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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 20, 2006

UH needs someone to step up

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

 •  UH football team begins fine tuning

If anybody on the University of Hawai'i football team that plays Alabama in 13 days needs a reminder of what a 24-karat opportunity the game can be, they need only talk to Jason Whieldon.

Whieldon, a sparingly used backup quarterback for most of his two-year career at UH, remains as shining an example as the Warriors have of someone seizing the moment on the big stage.

In the penultimate regular-season game of his senior year, Whieldon came off the bench in relief of Tim Chang in 2003 and rallied the Warriors past Alabama, 37-29, before a rollicking Aloha Stadium crowd and a national cable audience. A fairy tale night on the Disney-owned network.

It was a five-touchdown four passing and a run 237-yard aerial performance that lives beyond the record book these days. It was a career night the glow of which has followed Whieldon into his post-football life in the family construction business in Orange County, Calif.

Even if Whieldon didn't have the glass case-enclosed game ball in a prominent place his home, the memories of that game would never be very far from his mind. Mostly because other people haven't let it.

"People I haven't seen for a while; people I knew back in high school, for example, always bring it up," Whieldon said.

But the point was best driven home, Whieldon said, by a chance encounter a few months back at an Anaheim, Calif., area golf course. "Someone, who was an Alabama alum and was actually in Hawai'i for the game, approached me at the clubhouse," Whieldon said. "It was kinda funny. I don't know how he knew me but he came up, said 'Hi', told me he enjoyed watching the game and how big a shock it was that they lost.

"It is kinda nice to hear those things, especially from somebody you don't know," Whieldon said.

The Crimson Tide fan wasn't the first Whieldon has come across. "There have been a few and they still have a bitter (taste) in their mouths, so that's probably a highlight of their compliment."

That game and the memories it is sure to trigger will have Whieldon watching and rooting for the result of UH's Sept. 2 season opener at Tuscaloosa.

"What a great way to start it off playing Alabama in their stadium with all their people there rooting against you," Whieldon said. "I like UH's style. I like the way Coach (June) Jones goes out and tries to schedule tough teams. It only makes you better. And, who knows? Little Hawai'i might step up and knock them off, again."

Indeed, you never know when there might be another Whieldon ready to warm to the spotlight.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.