The Mililani defense has been called a lot of things this year — from one side of the spectrum, weak, to far on the other side, unsung.
Whether the unit is weak or unsung or, one could argue, solid, one thing is for sure — it can scrap.
Linebacker Ma’a Tanuvasa was out there putting the hits on left and right again on Thursday in a 71-28 win over Farrington, and he added an interception that led to a TD. Defensive end Kaimana Padello never stopped coming at quarterback Bishop Rapoza (even on the many times Padello was pushed outside, Rapoza probably still saw the buzzsaw on its way) and finished with two sacks. Kaydin Benemerito added another sack late in the game.
Three Trojans players, however, epitomized the trademark scrappiness — defensive backs Ramsey Tacadena and Kainalu Wong and special teams warrior Jarod Alama.
Tacadena recovered two fumbles that led to scores, one in each half.
“Ramsey is a four-year starter, two on JV and two on varsity,” Mililani head coach Rod York said after the win. “He’s the kind of guy who never misses a practice. He’s a team guy and he’s one of our captains.”
Wong intercepted a pass for the second week in a row.
“There’s a battle going on at cornerback and he’s one of the guys in there,” York said. “He’s growing every time we play.”
Alama, for the second game in a row, recovered an onside kick that led to a score. That’s one thing he’ll be able to tell his grandchildren. Alama is also a receiver and punter.
“He does whatever he can to help the team,” York said about Alama. “He’s hungry and I’m very proud of him.”
The Mililani defense gave up 76 points to Liberty of Henderson, Nev., two weeks ago. That opened people’s eyes to the Trojans’ susceptibility, but they’ve fared OK in the last two weeks, giving up 6 points to Aiea and holding Farrington to 28.
It will get tougher. And the defenses the potent Mililani faces will get tougher as well, putting more pressure on the the Trojans defenders. It may get to the point where stops will be critical.
Asked to comment on the perception by some that the Mililani defense is weak, York didn’t really give his own definition of the unit. Instead, he talked about the opponents that were just vanquished.
“That’s a really good offense,” he said.