Unheralded Warriors steal show
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
It was windy and wet, an imperfect morning in almost every way, except to several University of Hawai'i football players who embraced their rare moment to shine.
Advertiser library photo
Shawn Withy-Allen completed 5-of-9 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown and scrambled for 16 yards.
Advertiser library photo
Yesterday's 54-play scrimmage at UH's grass practice field belonged to wide receiver Isaac Rodrigues, slotbacks Britton Komine and Clifton Herbert, and perpetually unheralded quarterback Shawn Withy-Allen.
"The young guys did a hell of a job out there," said UH assistant Ron Lee, who coaches the receivers.
The emphasis of yesterday's scrimmage - the last before next Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage to close the 15 days of spring practice - was on effort. While the three skirmishes, all of the hold-me-back sort, and some missed assignments drew the ire of the coaches, the improved passing game helped brighten what UH assistant Rich Miano described as "our mid-term exam."
Last year, the UH receivers had difficulty holding onto passes; in three games, they had double-digit drops. But yesterday, the three quarterbacks combined to complete 14 of 28 passes for 161 yards. The only interception came on a deflected pass that cornerback Gary Wright caught near his shoestrings.
"They dropped a couple but, by and large, they did a great job of catching the ball," Lee said of the receivers. "They're running their routes better. The thing I liked is they ran well after catching the ball."
Slotback Craig Stutzmann did not participate in the controlled scrimmage and right wideout Ashley Lelie was used as a punt returner, an experiment that probably will end following his no-yardage production. In their place, Herbert, Komine and Rodrigues excelled.
During the seven-on-seven drill, the speedy Herbert, a sophomore from Palmdale, Calif., caught three scoring passes. During the scrimmage, Herbert took a handoff on an inside reverse and sprinted 15 yards for a touchdown. Soon after, Herbert left with a sprained ankle that is not considered to be serious.
Komine, a redshirt freshman from Maryknoll School who is paying his own tuition, caught two passes for 44 yards, including a 12-yarder for a touchdown.
"I'm feeling good," Komine said. "It's good to get some work with the quarterbacks."
Rodrigues, a redshirt freshman from St. Louis School, also is not on scholarship, despite making The Advertiser's All-State football team in 1999. Rodrigues had five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Rodrigues said he did not receive any Division I scholarship offers as a high school senior. But citing a desire to play in front of family and friends, Rodrigues decided to join UH as a walk-on last August. His next goal, he said, "is to try and get a scholarship. That would be really great."
Meanwhile, Withy-Allen continues to be the guest who wouldn't leave. Withy-Allen, a Kalaheo High graduate, was signed in 1998 as an option quarterback. But after Fred vonAppen and his offense were dismissed after the 1998 season, Withy-Allen became a misfit in June Jones' run-and-shoot offense.
Each recruiting year, the Warriors brought in more quarterbacks, yet Withy-Allen never gave up the chase. Now Withy-Allen has improved to the point of being a serviceable quarterback, and his scrambling ability provides an added dimension. Yesterday, he completed five of nine passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, and he scrambled for another 16 yards.
"The confidence has really changed my game this spring," said Withy-Allen, who also credits his deep Christian faith. "To be honest, all that keeps me going is God keeps pushing me. He says, 'Stay here, keep fighting.' It hasn't been easy, but if you keep striving forward, the promises will come in the end."
RUSHING: Chad Kapanui 4-22, Shawn Withy-Allen 1-16, Thero Mitchell 3-15, Clifton Herbert 1-15, Jonathan Kauka 4-14, Tui Ala 3-6, Steven Mahelona 2-5, Ken Witherspoon 3-1, Colin O'Reilly 3-(minus) 1, Chad Owens 1-(minus) 2, Tim Chang 1-(minus) 5.
PASSING: Nick Rolovich 7-12-0-82, Shawn Withy-Allen 5-9-0-69, Tim Chang 2-7-1-10.
RECEIVING: Isaac Rodrigues 5-65, Britton Komine 2-44, Mark Tate 1-15, Jason Haskell 1-10, Jonathan Kauka 1-8, Gerald Welch 1-6, Tafiti Uso 1-5, Thero Mitchell 1-5, Chad Owens 1-3.