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• Warriors rose to the occasion
Warriors rose to the occasion
By Duane Shimogawa Jr. – The Garden Island
Everyone from Hilo to Hanalei doubted the University of Hawai‘i football team, who shocked the state on its way to a Hawai‘i Bowl appearance on Dec. 24.
Most, if not everyone thought that the Warriors would be at home watching the Hawai‘i Bowl, instead of playing in it. I doubted UH going into the game against Idaho, but that was after a disastrous loss to Fresno St., another embarrassment on national television. The first came at the hands of Boise State.
The last three weeks for the Warriors were the best games they’ve played all season long and they saved it for the perfect time — crunch time.
Head coach June Jones didn’t have any doubt in his mind that his team would bounce back after earlier defeats.
“I would say that this team has a lot of character and a lot of heart. They responded. I told them in the locker room after the Fresno State game that they have an opportunity to do something that nobody expects them to do. I told them that this feeling will all go away if we go home and win our last three games and it will be something they will never forget.”
And they did exactly that with two wins over Big Ten teams, who probably took UH for granted. Hawai‘i fought back in both games and won in dramatic fashion behind super seniors like Tim Chang, Chad Owens, and West Keli‘ikipi.
Against Michigan St., a team that beat national powerhouse Wisconsin earlier in the year and nearly beat in-state rival Michigan, Jones felt that the crowd played a big part in the win.
“The crowd was really into the game and I’m very thankful and appreciative of that. I thought the guys played really hard and I haven’t seen the tape on the defense yet, but I thought Timmy made some unbelievable throws under pressure that went unnoticed. We struggled early again, but fortunately came back. The defense made the stops when they needed to and the offense started to click,” Jones said.
Up next for the Warriors is a Conference USA team that mirrors an early season opponent, which surprised them.
“We will get the tapes today. I don’t really know too much about them, but I’m sure they have a lot of talented players. Them and Troy State seem to get those types of athletes that Florida Atlantic gets, so I’m sure they are going to be good,” Jones said.
If they win or lose the Hawai‘i Bowl, it really won’t matter, at least not to me, because they’ve already won my respect and they showed me that they are capable of winning with their backs against the wall. With the bowl season starting up next week, I know one bowl pick that I won’t doubt and that’s the Hawai‘i Bowl, with the Warriors winning it in convincing fashion on their home turf, the last time the seniors will play at Aloha Stadium.
Duane Shimogawa Jr., Sports Editor can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) and email@example.com
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