When Trojans look like Ducks

Mililani's Vavae Malepeai benefited from a huge hole by his blockers in a win over Campbell on Friday. Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.
Mililani’s Vavae Malepeai benefited from a huge hole by his blockers in a win over Campbell on Friday. Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

Rod York was a defensive lineman at UH.

He’s now the engineer of a offense that scores 53 points per game. That’s what being an observant, logical and intuitive student of the game can do.

For two quarters, his Mililani Trojans were stifled. Sure, they had 15 points on the scoreboard at James Campbell High School. But if not for one of Tielu Mamea’s three interceptions, which led to a Trojans touchdown shortly before halftime, the men of Troy could have trailed 14-7 at the break.

With Campbell rolling on both sides of the ball — Mililani had just 101 yards of total offense by halftime — homecoming felt quite sweet for the Sabers. But Mamea read their sophomore quarterback (Ezra Savea) so well for much of the night, thanks in large part to a pass rush led by Kaimana Padello (four sacks).

But the offense, oh boy. Mililani’s attack came to life after the break. The way Oregon trailed Michigan State a couple of weeks ago 27-18 and came roaring back, the Trojans did their own version of an offensive tsunami.

Down 28-22, Vavae Malepeai scored to give his Trojans the lead. Then came another backbreaker. After chipping away with quick passes to his wideouts and gives to Malepeai (29 carries, 145 yards, two TDs) — and with key deep threat Kalakaua Timoteo out of the game (shoulder), McKenzie Milton finally found open space.

His keeper to the right, off a fake to Malepeai, completely took the secondary of Campbell off guard. Right up the hash marks 74 yards for a 36-28 lead with 11:33 left in the fourth quarter, and the momentum was all Mililani’s from that point en route to a 57-28 win. It was pivotal, somewhat similar to the play Marcus Mariota made for his Oregon Ducks against Michigan State, except that in that situation, the defense anticipated his run, so he gave the ball up to a teammate who ran for a key TD in the Ducks’ comeback win.

That makes it 10 wins by Mililani in the last 11 meetings, including five in a row.

It’s hard to decipher by looking at Friday’s final score, but Campbell played an outstanding defensive game for most of the night. Mililani finished with only 405 total yards, a very low total for the Trojans, and most teams with that kind of number will score 30 to 35 points. Campbell’s six turnovers gave Mililani the edge in field position much of the night, not to mention the pick-6 by Mamea.

Milton had been held in check until that big TD run. He looked to scramble sometimes, found little breathing room. In fact, his four runs before the TD: gains of 14, 1, 2 and 11 yards. That’s pretty good for an average QB. But as the state’s top QB yardage producer — 304.8 passing yards and 100.8 rushing yards per game — the Sabers kept him well below his averages.

Milton finished with 151 passing yards (20-for-28, three TDs, one pick) and 102 rushing yards. As York often says, his offense will take what the defense gives. On this night, the Sabers took away Milton, fate left a sling around Timoteo’s right shoulder, and the front seven had to deal with a bone-crunching offensive line and a running back (Malepeai) who got stronger as the game wore on, whether he lined up in a four-wide set as the ace back or in an I-formation.

That’s the beauty of being York, a coach who isn’t married to one system. He’ll smashmouth a defense into fatigue and kill that clock, or he’ll spread everything out and give Milton and Malepeai a lot of space to work with. With a season-low five carries, Milton patiently bided his time, and all the quick passes in the world kept Campbell’s defense honest.

It was just a few minutes before kickoff when Kainoa Wilson gave Timoteo a hug and a quick pump-up chat. Wilson, one of the top WRs in the state, has been sidelined since game one due to a collarbone injury. If Timoteo misses time due to his shoulder injury, which occurred as he caught an 11-yard TD to tie the game at 22-all in the third quarter, it may be more Malepeai left, right and up the gut from this point.

The 6-foot, 200-pound junior had a relatively light load coming into the game. With the offense being so flexible and balanced, he had not run the ball more than 15 times in a game since the opener against Saint Louis (25-112, two TDs). In fact, his 29 rushing attempts were nearly as many as his total from the last three games (37). He now has 91 carries for 558 yards and 11 TDs in six games.

Last year, at the six-game mark, Malepeai had 122 attempts for 789 yards and 13 TDs. (That doesn’t include a sit-out against Waipahu for a rib injury.) His workload in 2013 actually got lighter in the second half of the season, 11 to 17 carries a night with two exceptions: 25 attempts (for 154 yards and two TDs) against Leilehua, and 30 runs (for 141 yards, three TDs) against Farrington.

He finished the ’13 season with 1,375 yards and 20 TDs on 238 attempts. Whatever happens with the offense’s general health, Milton & Co. have shown resilience, endurance and incredible uptempo pace. The Trojans especially like to get a ultra-quick snap going after dipping into the red zone. (Don’t pause the video camera, folks.) But if Wilson and Timoteo are going to be sidelined, expecting 53 points a night might be unrealistic.

Then again, York’s mantra and Milton’s execution could be plenty. Milton took aim at nine different pass catchers on Friday.

>> Isaiah Manding: 2 receptions, 2 yards (three targets)
>> Bronson Ramos: 4-29, TD (six targets)
>> Makana Tauai: 1-3 (two targets)
>> Joshua Butac: 2-4 (three targets)
>> Kalakaua Timoteo: 5-57, TD (seven targets)
>> Luani Matagiese: 1-12 (two targets)
>> Vavae Malepeai: 1-6 (one target)
>> Bryson Ventura: 3-29, TD (three targets)
>> Roman Tovi: 1-9 (one target)

Milton’s updated stats are astronomical.
>> 94-139-3-1,370, 15 TDs
>> Completion rate: 67.6 percent
>> Yards per attempt: 9.9
>> Yards per game: 274
>> QB rating: 181.71
>> Rushing: 505 yards, 35 attempts, 14.4 YPC, 8 TDs, 101 YPG

All in all, this Mililani team is on pace to post some dazzling single-season numbers. But the best numbers so far for the Trojans: 6 wins, no losses.


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