Defense carries Trojans to Open title game


Fri, Nov 16, 2018 @ Aloha Stadium [ 4:30 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
CAMP (8-5-0) 2 0 0 02
MIL (10-3-0) 7 0 3 1424

HALAWA — Defense had a hand in three scores, a rookie made two big interceptions and No. 3 Mililani held off No. 5 Campbell, 24-2, in Friday's semifinal of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Open Division state tournament at Hawaiian Financial FCU Field at Aloha Stadium.

The Trojans (10-2) advance to their first Open title game against Saint Louis 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Aloha Stadium. Mililani is seeking its first state title since 2016, when it beat Iolani for the Division I crown.

The Sabers (8-5) are done for the season.

"The defense is the strength of our team," said Trojans quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who was held to a season-low 119 passing yards on 11-of-28 passing with two interceptions and a season-first no TD passes. "Our offense hasn't been keeping us, so we have to play better as a whole unit."

The Trojans defense came up with five interceptions — three by sophomore Vaisen Viloria, who made his varsity debut after playing on the JV. Three of the interceptions, two by Viloria, led to Trojan TDs. He returned his third pick 7 yards for a TD. Darius Muasau's first-period interception that was returned 24 yards to the Sabers 8, led to the other TD. Asher Pilanca had the other pick for Mililani.

"We pulled him up from the JV," Trojans coach Rod York said of Viloria. "That kid's athletic. What he did today, he's been doing it in every league that he's played. He's done it in the Big Boys League and he's done it on the JV. That's why I didn't hesitate to start him."

Viloria, who is 5 feet, 9 inches and 150 pounds, did not play tentative.

"It was pretty amazing, coming up from JV to vars," Viloria said. "It's a different level. Everything's faster. I had to step up. It's basically the same game."

Because of two of the interceptions, both scoring drives were started inside Campbell territory. Even a 39-yard field goal by Liam McGehee in the third quarter started with a drive from the Sabers 46.

The Sabers managed just 163 yards of offense. They could never get their passing game going as starter Krenston Kaipo and Blaine Hipa combined for 9-of-41 passing. Passes sailed over receivers frequently. Campbell coach Darren Johnson said it was the football.

"I'll be real honest," Johnson said. "It's the new footballs. We play with our type of footballs all year and we have brand new ones stuck to us in the game. It's a different football. It's not something we practiced with, but our quarterbacks had a hard time controlling the football. We like the older-type football."

The Sabers were torched for 491 yards on defense in a 52-14 loss to the Trojans two months ago. Campbell came out with a three-man front, dropping eight into coverage.

"We're never going to stop Dillon so we tried to take away the pass with one more DB and we took out one lineman because it's just hard to get to him," Johnson said.

The Sabers defense held the Trojans to a pedestrian 204 yards of offense, so Gabriel let his legs and savvy do the work. He scored on a 3-yard run on an option keeper after a fake to Kilifi Malepeai and did it again on a 2-yard naked bootleg off the left end.

Down 10-2 late in the third period, Viloria's second interception gave Mililani the ball at Campbell's 47. The Trojans drove to the Sabers 2, when Johnson called timeout to dispute a non-call.

"I'll tell you what was really big was that goal-line call," Johnson said. "They had 12 guys come out of the huddle and wouldn't give us the call. That means you back up another 10 (yards). They broke the huddle with 12; the whole state saw it. Spectrum saw it. They had 12 guys on the field and they wouldn't give us the call."

Gabriel would eventually score on his bootleg.

The Sabers did run effectively with running back Sky Lactaoen's 107 rushing yards on 23 carries. His 24-yard run was the longest play from scrimmage for the Sabers.

Campbell's only score came in the first period with Mililani punting from its 2. A fair-catch interference penalty on Mililani was declined but a holding penalty in the end zone was enforced and resulted in a safety. The Sabers could have taken the interference instead and take over inside the Trojans 20 for a chance to get a TD or field goal.

"We always want points, but we thought we could move on offense (later in the game) and get it in so it's all right," Johnson said

This is Campbell's highest finish since 2004, when it won the Division II state title.

"For the most part, we were OK," Johnson said. "They made some plays. We had some turnovers that were costly on our side. Our youth showed up tonight and it showed in some areas of the game. We're excited about what's going to happen to us in the future."

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected].




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