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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 25, 2004

25 UH seniors never stopped believing

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

The University of Hawai'i football team bid a final farewell to its senior class yesterday, weeks after the expected end of the 2004 season.

UH's Abraham Elimimian loses the ball on this return of a blocked extra point. Elimimian, who was trying to score two points on the return, fumbled the ball into the end zone. Chad Kapanui recovered the ball, but was ruled out of the end zone, denying a score.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The class of 2000 compiled a 36-17 record and made three bowl appearances over the last four years, but it was the four wins to close this season that might have been the most memorable.

"It feels good," senior cornerback Abraham Elimimian said. "There's no better way that we could have drawn it up."

Hawai'i fans prepared to say aloha to the seniors with a festive Senior Night against Michigan State on Dec. 4. But the team found a way to make the season last one more game, defeating the Spartans, 41-38, to become bowl eligible.

"Nobody believed in us, but we made it through," senior linebacker Chad Kapanui said. "Having an extra game meant a lot for us."

Yesterday, the Warriors finally said good-bye to their 25 seniors, including six starters on offense and five on defense.

"I'm gonna miss all the playmakers. I mean Abraham, Lui (Fuga), all those guys, the list goes on and on," Hawai'i secondary coach Rich Miano said. "How are you gonna replace all those guys? But you have to reload eventually, and there's talent there."

Senior quarterback Tim Chang and senior slotback Chad Owens spoke about going through tough times and sticking together.

"It was a special class," Chang said.

Owens added: "I'm happy to be a part of that class and the way we finished."

While Chang and Owens led the way offensively, it was a "great all-around performance by the D-line, linebackers, and secondary," Elimimian said.

Seniors came up big defensively, with linebacker Watson Ho'ohuli leading the way with 9.5 tackles, and lineman Darrell Tautofi recording two sacks for a loss of eight yards.

"We already knew people thought we weren't going to make it," Tautofi said. "Sometimes you just feel like you don't want the season to end."

"We got a present, and this was it," Kapanui said. "I'm just happy I got to play one more game with my teammates, the coaches, and the fans."

Advertiser staff writer Ferd Lewis contributed to this report. Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.