Saturday, October 22, 2022
By: Wes Nakama
MILILANI — Matching its opponent blow-for-blow and then clamping down when it counted, No. 3-ranked Mililani outlasted visiting No. 4 Campbell, 39-29, Friday night in wild O’ahu Interscholastic Association football playoff action at John Kauinana Stadium.
The Trojans, who rolled up 487 yards of total offense, improved to 7-3 and advanced to next Friday’s championship game against the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between No. 1 Kahuku and No. 6 Kapolei. Mililani also secured a spot in next month’s Open Division state tournament. Campbell fell to 6-3 and will play the loser of the Kahuku-Kapolei game for third place and the last state tournament berth.
“That’s what we fought for, you know, this guarantees us a state tournament (appearance) first of all,” Trojans coach Rod York said. “It gives us an opportunity, and we talk about that all the time. All we can do is get the opportunity, and when you get the opportunity, you gotta cash in.”
It took awhile for Mililani to cash in Friday night, as it was Campbell that went to the bank early and often. The Sabers struck first on the game’s third play from scrimmage, when quarterback Jaron-Keawe Sagapolutele connected with a wide open Tana Togafau-Tavui for a stunning 64-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Cristian Wyckstandt’s extra point made it 7-0, but the Trojans responded with a 16-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped by Kingston Samuelu’s 7-yard run. Makel Paiva’s PAT tied it at 7-7 with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Campbell then answered with a 15-play, 78-yard march ended by Sagapolutele’s seven-yard TD pass to Dallas Fonseca-Juan, followed by Wyckstandt’s point-after to make it 14-7 just 18 seconds into the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, Mililani defensive back Gavin Hunter intercepted a pass at midfield to set up a 39-yard scoring play from Kini McMillan to Raymond Roller. The extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the Sabers ahead, 14-13, with five minutes still left in the first half.
Campbell then took a 21-13 lead after Sagapolutele again found Togafau-Tavui wide open down the right sideline for an 80-yard catch-and-run on the very next play from scrimmage.
That’s how the score stood at halftime.
“Especially after the first time we played them (a 35-34 Trojans victory), we knew it was going to be a shootout,” said Hunter, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior. “Both of those (long Campbell) touchdowns were actually on me, they were my fault. I got caught playing aggressive, and they beat me on the top. I’m gonna make sure and correct that, and be better next time around.”
The Trojans closed it to 21-19 less than two minutes into the third quarter, covering 74 yards in just five plays, capped by McMillan’s 31-yard pass to Jensyn McGee in the back of the end zone. The two-point conversion run fell short, but Mililani later grabbed the lead for good on McMillan’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Hunter, who joined the offensive unit for that play as a wide receiver.
“I went in and Coach (York) looked at the 1-on-1 (coverage), so we took it,” Hunter said. “They were playing man (coverage), like zero (safeties) basically, blitzing everybody and manning across the board, so I knew the middle was wide open. The corner was (showing) outside shade, so I took the inside release. Kini gave a beautiful ball, (the) O-line gave beautiful protection and it made my job easy.”
Paiva’s extra point put the Trojans ahead, 26-19, and Mililani stretched it to 32-21 on McMillan’s 11-yard scoring toss to Onosai Salanoa with 42 seconds left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion pass failed.
That touchdown was set up by sophomore defensive back Kayden Anzaldo’s fumble recovery at the 4-yard line and 55-yard return. The Sabers had advanced to the 14-yard line, and Sagapolutele threw a pass over the middle to Togafau-Tavui, who lost the ball — either before securing it, or after. Either way, the whistle never blew, so Anzaldo scooped up the ball and took off down the right sideline.
“I didn’t think (Togafau-Tavui) caught the ball,” Campbell coach Darren Johnson said. “Tana was like, juggling it. I thought it was incomplete. That was big. But a lot of things were big tonight and we just gotta go back and regroup. We still have a lot of football left to play.”
The Sabers did close it to 32-29 one minute into the fourth quarter after Sagapolutele’s 11-yard TD pass to Togafau-Tavui, followed by Sagapolutele’s two-point conversion toss to Rusten Abang, who held onto the ball despite being sandwich-slammed by two defenders.
But Mililani extended the lead to 39-29 on McMillan’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Derek Tsuchiyama, and Paiva added the extra point with 6:41 remaining.
That proved more than enough, as the Trojans forced a three-and-out on the ensuing series and then proceeded to run out the clock.
McMillan, a sophomore, completed 30 of 47 passes for 416 yards and five TDs, with one interception. Sagapolutele, also a sophomore, finished 34 of 51 for 457 yards and 4 touchdowns, with one pick. York said a visitor representing the University of Arizona football program was in attendance, apparently to observe the two sophomore QB’s, among others.
Roller, a speedy and shifty 5-foot-6, 160-pound slotback, caught 10 passes for 181 yards and the one TD. Rowen Bucao led Campbell with 10 grabs for 108 yards, Togafau-Tavui added nine catches for 153 yards and Mua’au added eight catches for 150 yards.
Photos by: Jarin Kobashigawa
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