Trojans contain Crusaders in season-opening win


Fri, Aug 5, 2022 @ Mililani [ 7:30 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Saint Louis (2-3-0) 0 7 0 07
Mililani (4-2-0) 7 7 7 728

MILILANI — Rod York's squad got all defensive on the opening night of prep football. 

No. 4 Mililani benefitted from 11 sacks by its defense and quarterback Kini McMillan threw for 308 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-7 win over No. 2 Saint Louis Friday night. 

A crowd of about 3,000 fans on a humid evening at John Kauinana Stadium saw the Trojans (1-0) pick up the 100th career win for York, who is in his 13th season leading the program. With the victory, they also avenged a 27-25 loss to the Crusaders (0-1) in the semifinal round of the Open Division state tournament last December. 

For York, however, there is little stock to put into the season-opening win. 

"For Saint Louis it was preseason. They rotated two quarterbacks, they rotated the offensive line, they rotated their slots and receivers, they played everybody and they understand what it is and we do, too; it's what you do in the postseason," York said. 

"Saint Louis, Kahuku, they're postseason teams and that's the caliber that we try to get to," he added. 

Junior defensive lineman Jabiel Lauvao filled up the stat sheet with a game-high seven tackles, including four sacks and a forced fumble. 

All 11 of Mililani's sacks came in the first half. It finished with 15 total tackles for loss, while Saint Louis was held to only 196 yards of total offense. 

"It was all just about containing because the QB just kept rolling out and we did our job by containing," said the 6-foot-1, 217-pound Lauvao. 

The Crusaders' struggles in pass protection were compounded by a consistenly low shotgun snap from center to quarterbacks Kekahi Graham and Oa Kamakawiwoole, who combined to go 14-for-26 passing for 153 yards without an interception. 

"Well, we gotta get the snap better. Every single snap was on along the ground, so we got work to do, but I like it," Saint Louis coach Ron Lee said. 

Given the fact that his offense does not return a single starter from a season ago, Lee is optimistic about the unit's upside. 

"Kind of where we felt we'd be, you know? We've got a lot of young guys on offense," Lee said. "We had five opportunities (to score), we had three turnovers, you know, mistakes with young guys — quarterbacks right on down the line, we had no returnees on offense — but Mililani's solid. I like the way they played."

The Trojans struck on a couple of big plays with McMillan's 70-yard touchdown pass to Raymond Roller to open the scoring and his 76-yard scoring strike to Davyn Joseph in the third quarter. 

"You know, I felt really confident out there," said McMillan, who completed 15 of his 25 attempts in his return from a left knee injury that ended his freshman season just two games in last year.

McMillan went on, "I wasn't really nervous. I trusted my teammates, my o-line that they were gonna block and most importantly, I trusted myself that I could get the ball out there and I trusted coach York to call the right play."

On the long McMillan-to-Roller TD pass, the latter collected the pass over the middle from the former, then shook loose a few would-be tacklers before he found the end zone at the 8:43 mark of the first quarter. 

One play into the second quarter, McMillan capped a five-play, 51-yard drive with his 21-yard TD toss to Gavin Hunter, who beat one-on-one coverage along the right sideline on the play. Makel Paiva's point after gave his team a 14-0 cushion just 11 seconds into the second stanza. 

Later in the second quarter the Crusaders capitalized on a short field after a Mililani punt of only 28 yards gave them possession at the Trojans' 37-yard line. One play after Kamakawiwoole connected with Titan Lacaden for a 23-yard completion to set-up first-and-goal, the duo hooked up once more, this time for a 3-yard TD pass over the middle. 

Saint Louis cut the Mililani lead to 14-7 following the ensuing extra point by Makena Kauai with 1:26 left in the first half. 

Ana Monteilh got the ball back for the Crusaders with his interception off of McMillan with a mere 30 seconds remaining. However, they were unable to turn it into any points before the intermission. 

The Trojans made it a two-score game following McMillan's long TD pass to Joseph just past the midpoint of the third quarter. On the scoring play, McMillan took a big hit from a Saint Louis defender just as he unleashed the deep pass, which Joseph went up to snag between two Crusaders; He then outran the rest of the defense to the end zone. 

"It was a lock play: man on man," McMillan described of the defensive coverage. "(Joseph) made a nice play; that was a nice grab. To be honest, I really can't feel it (the hit)."

The touchdown was preceeded just two plays prior by a Mililani defensive takeaway after Kamaehu Roman forced a fumble by Saint Louis slotback Yosei Takahashi, which was recovered by linebacker Elijah Nua.

Nua also recovered the fumble caused by Lauvao on the first play of the final quarter — in the end zone for a touchback — and McMillan turned it into an insurance score with his 29-yard TD pass to Andrew Manivong, Jr. seven plays and 80 yards later. 

"I thought they did well," Lee said. "Not just the QB, but overall on offense — good protection, good receivers made some big catches — all of that stuff I thought they really were in midseason form, so yeah it's good for us."

Lee's counterpart was a bit more critical of his sophomore quarterback. 

"He did a good job, but he also made a whole lot of mistakes out there, but we want to clean it up," York said. "It was a good learning experience for him and right off the bat we had three good scrimmages and this game was good, it was real good because he was able to fail in the game and then come back and fight back and be better."

To be sure, McMillan was grateful to be back on the field and healthy once more. 

"It felt like a blessing, you know. I'm a believer in all things happen for a reason and I feel like ever since I got hurt I've been working toward the net season already, so I kind of had a head start, so I just thank God that I'm back out here with my teammates," he said. 

The Trojans were far from efficient on offense, as York is quick to point out. They were 3 of 8 on third downs (0 for 2 on fourth downs) and finished with 351 total yards, including fewer rushing yards (35) than the Crusaders managed (43). 

In almost the same breath that York celebrated his defense's stinginess, he lamented his offense's struggles. 

"That was everything. I mean, 11 sacks and we was only up seven (at halftime), so that tells you about our offense … but it's preseason and Saint Louis rotated guys so we want to beat them in the postseason, not the preseason, but overall I'm happy for our guys," York said. "We got confidence and it was a good win, but we also made a lot of mistakes, but that's why we schedule Saint Louis, because they're gonna bring the best out of you and they're gonna expose you real fast."

Mililani will play another non-league game next week when it hosts Southern California-powerhouse Mission Viejo at Kauinana Stadium Friday night.

Saint Louis will visit No. 8 Kapaa next Saturday. 

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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