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Wednesday, December 17, 2014         

WARRIOR FOOTBALL


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With a bowl invite in hand, Warriors target WAC title

By Stephen Tsai

POSTED:



The University of Hawaii football team has a rule that apparently is written in smoke.

Everybody must take a furlough from football the day after a home victory.

But on Halloween, as is their usual practice, the Warriors coaches were dressed as workaholics.

The coordinators worked deep into the night preparing the game plan for Saturday's showdown against unbeaten Boise State. The assistant coaches stopped in the office to have their laptop computers loaded with video cut-ups of this past Saturday's 45-10 rout of Idaho. At their homes, they will work on the presentations they will deliver during position meetings this morning and late afternoon.

While the Warriors met the top item on their to-do list — earn a berth in a postseason bowl — they now are focusing on winning the Western Athletic Conference title.

Unbeaten in five WAC games, the Warriors are atop the standings, a position that has astonished everyone but themselves.

"We started to turn it around against Charleston Southern," safety Mana Silva said of the first victory in a streak that has reached six games. "But, really, it began in the summer. This was our best summer."

There was 100 percent participation in the offseason conditioning program, with newcomers and mainland residents spending at least six weeks training in Manoa.

"As bad as some of us wanted to go home," said Silva, who was raised on the Big Island, "it was better to stay here and train together as a team."

The Warriors drew inspiration from several sources, most notably the loss to Wisconsin in the 2009 regular-season finale. That ensured the Warriors a losing record, at 6-7, and kept them from being considered for the Hawaii Bowl.

Defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga said copies of what was perceived to be a critical article from a newspaper columnist were taped on the walls of the weight room.

Meatoga said the Warriors were intent on restoring pride to a program whose Q-ratings were earning C's.

"We play for the people of Hawaii," Meatoga said.

The flag bearer of that sentiment is quarterback Bryant Moniz, who carries the Hawaiian flag when the Warriors run onto the field before games.

"I take a lot of pride being from the islands, being Hawaiian," Moniz said. "One day, I had the idea I would run out with the Hawaiian flag. Ever since then, it's making a tradition."

Moniz said it was conditioning coach Tommy Heffernan's idea to plant the flag on a stand at midfield.

Moniz said he borrowed the flag from his neighbor in Wahiawa.

"He used it on his truck cruises," Moniz said. "I asked him if I could use it for one weekend. It had such a good review, I haven't given it back."

It might stay in the Warriors family for a while.

"After I graduate," said Moniz, a junior, "we'll have the passing of the flag. We'll give it to some other guy."






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