete: LeBron James.
Favorite place to hang out: The football field. That’s where most of my friends are.
Favorite class: Math. Any kind, I just like math.
Favorite teacher: I’ve had a lot of great ones, but I don’t have a specific one.
Dream college: Probably Washington.
Favorite TV show: ESPN.
Favorite movie: I really don’t have one.
Other sports: Baseball (outfield and first base).
HPW:: Isn’t your JV team in the playoffs?
Gabriel:: Yes, our JV got the No. 1 seed (OIA Blue).
HPW:: Do you have mixed feelings about not being with the JV guys?
Gabriel:: Oh no, I still talk to them and I see them in school. They’re all supportive. They’re cool with it. I’m just here to help out the (varsity) team. Whatever I can do while McKenzie is gone.
HPW:: Is it an open situation or is Kaysen (Higa) the locked-in starter?
Gabriel:: I really don’t know. Whatever is up to Coach Rod (York). We just compete every day as a team and it makes us better.
HPW:: Both of you guys have played for Mill Vill?
Gabriel:: I played this past spring season at the end of eighth grade.
HPW:: How much of a difference does that make?
Gabriel:: That probably helped me out the most. During Mill Vill that’s where I got down the reads and learned all the plays. Working out all the kinks. Coming into the JV season, it helped me transition.
HPW:: You guys looked like a JV machine in preseason.
Gabriel:: Pretty much all our starters, our line, are from Mill Vill. Our two slots, one of our WRs. We we all knew the plays and the terminology.
HPW:: it must’ve been fun.
Gabriel:: I think having this offense gives the skills an opportunity to make plays. Not a lot of offenses get to do that. I think of it as the Oregon offense. The QB can run and throw on the run. Being able to make plays, that’s what makes it fun, I think.
HPW:: Where did you play before Mililani?
Gabriel:: I played Intermediate football at Punahou. It’s not totally different offenses, but diferent in the playcalling, and Punahou is more of that West Coast. Some under center. not really reading, but locked plays. Over here, it’s a lot of reading, but that Mill Vill season helped a lot.
HPW:: What are your vital numbers?
Gabriel:: I’m 5-9, 150, about there.
HPW:: Your dad is well known. He must’ve been a good teacher as a former UH quarterback.
Gabriel:: When I was younger, mostly it was my dad. But ever since I went to Mill VIll, it’s been Joel Lane on Sundays. He helped out, my dad (Garrett Gabriel) helped out. Over time, I kept working at it.
HPA: And Joel’s a lefty like you. Is that something he shares notes with you about?
Gabriel:: We do actually talk about that. He helps me out with things he knows. I guess throwing to the opposite side. It’s not harder, but it’s not as easy as throwing to our left side. Getting my feet down, all that stuff.
HPW:: Coach York gives his QBs some pretty good flexibility.
Gabriel:: Our calls are whatever the defense gives us. Whatever they give us, we take. That’s kind of the philosophy. If it’s moving the ball slowly to the left or the right, whatever we have to do to get the yards, that’s what we do.
HPW:: Taking what they give, that’s definitely one of Rod York‘s commandments. His mantra. You must’ve heard so much about how great your dad was as a high school and college QB.
Gabriel:: I hear it sometimes, I let people talk about it. Sometimes he breaks out the old tapes just to watch, tapes of Hawaii. I’ve never seen any of Pac-Five.
HPW:: Your ball comes out so pretty, a smooth spiral. Not that your dad didn’t throw and play well, too. Let’s just say, your ball is a tad bit more aesthetically pleasing.
Gabriel:: Umm, I guess so.
HPW:: But of course, your dad has the accolades and the success, and most importantly, a lot of experience, to share with you.
Gabriel:: If it’s a mistake, he’ll try and correct it right then and there. After the game, we’ll talk about it. Correct what needs to be corrected. Try and stay with the positives and still fix what needs to be fixed.