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Prep Football Preview Special
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveSeptember 16, 2023, 12:46am
Fri, Sep 15, 2023 @ Mililani [ 7:30 pm ]
MILILANI — Kini McMillan passed for 288 yards and five touchdowns and No. 3 Mililani rolled to a 41-3 win over No. 5 Saint Louis in a non-league game Friday night.
A crowd of about 1,000 fans at John Kauinana Stadium saw the Trojans (4-1) separate early from the Crusaders (2-3) with a 21-point first quarter en route to their fourth consecutive victory.
McMillan, a junior quarterback, completed 23 of his 31 pass attempts without an interception. His very first pass of the night — a short hitch to Davyn Joseph, who turned it into a 68-yard touchdown play — got Mililani going.
After he hauled in the short pass from McMillan, Joseph left his defender in his tracks with an outside turn toward his own sideline, before he outraced the rest of the secondary on his way to the end zone.
"That was big for us because we threw a hitch and (Joseph) takes it to the house, so it set the tone definitely for our team and we just fed off of our energy," Mililani coach Rod York said.
The Trojans got on the board just 19 seconds into the contest. The Crusaders answered with a 10-play, 59-yard drive that was capped by a 38-yard field goal by Makani Markle-Kane, but it would prove to be their only points of the night.
Saint Louis suffered its worst offensive output of the year. It entered the game averaging 31 points and 378 yards per game, but was limited to 225 total yards by the Trojans.
The Crusaders were held to minus-two rushing yards on 20 carries. They allowed six sacks and were just 5 of 15 on third downs.
"Tremendous job by our defensive staff and the kids, but the thing is we're playing together. We're running the same schemes, but we're executing a whole lot better and definitely on defense," York said.
Elijah Nua and Timothy Wallace each recorded an interception and Ethan Biondine a couple of sacks in the win. Among those appreciative of the staunch efforts of his defensive teammates was McMillan, who recycled Nua's pick into an 18-yard TD pass to Lehiwa Kahana-Travis that stretched the Mililani lead to 28-3 midway through the second quarter.
"Defense, to hold them to three points, that's just amazing. It's hard to not let a team score that much points, so they did a great job," said McMillan, who threw three TD passes in the first quarter.
His second and third scoring strikes both came on third downs. On a third-and-16, McMillan stepped up in the pocket, kept his eyes downfield and delivered a strike to Salanoa in-stride along the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown. That score capped a six-play, 70-yard drive and made it a 14-3 Mililani lead with 5:23 left until the second stanza.
"We worked so hard on our chemistry in the offseason," Salanoa said. "Coming from last season our chemistry wasn't the best, but hard work beats talent and I think that's why we showed out today."
McMillan and Joseph hooked up once more late in the first quarter for a 14-yard TD pass. On a third-and-8, McMillan once again climbed the pocket to elude the pass rush, but this time floated a pass over a defender and into the grasp of Joseph, who spun while the ball was in the air, then came down with a stellar one-handed catch in the end zone.
"Third down, it's all or nothing basically, so I'm just trying to do my best to get a first down or a touchdown, but I'm just getting the ball to the playmakers and they're just making plays," McMillan said.
McMillan was 16-of-20 passing for 223 yards and had thrown four TDs by halftime. Despite a few dropped passes, McMillan's accuracy helped the Trojans take advantage of short passes underneath Saint Louis' man-to-man coverage all night long.
"The game plan was we're gonna pass the ball and just pick on their secondary and that's what we did," he said.
York praised the decision-making of his third-year starting quarterback and his ability to extend plays with his feet.
"That's always a good thing to have, but we're still working on getting that ball out because there were a few times that the ball should have came out, but you don't put handcuffs on a playmaker. You let him do his thing, but he understands not to take unnecessary shots and that definitely was a game changer for us," York said.
Salanoa, who previously played for the Saint Louis II team two years ago, finished with nine receptions for 121 yards.
"For me, it was personal just because it was my old school, but it was a great team win for us," Salanoa said.
Saint Louis coach Ron Lee was impressed with what he saw from McMillan and the Trojans.
"In my opinion — I've seen Punahou — (Mililani is) the best team on the island," Lee said. "They've got good receivers, they play good defense, they're well-coached; that's a good football team."
York said that a team trip to Oregon two weeks ago proved to be beneficial toward building cohesion amongst his group.
"I think the big thing for us was we played together today and we're a different team coming back from Oregon; the kids are a lot tighter — it just feels great that they're truly playing for each other — that was the big difference in the execution," York said.
McMillan agreed with his coach's sentiments about the visit to the Pacific Northwest, which included — aside from a 37-3 win over Sheldon, Oregon's state runner-up from its top division a year ago — campus visits to numerous schools, a University of Oregon football game at Autzen Stadium and a stay in college-style dormitories.
"Captains have been stepping up, we've been holding people accountable and I just feel like the chemistry got better ever since that trip," McMillan expressed.
Like the Trojans, the Crusaders also played a game on the continent — two, in fact. They dropped a close 34-30 game to Liberty (Henderson, Nevada), then pulled out a 35-30 win over Desert Pines (Las Vegas).
Lee lamented his team's slow start, but found some positives with its play in the final two quarters.
"I liked the way we played defense in the second half, but we didn't play well in the first half. The way we played defense in the second half is the way we gotta start the game, by playing a lot better," Lee said. "We gotta get back to the drawing board. We didn't play well on offense, we had a bad first half on defense, but I liked how we finished the second half."
Saint Louis will have a bye next week before it opens up Interscholastic League of Honolulu play against defending league champion Punahou at Edward ‘Skippa' Diaz Field on Sept. 30.
Mililani will play on the road at Castle Friday, then at Waianae on Sept. 30.
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