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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveAugust 10, 2019, 1:27am
Fri, Aug 9, 2019 @ Campbell [ 7:30 pm ]
EWA BEACH — It didn't take long for Malosi Sam and Wynden Hoohuli to prove their worth to their new teammates.
The pair of junior transfers were instrumental to No. 3 Mililani's 30-26 rally over No. 2 Campbell Friday night in the season debut for both teams.
Sam, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound running back, rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries and Hoohuli, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker, recorded two of his team's three interceptions as the Trojans (1-0) opened defense of their Oahu Interscholastic Association Open Division crown with a road win over the Sabers (0-1).
Both players transferred in from Saint Louis and are among a number of new faces to the Mililani program this season.
"It feels good. We just came here to ball out," Hoohuli said. "It's different coaches here and we feel like we're gonna do good this season."
Sam scored touchdowns on runs of 14, 2 and 31 yards. He had 18 carries for 112 yards by halftime, but upped his workload in the second half, when he added 145 yards on 24 attempts.
"I feel a little bust up, but hey, we got the W and that's what we wanted," Sam said. "I put everything into this, I would die for this, you know what I mean? They're my brothers."
Mililani ran the ball 55 times for 267 yards. It had 83 plays on offense for 449 yards of total offense and kept the ball away from Campbell, which managed just 38 plays from scrimmage for 310 total yards.
"It only happens up front, right? Our offensive line, we got some great guys up there up front," said Maa Tanuvasa, who served as "substitute" coach Friday due to the absence of Trojans 10th-year coach Rod York.
"They opened up the holes for Malosi and shoot, he seemed to find them and even when it wasn't there he just pushed the pile, he'd just drive his feet and we're so glad to have him," Tanuvasa said.
Campbell's first score was set-up by an interception by Blesyng Alualu-Tuiolemotu that the offense recycled into 21-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Hipa to Titus Atimalala near the end of the first quarter.
After the Trojans punted away on their ensuing possession, the Sabers stretched their lead three plays later when — on a 3rd-and-11 — Atimalala beat one-on-one coverage down the left sideline and hauled in a deep pass before he stiff-armed an oncoming safety then broke free on the 90-yard TD pass.
"We just told everybody inside the huddle that we just (gotta) get back together, go back to our grind that we've been doing and then we just went from there," Hoohuli said. "We just had to trust each other and then do our jobs and we'll be all right."
Mililani got on the board with a 14-yard Sam TD run with 9:19 left in the second quarter that was set-up by Raysen Motoyama's 66-yard kickoff return. Later in the stanza, it capped a 15-play drive with Kaulanaikaleoaukahiokala Navares's 44-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to cut the Sabers' lead to 12-10 at the intermission.
Each team capped its opening drive of the second half with TD runs. Sam punched in a 2-yard run on a direct snap on 3rd-and-goal for the Trojans and three plays later, Jonan "Bubbah" Aina-Chaves went untouched through the right side of the line for a 55-yard TD run. Hipa hit Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala on the two-point conversion that followed to make it a 20-17 Campbell lead with 8:59 left in the third quarter.
Mililani turned it over four plays later after a fumble, but Hoohuli stepped in front of a Hipa pass on the very next play.
"I just saw (Hipa) rolling out, he was looking at my guy, he threw it and I got that pick and then I saw all my guys blocking for me, so it was good thing," Hoohuli said.
The Trojans eventually turned the takeaway into a 30-yard Navares field goal to even the score at 20 apiece with 4:23 remaining in the third.
On the last play of the third quarter, Mokiao-Atimalala intercepted a Brendyn Agbayani pass and maneuvered his way through a wall of blockers en route to a 61-yard pick-6. The Sabers went for the two-point conversion, but failed and held a 26-20 lead to start the fourth.
The Trojans tied the score at 26-all on Sam's 31-yard TD run on a fourth-and-1 with 9:06 left in the game and took the lead for good on Navares' ensuing PAT.
Two plays into Campbell's next drive, it turned it over after Muelu Iosefa forced a recovered a fumble. Mililani's offense then put together a nine-play drive that was capped by a 36-yard Navares field goal to make it a 30-26 lead with 3:34 to play.
"With them (getting) some turnovers we had a boost," Sam said. "Those (turnovers) really helped us because all of us were all hyped, so we had the momentum going."
But the Trojan defense wasn't done yet.
The Sabers got the ball back with 3:27 left in the game, but on 3rd-and-14, Hipa was intercepted by Hoohuli a second time and the Mililani offense was able to run out the clock.
"I knew they were trying to go deep on that route because it was third down and then I just saw the ball coming to me and I just got the pick and won the game for my team, so it feels good to do this," Hoohuli said.
Tanuvasa said it was a matter of settling in for the defense after halftime.
"That second half, the defense really stepped up, settled down," Tanuvasa said. "Coming out there the first half, I think our guys were a little rusty — (Campbell's) guys were on — and shoot, I was just hoping that the second half we would turn it around and our offense would start clicking."
Atimalala, a first team All-Hawaii receiver last year, had five catches for 178 yards by halftime, but went without a touch in the second half.
"Titus was killing us so we had to adjust and hope we could find someway to double him and, you know, hopefully we'll make more plays there and we weren't really getting to the quarterback in the first half. Second half, our guys were flying, they were more comfortable, having a lot more fun. First half, it was like they were real tense and you know, first-game jitters, so hopefully that rust got shaken off today," Tanuvasa said.
Agbayani completed 18 of his 28 pass attempts for 182 yards, but was intercepted twice in his first varsity start. Kanoa Gibson was his favorite target, he posted a game-high 10 receptions for 144 yards.
Mililani had the ball for 32 minutes and 30 seconds to just 15:49 for Campbell.
The Trojans were 5 of 7 on red-zone chances and 9 of 16 on third-down conversions. They were flagged for 12 penalties for 113 yards.
Asher Pilanca also came down with an interception and Sonny Semeatu registered a sack for the Trojans defensively.
"All our defense, we stepped up," Hoohuli said. "We got some picks, we got some turnovers and then we just finished."
Hipa threw for 142 yards on 7-of-19 passing, but was picked off three times.
Kaipo Enos-Ho posted a game-high 9 1/2 tackles with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, Atimalala had eight tackles, Peter Manuma added six stops, including a pair of sacks and Titan Jarra notched six tackles, two for losses, and one sack in the loss.
Tanuvasa was pleased to see the Trojans overcome some adversity early in the season.
"This is one of the first challenges that we've faced all year. You know, we've been written up in all the publications that we've got one of the top teams, but we can't just show up on the field and just not perform," Tanuvasa said. "We can't show up on the field and just think we're gonna win, so that's what these guys gotta understand, we still gotta go out there and work. These (Campbell) guys go out there, practice as hard as they do, they're not gonna give it to us — we gotta earn it — so that's what (our) guys did."
It was the first time Tanuvasa has served in the capacity of head coach during his long tenure with his alma mater. He said the shift in coaching duties amongst the staff Friday caught him by surprise.
"I don't know, I just showed up today for the JV game and I guess it was personal reasons, or something like that, but (York) didn't show up. I just got the text that said, ‘Hey, you're the head coach and Eric (Stephens) is the OC,' " said Tanuvasa, who typically handles the linebackers. "I was always helping out with the defensive part, so I guess, I don't know, maybe because I've been here the longest so he put it on me. I just took it as it goes and I didn't really do much, didn't change anything, let the coaches coach and I just had to call timeouts."
In addition to York's absence, Mililani also played without defensive end Shane Kady, who was out with a back injury. The Oregon State commit recorded nine sacks as a junior last year.
Campbell star wide receiver/defensive back Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa also missed the game due to injury. He was amongst the team captains at midfield for the pre-game coin toss, but was on crutches and not suited up.
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