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Lefiti takes reps at guard

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While still competing at center, Hawaii football player Matagisila Lefiti has accepted a side job.

GAME DAY

» What: No. 19 Nevada (6-0, 1-0 Western Athletic Conference) vs. Hawaii (4-2, 2-0 WAC)
» When/where: 5:30 p.m., Saturday Aloha Stadium
» TV: Live on pay-per-view, Ch. 255
» Radio: KKEA, 1420 AM
» Parking: $5
» Parking lots: Lower Halawa opens 12:30 p.m.; all other lots open 1:30 p.m.
» Turnstile: 4 p.m.
» Tickets: 944-2697 or at hawaiiathletics.com

Lefiti yesterday practiced at right guard in place of Adrian Thomas, who was resting a sore back. Thomas is expected to start in Saturday’s game against Nevada, but the break enabled Lefiti to demonstrate his other skills.

"I used to play guard in high school, so it’s no big deal," said Lefiti, who played at Mater Dei High School in California.

Lefiti missed the first three games after undergoing foot surgery in May. In the four games since his return, Lefiti has split time with Bronson Tiwanak, with Tiwanak starting each game at center.

Lefiti has averaged a little more than 30 plays per game, In the 49-27 victory over Fresno State, Tiwanak played two more series than Lefiti because the Warriors elected to defer and take the opening kickoff of the second half. If UH gets the ball first in the second half, it is line coach Gordy Shaw’s policy to play the opening starters.

Both centers are averaging roughly the same grades, with Tiwanak slightly ahead.

Lefiti said he has occasional discomfort in his surgically repaired right foot, and estimated he is at 80 percent.

"I want to push hard and keep getting stronger," Lefiti said.

Hanohano’s rush

Predicting how defensive tackle Geordon Hanohano would play was like guessing the weather.

"He was hot and cold," defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga said.

But the thermostat was on high in Fresno this past weekend. Hanohano made his first NCAA sack, and he deflected a pass into the flat.

"It was an adrenaline rush," Hanohano said of the sack. "It was overwhelming, especially because it was third down. It was a big play by our coach (defensive coordinator Dave Aranda). Vaughn and everybody else on the line read it well. The quarterback ran right at me. I didn’t want to let him go."

As for the deflection, Hanohano said, "I got lucky with that. I jumped up and closed my eyes."

Meatoga, a co-captain, said Hanohano is finally fulfilling his potential.

"He’s always been able to play," Meatoga said. "But it was one of those things where it was hit or miss. He would do it some plays, then go backward the next play. He’s not in high school, anymore, and he’s a really big kid. He has a lot of talent. For being a big kid, he can run for days. I think he’s finally realizing what kind of player he can be."

After-school learning

It was during after-school hours that linebacker George Daily-Lyles learned how to make open-field tackles.

"I used to chase jackrabbits," said Daily-Lyles, a graduate of Long Beach Poly. "When the football season was over, we had nothing to do and we didn’t want to go home. We would just mess around school with a bunch of guys and chase jackrabbits."

Long Beach Poly adopted the nickname, Jackrabbits, because of the large number of leporids that used to occupy the campus.

Daily-Lyles said they only caught a few.

"They would cut here and there and be gone," he said. "You have to knock them off balance."

Uh, fear of disease?

"You’re not thinking of it when you’re young," Daily-Lyles said. "You go after them because it’s fun."

 

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