York: Scoreboard doesn’t define Mililani

Mililani quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw a touchdown pass and rushed for another against Saint Louis. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

It was a not-so-good showing on the scoreboard for coach Rod York‘s Mililani Trojans on Saturday night in the Open Division final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.

But they’ll be able to look back at the 38-17 loss to the top-ranked Saint Louis Crusaders and know they didn’t go down with a whimper. They were in striking distance, 14-3, at halftime.

In the third quarter, things got worse in a hurry as Saint Louis (11-0) went up 31-3 by turning a punt block and an interception into two touchdowns.

But, finding deep resolve, the second-ranked Trojans (10-3) staved off a blowout. They nearly got back into the the thick of it — if not for one play that, in the business, is called a 14-point swing.

“It’s not what we wanted,” said senior running back Kilifi Malepeai, a bull of an athlete. “But we did what we could. I’m proud of every single person on this team, from the players to the coaches to the families. These boys put in the work every day. We tried today, but we came up a little short. (The comeback) was pretty good, but it wasn’t enough. It is what it is. I’m proud of this team for not giving up.”

Malepeai rushed for 80 yards on nine carries against the state’s stoutest defense. His brother, Vavae Malepeai, is carrying the ball for USC.

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel‘s rushing stats tell the story about what kind of game it was. His positive rushing stats were 121 yards, but his negative (nine sacks) was 88. Saint Louis’ front seven got in there often.

“We can’t make mistakes against a team like Saint Louis,” York said afterward. “We needed to come in and match Saint Louis’ intensity and execution. Hat’s off to Saint Louis. They proved why they’re the best. But I’m so proud of our guys and the way they represented themselves and their community and their parents.”

About the comeback that fell well short, York said, “Yeah, our kids fight. Even when we win, the scoreboard doesn’t define who we are. These guys’ attitude and effort is what matters. We care more about how we played, and I’m so proud of them. It was a great run this season.”

The Trojans were OIA Open champions and got to the finale at states. They were going for a second top-tier championship to add to the one from 2014, when McKenzie Milton was the quarterback.

Milton was on the minds of the Mililani ohana. Gaile Nitta, the wife of Trojans athletic director Glenn Nitta, wore No. 10 (Milton’s jersey number) in dark marker on her face.

Milton, the UCF starter, hurt his knee badly Friday in a college win over South Florida and had emergency surgery. Mark Milton, McKenzie’s dad, texted the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Saturday morning with a message to all of Hawaii: “We appreciate the support. The surgery last night appears to have gone pretty well to stabilize the knee.”

Cy Kuboyama-Hayashi, a receiver and a holder on special teams for the Trojans, talked about the loss: “They (the Cruasaders) are a good team, but we could have done more to prepare ourselves. It’s not disappointing. You learn lessons. It’s a team sport. We’re all in it together. I love every single one of my teammates head to toe. We’ve been through a lot together since middle school. Always proud of my boys.”

Kuboyama-Hayashi was Milton’s backup quarterback in 2015 as a freshman. He also backed up Gabriel as a sophomore and junior.

“It was a good experience being a freshman and having to fill such big shoes,” he said.

Shane Kady, a Trojans junior defensive lineman, also spoke about getting this far and not coming out on top: “We definitely worked hard and gave it our all. I just think we didn’t come out that strong today. We played with heart and it didn’t come out in our favor at the end.”

Now, back to that 14-point swing. Mililani had just scored on an impressive eight-play, 84-yard, late third-quarter drive capped by Gabriel’s naked bootleg 1-yard TD run to make it 31-10.

But, after an acrobatic interception by Fatu Iosefa, the Trojans drove as far as the Saint Louis 15, but Crusaders linebacker Jordan Botelho ruined Mililani’s day. He took the ball that fell out of Gabriel’s hands and ran 74 yards the other way for a touchdown. Instead of making it 31-17, the Trojans went behind 38-10 — a killer.

“We’ll reflect on the season and improve what we do,” York said. “Gotta go to work. I’m so happy for our guys. It was a great run this season.”

York had some thoughts about just how good the Crusaders were this season.

“Straight up, they’re the best team we’ve played,” he said. “Saint Louis at this time of the year, they could beat (California teams) Mater Dei or St. John Bosco. They’ve got great athletes, no doubt, great coaching, no doubt, but it’s the mind-set of the kids that is what separates them. And they play. No, their mind-set is not better than ours. But they’ve got athletes. They’ve got dudes.”

York stopped short of saying this is the best Crusaders team.

“This team is not up there,” he said. “Last year’s team was better. Their defense is young and they’ve got a bunch of juniors. That’s scary, and they’ve got more guys coming in.”

But York brought it back home to the Mililani ohana: “It was a helluva run. A great run.”

On Facebook, one hour after the game ended, York posted: “Thank you to my Trojan Team. I had a first class seat and enjoyed one hell of a ride.”

Mililani slotback Jansen York was brought down by Saint Louis linebacker Mason Tufaga during the first half. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.


  1. ILH November 25, 2018 3:50 am


  2. Blah November 25, 2018 7:12 am

    Blah blah

  3. Mililani hammer November 25, 2018 7:52 am

    Congratulations to St. Louis crusaders! They were just on another level! No excuses. Congrats to our Mililani popwarner/crusaders Makoa,Malosi,Hunter also to nephew Aeryk.Trojans keep your head up! Back to da grind! You had an awesome year.

  4. notes November 25, 2018 9:11 am

    if the ILH wants to create super star teams with scholarships and recruiting then maybe OIA should do the same too. get rid of districts and allow the best players to play for kahuku, mililani or whoever so we get chance against this corrupt St Louis machine. ILH is always gonna be dirty so maybe we should be dirty too

  5. notes November 25, 2018 9:27 am

    no coach york. the scoreboard doesn’t define you or your program. your lack of recruiting and your desire to do everything the right way is what defines you. to me, you guys are the real state champs brother

  6. jusamom November 25, 2018 9:40 am

    Wow…such anger and jealousy from some….Why can’t you just relish that St. Louis are the 3 PEAT CHAMPIONS!!!! Awesome game boys..played tough and kept going….brought that Koa Trophy back to Kalaepohaku….Taking nothing away from Mililani as they kept St. Louis within striking distance….Is it so hard for people to just be happy with who won? Oh well, as Tay Tay would say…”Hater’s gonna hate hate hate hate hate….Player’s gonna play play play….3 time State Champions, I say St. Louis deserves to pump their chest on this one and walk a little prouder….” WTG to all of the boys that played last night

  7. Brah November 25, 2018 11:46 am

    To you folks saying public schools don’t recruit, three of this year’s Mililani starters used to start for St Louis in their intermediate/JV years. Not trying to bring down these two people’s names, but the USC running back from Miliani used to play for St Louis but was from Aiea and that qb at UCF was from Kapolei…. let the kids play where they want to and with who they want to play with!!

  8. HiLifer November 25, 2018 12:48 pm

    notes whining again….LOL!! your inferiority complex is showing, ma’am

  9. Congratulations to the state champions November 25, 2018 4:50 pm

    Once again congratulations to the Crusaders.
    What did Mililani expect?
    Crusaders are #1 in the state for a reason and Mililani is #3.
    The hurricane saved Mililani’s record from having one less in the “L” column.

  10. Crusader Alum November 25, 2018 5:57 pm

    How has York done things the right way? Mililani has the most GE exemptions playing football than any other OIA program Campbell is 2nd. 3 years ago, York and his coaches wore T Shirts that featured a 9mm glock. York poaches players from Farrington and the Razorback JPS program routinely. Next year, he’ll bring Muasau’s younger brother from Punahou despite the fact that Mililani cannot offer this kid the same level of education that Punahou offers. Its sad bc York offers the 2nd tier ILH players a chance to play football which is a compelling proposition at the expense of their quality education.

  11. Farney November 25, 2018 7:06 pm

    Who will York recruit for QB next year? Notes, York does recruit. After StL.run the table again, OIA needs to go back to old format. No ILH cross play till State finals. Let Pun, Kam and Stl.Play each other 3 times a season. StL. needs to go to Calif and play twice a year.

  12. ILH November 25, 2018 7:33 pm

    Blow out, was 31-3 at one point, final 38-17, not even close, i don’t know what York is trying to say.

  13. To da hale November 25, 2018 8:17 pm

    Why all the whining about going back to the old format (oia vs oia season and ilh vs ilh season)?
    I thought it was an interesting season for the teams in the open division. What’s the difference? Kahuku and mililani would still pound weaker teams in the oia division. Unless it makes you feel better if an “oia” school smokes another oia school (and as long as its its NOT an ilh school doing the pounding).
    As a fan of hs football, it was good to see kamehameha, stL, punahou, kahuku, and mililani battle each other in reg season play.
    My hope is that they make all games count in the open division and put the top 4 teams with the best record in the state championship playoff.

  14. notes November 25, 2018 9:38 pm

    post #5 #13 is education first aka mr punahou aka fake “notes”. he’s not a proud RRFL. he doesn’t even know anything about kahuku except for maybe the shrimp truck LOL

  15. notes November 25, 2018 10:23 pm

    post #14, fake notes aka mr punahou, u alright or what? ur bipolar is starting to worry me because its shaming the punahou program and my nephews are playing for punahou. sad to have a bipolar pun fan representing that school. u are posting on here as ur original name education first, why so scared to post with that name?

    Mills and coach York, great run, back at it again next year and looking forward to kahuku vs mills rematch.

  16. NotaFan November 25, 2018 10:41 pm

    Talking about recruiting? Mililani already does that…it’s called a District Exception. Athletes get a pool of them just like parent-teachers whom request their children to attend their place of employment. The State should do an audit to see what’s the actual percentage of student athletes in public schools attending schools outside of their home school. Pretty sure those numbers would be high in many of the public high schools. Anyways, that to me is a form of cheating in a public school setting…cheaters never win. Next time send your kids to private school where it’s legal! Lol!

  17. Simple Simon November 25, 2018 11:04 pm

    Mater Dei or St John’s Bosco? Please don’t lol

  18. To da hale November 26, 2018 12:01 am

    As I mentioned on the other thread, To da hale is just To da hale.

  19. notes November 26, 2018 12:06 am

    kids cant commute to kahuku from town its too far so we usually have kids that are family move in with relatives, AND just a few 1-3 every year, this year kahuku had zero out of district transfers.

    Mills is close enough for district exempt to attract all of central oahu so atleast 5 kids every year commute to mills. My neighbors, a junior boy and junior girl in wahiawa both applied for district exempt to mills lastyear, the girl got rejected and the boy started on defense this year. go figure!

    ILH, well they have no district boundaries so all 22 starters are technically fair game, aka recruit material. so ILH has way more advantages then OIA.

  20. Coach Potato November 26, 2018 7:27 am

    Notes aka. ??? you’re contradicting your own arguments. What about the kids who live in Waialua, Laie, Waiahole, Kahaluu, Makaha, Maile, Nanakuli who commute 2-3 hours through traffic to and from Honolulu each day in order to attend an ILH school. Wouldn’t it be easier for these kids to stay in their own communities? Their parents choose to pay for private school for a chance at a better education and to have their kids compete at the highest level. Nothing sinister about it. The ILH makes the OIA better. 20 years ago, the OIA had zero chance of winning, now they’re doing considerably better. The inter-league games will make it closer in time. Look at Waipahu, got smacked by Iolani, but in less than 2 months, they came back and won the whole enchilada.

  21. phILHarmonic November 26, 2018 8:37 am

    Muasau is leaving to Millilani?? Do tell.

  22. Crusaderfan November 26, 2018 12:44 pm

    Saint Louis should schedule teams like St. John Bosco and IMG and Mater Dei to showcase their superior talent , I think easily beat those team, just saying we’re that good.

  23. watcher November 26, 2018 1:37 pm

    no problem with private schools recruiting the cream of the crop, public schools on other hand, shouldn’t be doing so. too many of them do. Playing in the present format with combined private/public schools, there is even greater pressure to recruit to win as they are going head to head in regular season. it becomes an uneven playing field. Leagues should be kept separate and meet up in the state tournament or the public schools hold their own state tournament. Unfortunately, the OIA public schools decision makers, get swayed by the $$$$$$ sign possibility. HS sports should not be about making $$$ but providing an opportunity/platform for competition to foster educational values. It’s not the high school goal of providing scholarships to college, that is a byproduct of athletes in their team play. It’s also not the responsibility of the public schools to keep the private schools afloat. But public schools, no put your foot in your mouth and claim “Foul” when a kid goes private as you OIA do the same. And furthermore, if a kids gets a financial aid to attend a private school, great!

  24. Farney November 26, 2018 3:31 pm

    After 20 years, my brother from Cali,and I was watching the Mil vs.StL game. ” he was drowning by halftime then asked “Did they open a public housing in Mililani”? I laughed, No bobby, it’s called DE. Lol.

  25. Open yo makas! November 26, 2018 10:33 pm

    There are a lot of Polys that live in the Mililani district, drive around Kipapa and Waikalani. But to spit out facts about Mililani, This is Yorks MO… he gets parents to give in to his come play for Mililani your kid is going to start mentality. Brings in tons of kids all in the same position so you have 6 boys all vying for the same job that York promises each of them, all the while he overlooks the kids that do love in Mililani. By then the season starts, too late for the kids to transfer out, then he promises them the same things next season but brings in a few more players. His promises are for recruiting everyone that could be a danger on the opposing team. Bring in 6 at the same position, really only wants to use 3 but the other 3 is there so they don’t play for the other team. Why do you think he does this free clinic, he’s recruiting your kids, brainwashing all you parents making you think he has the best interest of the players when its all just a pissing contest. His team is #2 in the state, how many kids get scholarships? Dylan and who? #2 in the state and only get 1 player with a offer? Open you eyes Mililani parents.

  26. watcher November 27, 2018 8:39 am

    kind of like Kaiser when Miano was there, recruit all from out of district resulting in the homegrown Hawaii Kai boys sitting on the bench while the recruits got PT. Now Campbell w/DJ is doing the same and always has. more power to them if OIA allows them to do so. all the schools should recruit then if no enforcement of the rules. use bogus address, hehe

  27. watcher November 27, 2018 8:56 am

    BTW, Go Trojans! Good job this season! you gave St. Louis a good fight!

  28. Open yo makas November 27, 2018 9:51 am

    Is there any other high school head coach running a youth community team? I don’t see hernandez, or dj or carvalho or kurietsu running a pop warner or jps squad. York starts the recruiting process from flag 6 years old. The promises start there and by then parents and kids already bought into the “program” then jv comes along and he brings in kids from other districts and forgets all about who you are. Aint it a conflict that York is running millvill youth

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