I am here to tell you that McKenzie Milton is something special.
Sure, sure, the person who is saying that (me) also thought Jarin Morikawa was something special. And he was, but Milton, who took over the Mililani quarterback job three years ago after Morikawa graduated, is on a whole ‘nother level.
Morikawa was a great quarterback. Milton is more accurate, has more zip on the ball and his mobility allows him to gain valauble seconds in which he can create masterfully.
And then there’s his agility mixed with speed. Milton calls it game speed, which is true, but it’s also lethal speed in its own right.
Milton had a good laugh after the Trojans’ 67-21 win over Kapolei, when he was told he could be matched against world-class sprinter Usain Bolt.
When Billy Hull, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Prep World reporter covering Saint Louis’ win over Liberty, Nev., at Aloha Stadium, called after the game to get a quick report on Milton, he was told everything he needed to know in two words: “515 yards.”
But everyone else needs to know a lot more about Milton. He did it against Kapolei and the Hurricanes are not a pushover. Milton also scrambled for 60 rushing yards and one of his highlights was a play that a penalty nullified in which he darted and accelerated and twisted and turned and found an inch near the sideline that opened up a diagonal path the last four yards into the end zone.
Talent and smarts. He passed the ball 45 times with 33 completions, no interceptions and six touchdowns. Yes, some of it has to do with Mililani’s system, but system doesn’t tell the whole story.
“He is the best quarterback I’ve ever seen,” Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said after the game. “I can’t think of anyone better, can you?”
Hernandez’s demeanor was that he wasn’t kidding.
“What about Joe Montana?” came the reply, to which Hernandez responded while walking away and being approached by three or four people to take his full attention away, “Well, maybe Joe Montana.”
But seriously, try standing on the sideline and watch Milton go to work. His quick release and bee-line, zippity midrange passes are something to see.
Truth be told, whether Milton is the best Hawaii high school quarterback of all-time or not, his overall package is something Hawaii hasn’t seen. He has one state championship under his belt and he came close to leading the Trojans to another one when he was a sophomore, but a comeback against Punahou fell short.
So, why is it that only the University of Hawaii and the three service academies — Army, Navy, Air Force — have recruited him? Sure, size is something. He’s 6 feet, 180 pounds, not your standard Division I college football or pro quarterback.
One thing Milton has going for him is his easy-going demeanor. He is just one of the boys among the Trojans. It’s not like there is this huge aura around him wherever he goes. He’s usually right in the middle of a bunch of teammates, where it’s kind of hard to pick him out. He’s just a blond, smiling kid.
But you would think by now that there would be other colleges in the mix for his services. Heard a rumor a few weeks ago that he’s going to be UH’s quarterback when June Jones comes back as coach … ahem, cough, cough … if June Jones comes back. That’s what the rumor mill says, even though Norm Chow is still the man in charge and there is lots of optimism about the upcoming season.
“For the most part, I don’t want to run or scramble,” Milton said after the win over Kapolei. “I am a quarterback, a passer first. I would rather hand the ball off to Vavae (Malepeai) than run myself. I’d rather throw than run. I only try to make plays with my feet when I have to.”
The kid is special and he can play, and the more he progresses into his “profession” as a quarterback, the more people might start agreeing with Hernandez, who quite possibly could start qualifying his remark in the near future.
Maybe it will change to “best high school quarterback, or best Hawaii high school quarterback,” or “best OIA quarterback ever.” And maybe Hernandez won’t qualify it. Maybe he sees something that others don’t.
No matter what Hernandez really meant, you get the idea.
McKenzie Milton is a special quarterback.