Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said the Mules had two starting quarterbacks prior to their matchup with Mililani.
Sure enough, Kona Andres and Kaleo Aloha Piceno — Nos. 1 and 2 on the Leilehua roster — lined up side-by-side in the Leilehua backfield on the Mules’ first play from scrimmage on Friday. Andres ended up taking the first two snaps but alternated with Piceno in a 13-play opening drive.
Andres went on to handle the bulk of the passing duties while throwing for a career-high 301 yards and three touchdowns, two going to Piceno, in Leilehua’s 52-35 loss to the rival Trojans at Hugh Yoshida Stadium.
Piceno accounted for 204 yards of offense (33 passing, 86 rushing, 85 receiving) and three scores in the revival of the rivalry between the neighboring schools. He scored Leilehua’s first touchdown of night as a running back when he took a handoff up the middle, was initially stuffed, then broke outside and bolted down the Mules’ sideline for a 50-yard run in the first quarter.
The Mules mustered little more in the first half and fell behind 31-7 going into halftime. They got back on track after the break when Andres completed a hitch pass to Charles Moku Watson, who raced down the sideline for a 67-yard touchdown on the second play of the third quarter.
“His presence changes things,” Tokuda said of Watson, who finished with 89 yards on three receptions.
Piceno scored on a 9-yard reception with 9:35 left in the game to cut Mililani’s lead to 38-28. The Trojans answered with a touchdown and Piceno struck again, taking a screen pass and slipping between two defenders before running away from the Trojans for a 56-yard score. But Mililani again held serve to cap the highest scoring game in the rivalry’s 38-game history.
Earlier in the week, Tokuda said offensive coordinator Bobby George, a former All-State quarterback at Saint Louis, devised a system that allows Andres and Piceno the latitude to often pick their roles on a particular play. While Andres spent most of the night at quarterback, he also caught a pass from Piceno for a 9-yard completion during a fourth-quarter drive that ended with Piceno’s 9-yard touchdown reception.
“Coach Bobby controls some of it, certain set plays, but he gives them the freedom to go play with it and have fun,” Tokuda said on Thursday.
After generating just 34 yards while being outscored 17-0 in the second-quarter on Friday, Leilehua reached the end zone on four of its first five possessions of the second half. But the outburst wasn’t enough to catch Mililani and the Mules closed the regular season at 3-4 in the OIA Red.
Leilehua ended left the field in fifth place in the division but could climb a spot — and into a host role for the first-round of the OIA playoffs — if Castle (3-4, 2-4) were to knock off Kailua (3-3, 3-3) on Saturday.