Ex-Warriors eager to play in Hula Bowl
|||2006 Hula Bowl rosters|
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Brandon Masuoka
Tanuvasa Moe gave the Cornerstone Bancard Hula Bowl rave reviews yesterday and said he couldn't wait to play in the historic football game that featured his childhood heroes and showcased University of Hawai'i players.
After eight years on Maui, the Hula Bowl returns to Honolulu for its 60th anniversary on Jan. 21 at Aloha Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
"It's a huge honor to me, just seeing the guys who came before me, especially from UH," said Moe, a former Warriors linebacker. "They're all guys I've looked up to ever since I was a little kid. I've always seen them get invited to the Hula Bowl and it's a great honor for me to be in this position now. Hopefully, I can do the same thing they did and represent Hawai'i and the local boys over here."
Moe is one of eight players with Hawai'i ties invited to the Hula Bowl, joining former UH teammates Lono Manners (safety), Kila Kamakawiwo'ole (defensive end) and Brandon Eaton (guard). Texas Tech tight end Bristol Olomua (Kahuku), Washington inside linebacker Joe Lobendahn (Saint Louis), Colorado nose guard Vaka Manupuna (Saint Louis) and Wisconsin center Donovan Raiola (Kamehameha) complete the Hawai'i contingent.
The Hawai'i group — except for Raiola — will play for the West squad, which will be coached by Washington's Tyrone Willingham with former UH coach and current San Jose State coach Dick Tomey as one of the assistants.
The Hawai'i players join a glamourous list of past Hula Bowl stars, including Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Rogers, Jim Plunkett, Tony Dorsett, Billy Sims, Mike Garrett, Steve Owens, Rashaan Salaam, Danny Wuerffel, Ricky Williams, Ron Dayne and Eric Crouch.
In addition, three former UH players have earned Hula Bowl MVP awards: quarterback Nick Rolovich (2002), defensive back Blane Gaison (1981) and linebacker Tim Buchanan (1969).
The Hula Bowl — the longest running sports attraction in Hawai'i — has been hurt by dwindling attendance, and organizers are hoping a return to Honolulu will rejuvenate the game.
Seating at Aloha Stadium will be limited to 25,000 in the lower bowl, and organizers are targeting a crowd between 20,000 to 25,000.
"We feel we can make that goal happen," Hula Bowl spokesman Lincoln Jacobe said.
The former UH players praised organizers for moving the game back to Honolulu.
"I'm excited to play in front of my family, and the people of Hawai'i," Manners said.
"It's good that they moved it here," Kamakawiwo'ole added. "A lot of my family is coming to the game. They already bought tickets for the game. A lot of people are asking me for tickets, so it's good for Hawai'i people."
Most players, such as UH's Eaton, are looking at the Hula Bowl as an audition to play professional football.
NFL scouts will attend practices and an NFL-type combine workout will be held for players, organizers said.
"It's a stepping stone," Eaton said. "You have to go out and play hard. It's an opportunity so you can make it to the next level."
Joe Lobendahn said he will participate in pre-game festivities, but won't play in the Hula Bowl after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against visiting Oregon State on Nov. 5. ... Lobendahn, Tanuvasa Moe and Vaka Manupuna are former Saint Louis School players. "It's kind of like a Saint Louis reunion of my class," Lobendahn said. "We have a lot of catching up to do."
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