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Thursday, September 18, 2014         

FURTHER REVIEW


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Football trips to neighbor islands ensure healthy statewide fan base

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:



KEAAU, Hawaii » Since everything's about budgets and expenses these days, let's get right to the first question Tommy Taxpayer will have about the University of Hawaii football team's day trip to the Big Island yesterday.

How much?

The answer is zero. Well, nearly zero. Zero more than if the Warriors had remained on Oahu and scrimmaged at their Halawa home field instead.

UH did have to pay for ground transportation. A couple of buses, a couple of hundred dollars. Or, as athletic director Jim Donovan said, "What it would have cost us to go to Aloha Stadium."

Everything else was donated: The venue (Kamehameha-Hawaii). Airfare for an entire football team (Hawaiian Air). A postgame meal (Jack In The Box). Liquid refreshments (Pepsi). A funny guy roaming the field with a microphone (Chris Hart).

We say it every year, but it's worth repeating: These neighbor island goodwill trips are terrific, and UH is fortunate the state's airline is willing to comp the state's football team.

This time it gave five Big Island boys the chance to suit up and pop pads in front of their families and friends. More than that, though, it helps the Warriors recruit — players and fans.

The next Billy Stephens (remember him? Dick Tomey does, he recruited him from Kona) may have been in the crowd, coming all the way across the island with his folks. Or maybe the next Kaulana Noa, who went from Honokaa to Manoa to the NFL Draft. The current Kaulana Noa was on hand yesterday, reuniting with former teammates Brian Smith and Tony Tuioti, who are now UH assistant coaches.

Stan Atkins, the PA man at Kamehameha, has been involved in Big Island football since arriving from Oahu 29 years ago. He's seen it progress immensely. He's seen coaching and facilities improve, a rivalry develop between Kamehameha and Hawaii Prep. "It's like Kamehameha on Oahu against Punahou," said Atkins, a Saint Louis graduate.

Running back Hogan Rosehill and slot Kana Silva returned to the field of their high school exploits, and laughed about how the cloudy skies and sleepy neighborhood hadn't changed. But they know their history, and they know football has changed on the island of Hawaii.

"The Big Island is definitely getting a lot stronger," Rosehill said. "Now you don't have to just dream about making it to a Division I school, you can actually do it."

Silva has the footsteps of his brother, Mana, to follow at UH, as he did at Kamehameha.

"He worked very hard for his success, so he's a good example," Kana said.

THE SCRIMMAGE ITSELF: Coach Greg McMackin says, "We've got to look at the tape. We've got a lot of good players." Sorry, Coach, but the secret's out. Anyone who saw it knows Darryl McBride's a force to be reckoned with after he spent yesterday wreckin' the Warriors offense with three sacks (one-hand-touch sacks, but sacks nonetheless). Elephant, rhino, tyrannosaurus ... call the position whatever you want, get him in the game.

We knew Allen Sampson was fast. But that fast? Fifty-five-yards-on-a-short-pass-against-the-first-team-defense fast? Maybe it was the electric green cleats, like the shoes the basketball team wore.

And, yes, speaking of hoops, UH's most famous two-sport athlete since June Jones has made a smooth transition back from the hardwood. Miah Ostrowski scored the only touchdown of the scrimmage on a 44-yard catch-and-run from David Graves.

ATKINS TELLS me about a local kid, Reyn Clarke, a great slotback poised for a big year at Kamehameha. Might Clarke end up at UH? The chances are better after yesterday's visit than before.

Dominic Pacheco, who was a star athlete at Radford and coaches basketball at Kamehameha-Hawaii, tells me don't count out Kana Silva. "He's like Mana, just a little smaller. Athletic, quick, hard worker."

The rotation is complete. Maui, Kauai and now the Big Island. Donovan said the plan is to start it again next spring, at War Memorial on the Valley Isle.

"The question is if we'll go to Kona or Hilo next time (in 2014)," the AD said. "But we won't be doing it without Hawaiian Air's help."

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.






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