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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 6, 2001

Warriors pick Stutzmann, Iosua as team's captains

 • Seasoned soph Chang at home as starting QB
 • Game could be counted in bowl bid

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Slotback Craig Stutzmann and defensive tackle Mike Iosua were overwhelmingly selected as captains of the University of Hawai'i football team.

The players voted Tuesday morning, and UH coach June Jones announced the results at the end of yesterday's two-hour morning practice.

"I cheated," Stutzmann said, laughing. "I stuffed the ballot box."

But quarterback Tim Chang said Stutzmann's leadership and workmanlike attitude made him an easy selection.

"He brings a lot to the team," Chang said.

Said Stutzmann: "It's a great honor to be named team captain by the players. It's a great responsibility to carry. I'm ready for that weight."

Stutzmann, a St. Louis School graduate, said he has fully recovered from a ligament tear in his left arch that slowed him for much of last season. He also has shed 10 pounds through intensive summer training, and now weighs 190.

Iosua, who was raised in Washington, is considered to be a quiet leader. Last year, he played despite an injured shoulder, sprained ankle and broken thumb. In preseason training, he suffered a sprained right shoulder, but continued to practice. He is expected to start in Saturday night's season opener against Montana at War Memorial Stadium on Maui.

"Even before the votes were counted, I knew he would be one of the choices," defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. "He brings a lot to this team."

Iosua is admittedly "not too vocal." But he said, "I try to work hard. Everybody out there is working hard, and I want to push myself, too."

In Jones' system, the captains represent the team in a pregame meeting with the referees. The captains also are used in handling internal disputes and in leading conditioning drills.

"We have a lot of leaders on the team," Iosua said. "I hope I can represent the players well."

• Health report: Safety Jacob Espiau said his availability is "questionable" for Saturday's game.

Espiau has been diagnosed with a strained abdominal muscle, although athletic trainers cannot pinpoint why he feels well some days but not others.

On Tuesday, Espiau competed in contact drills with the first defensive unit. But yesterday, "he came out here and was no longer ready to go," said Rich Miano, who coaches the secondary.

Jones said Espiau "has some kind of a weird strain."

Said Espiau: "No one really knows what it is. It's a mystery injury."

If Espiau cannot play, Robert Grant will start. But Lempa, the defensive coordinator, predicted that Espiau "will play. He's a gamer. He's our quarterback on defense. I know he's looking forward to this game and I know he will play."

• Tickets plus: Left tackle Lui Fuata, who was raised on Maui, said about 30 friends and relatives will attend Saturday's game.

The team leader appears to be strong-side linebacker Joe Correia, another former Maui resident, who will have about 40 supporters.

Each UH player receives two complimentary tickets. Correia said he is giving his free tickets to former St. Louis School teammate George Ornellas, who now lives on Lana'i.

"He's one of my good friends," Correia said of the state's best high school football player in 1994. Ornellas played three games for UH as a freshman in 1995 before quitting the team.

"Too bad he didn't continue playing," Correia said. "He would have been a great college player."

• Waiting game: Jones said freshman slotback Nate Ilaoa, who was named as the Washington Post's Metro Player of the Year in 2000, might redshirt this season.

Jones said he left the choice to Ilaoa, and has not set a deadline for a decision.

UH's two starting slotbacks are seniors.