Stevenson provides the punch on offense and defense for Mililani


POSTED: Sunday, August 30, 2009

A year ago, defenses found ways to contain Taz.

So far this season, it seems there is no resistance to the blur known as Dalaunte “;Taz”; Stevenson. The senior was a threat from the opening moments in Friday's battle with Punahou.

Mililani's 16-9 win at John Kauinana Stadium reinforced what coach Darnell Arceneaux has known: It was just a matter of time. At 3-0, the fifth-ranked Trojans (tied with Waianae last week) are likely to move up in the Star-Bulletin Top 10.

“;It's a good win against a high-caliber team. Any time you can win against the defending state champs, that's good,”; Arceneaux said. “;But we're not hanging our hats on one win.”;

The Trojans can hang their hats on a sturdy defense that limited Punahou to 46 rushing yards and 11-for-25 passing. Tackle Shaynon Crawford-Lane had two sacks, while Zach Quines and Kawika Barabin also had sacks, including Barabin's safety in the second half.







No. 5 Mililani16
No. 4 Punahou9





Stevenson was the biggest of playmakers in a game otherwise ruled by the defensive units.

Mililani nearly added another touchdown in the final seconds. The Trojans drove to the Punahou 1-yard line, but ran out the clock.

“;That was very classy of Darnell to take a knee,”; Punahou coach Kale Ane said.

An 80-yard touchdown run by Stevenson was called back by penalty—he had raced to another 80-yard score the week before against Leilehua—but he still found ways to make plays.

At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Stevenson finished with 92 rushing yards on 14 carries and caught two passes for 30 yards. He wasn't a target of McKinney's until the final quarter.

One was the go-ahead touchdown on a rollout pass by Trent McKinney on fourth and 5. McKinney lofted his pass high and long enough for only one athlete to touch.

“;I knew if I rolled, the safeties would come down,”; said McKinney, a junior who transferred from Kapolei in the offseason. “;I knew Taz was going to get it.”;

The Trojans led 14-9 with 7:46 remaining, but it might not have happened without a fluke play. Punahou linebacker DeForest Buckner was called for face mask during a second-down sack of McKinney at midfield.

“;I slipped and it made him reach,”; McKinney said.

Without the slip, it's third and 10 at the 49-yard line. With the fluky face mask, the Trojans marched on.

With Stevenson lining up in the backfield, splitting out to wide receiver—he was a determined blocker on the perimeter when teammates like Ethan Cook ran the ball—and fulfilling full-time duty as a safety, Stevenson is an iron man.

The Trojans also have simplicity. Their pistol sets, with an offset I next to McKinney, and shotgun formations offer basic running lanes and angles. The difference is that Stevenson has major acceleration to the edge and pure breakaway speed that normal defensive pursuit angles can't trump.

The 80-yard jaunt that was called back, plus another long run that was ruled out at the 1-yard line with less than a minute left, would've given the senior two more scores.