The Mililani football team has been busy on its California trip.
The Trojans watched a San Francisco 49ers practice in Santa Clara on Wednesday morning and then attended De La Salle’s high school practice in the afternoon in Concord. The team plans to attend the Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders preseason game this evening.
“They got to meet some of the 49ers players, including my main guy, (former Punahou star) DeForest Buckner,” Mililani coach Rod York said. “(Mililani assistant) coach Ma’a (Tanuvasa) set that up. Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers coach, was the waterboy for the Denver Broncos when Ma’a played for Kyle’s dad, Mike Shanahan.”
The opportunity to visit De La Salle was also a great thing for the team, York said.
“They’ve been consistently a top-10 national program for the last 30 years,” York added. “We do a lot of things similar — not scheme-wise, because they are option and we are spread — but the simple things that make a huge difference.”
York is looking forward to his team’s next three games, a stretch of tough opponents. The third-ranked Trojans (3-0, 3-0 OIA Red) face Clayton Valley Charter in Concord on Friday. When they arrive home, they’ll visit No. 7 Farrington on Sept. 8 and travel to No. 8 Kapolei on Sept. 15.
“We’ll find out a lot more about our team over the next three weeks,” York said.
On game day Friday, the team will do study hall in the hotel before the contest.
York said this is one of his best Trojans teams attitude-wise.
“In the offseason, we found out what makes them click and we changed the mind-set of the our team,” he said. “We have a much better attitude. We still have some knuckleheads, but overall this is one of the best attitude teams I’ve had. The season is not done yet, though, and they may turn out to be the best.”
York credited defensive coordinator Vince Nihipali for helping with the overall defensive improvement this season.
He also talked about Kilifi Malepeai, the brother of all-time Hawaii high school leading rusher Vavae Malepeai who has emerged as a standout runner.
“He’s not Vae,” York said. “He’s different. He’s the younger brother. He’s got a different body type. I liken him to the Jerome Bettis or Chris Fuamatu-Maafala type. A big back with moves. He can cut in between the tackles or bulldoze, but he’s not the turn the corner type.”
Teammates have said Kilifi, who is 5 feet 11 and 230 pounds, is an extra hard worker, and York doesn’t dispute that.
“He’s never missed a workout and he’s never been late for a workout,” the coach said.
The Clayton Valley Charter Ugly Eagles are 0-1, having lost their opener to Reed (Sparks, Nev.) 38-22 last Friday.
Click here on Friday at 3:50 p.m. Hawaii time to watch the Mililani vs. Clayton Valley Charter game on the NFHS Network: http://bit.ly/2gshA1G.