While Mililani came armed with an arsenal of offensive weapons, it was the defense that stole the show.
The Trojans limited host Moanalua to 95 yards of offense en route to a 16-3 victory over Na Menehune in a nonleague meeting of Oahu Interscholastic Association teams last night. Mililani, ranked No. 8 in the Star-Bulletin Preseason Football Top 10, saw its all-around star Taz Stevenson post a touchdown on four rushes that spanned 39 yards, catch a 66-yard pass, and return a kickoff for 31 yards to spark the offensive attack — all while contributing as a defensive back.
“Our defense did a great job at game time against Moanalua. They’re a tricky team that can run a lot of option, and all week long we just tried to duplicate their speed,” said Mililani head coach Darnell Arceneaux. “Our defense did a great job of wrapping up and tackling, and our defensive ends did a good job of containing.”
Mililani jumped out to a 6-0 lead 4 minutes into the game, as quarterback Trent McKinney found Seth Iereneo-Baring on a 12-yard strike to the middle of the end zone. The score capped a brisk four-play drive highlighted by McKinney’s 66-yard pass to Stevenson that put the Trojans in the red zone.
“He’s like a bullet fired out of an Uzi, he keeps firing and firing,” said Arceneaux of Stevenson’s cartoon-like abilities. “He got us going. We’ve been using him more on the defense, and he’s a guy who demands respect. He’s got game-breaking abilities. When he gets going, he’s one of those players that don’t come around very often.”
After Mililani failed to convert the extra point, Moanalua answered with a 22-yard field goal from Matt Blakeley with 5:30 to go in the opening period. The chip shot was set up by Na Menehune starting quarterback Adam Francisco, as the burly gunslinger rumbled for a 62-yard gain on the seven-play drive’s third opportunity from scrimmage.
The Trojans pushed the lead back to six points after the defense forced a Francisco fumble on a quarterback keeper, and the vicious hit gave Mililani the ball in prime real estate on the Moanalua 7-yard line. The hit removed Francisco from the game for all but a handful of plays, and the Trojans took advantage of the excellent field position and managed a 9-3 advantage on Reid Watanabe’s 32-yard field goal just before halftime.
Mililani established some breathing room late in the third quarter, as with 3:15 to play in the period, Stevenson scored on a 2-yard touchdown burst to cap a successful 52-yard, seven-play drive. With the 16-3 lead, the Trojans’ defense continued to clamp down, and pressured Moanalua backup quarterback Keven Amaral throughout the remainder of the contest.
McKinney finished an efficient 12-for-19 passing for 173 yards through the air, and more importantly, played mistake-free football. Iereneo-Baring led Mililani with five receptions for 51 yards, and Ethan Cook carried the load on the ground with 14 carries for 51 yards.
“Both my QBs played superb; I’m very happy,” said Arceneaux of McKinney and backup Nainoa Pihana. “When you have two quarterbacks you can trust, both can run the option and I can put them at receiver if I need to. We’ve been working very hard in the offseason. Going into next week I couldn’t be more happy with the quarterback play.”
The Trojans host rival Leilehua next Saturday, while Moanalua hosts Kalaheo on Friday.
Na Menehune’s tandem of Francisco and Amaral combined to complete four of 17 passes for a mere 47 yards — 20 of which came on a late-game catch by Emilio Menzoda. Francisco led Moanalua’s rushing attack with 65 yards on five carries. Running back Tahje Canyon added 18 yards on 11 carries.
–Kyle Galdeira, special to the Star-Bulletin
Mililani (1-0) 6 3 7 0 — 16
Moanalua (0-1) 3 0 0 0 — 3
Mil- Seth Iereneo-Baring 12 pass from Trent McKinney (kick failed)
Moan- Matt Blakeley 22-yard field goal
Mil- Reid Watanabe 32-yard field goal
Mil- Taz Stevenson 2 run (Watanabe kick)
RUSHING-Mililani: Ethan Cook 14-51, Watanabe 1-(-1), McKinney 7-21, Stevenson 4-39, Nainoa Pihana 2-(-4), Spencer Sword 2-4. Moanalua: Tahje Canyon 11-18, Adam Francisco 5-65, Keven Amaral 9-18, Tayler Tanaka 1-8, Michael Egami 3-4.
PASSING-Mililani: McKinney 12-19-0-173, Pihana 2-3-0-7. Moanalua: Francisco 0-3-1-0, Amaral 4-14-0-47.
RECEIVING-Mililani: Stevenson 1-66, Iereneo-Baring 5-51, Taylor Searle 2-14, Hassan Richardson 2-14, Watanabe 1-30, Kama Paulo 1-3, Kevin Fuentes 1-0, Sword 1-2. Moanalua: Keenan Ragragola 1-13, Tanaka 2-14, Emilio Menzoza 1-20.
JV Score: Mililani 21, Moanalua 6