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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 22, 2006

Warriors get big on defense

UH football practice gallery

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

University of Hawai'i running back Nate Ilaoa takes a handoff from quarterback Colt Brennan during yesterday's practice. The Warriors will take on Arizona State from the Pac-10 in Sunday's Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl at Aloha Stadium.

Photos by BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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UH quarterback Colt Brennan takes a breather during yesterday's practice in preparation for Sunday's Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.

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ON THE AIR

KGMB (channel 9, cable 7) will telecast a Hawai'i Bowl preview as part of the June Jones Show 6:30 p.m. today. The show will be re-aired 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.

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The University of Hawai'i football team is not reloading.

It appears to be building an army of highly-ranked defensive linemen.

The Warriors yesterday secured a commitment from a third 3-star defensive lineman when Ray Hisatake of the College of San Mateo accepted a scholarship offer.

"Hawai'i is the place for me," said Hisatake, who is 6 feet 4 and 315 pounds.

He said he will sign his national letter of intent this weekend, enroll at UH in January and participate in spring practice in April.

Hisatake already has earned an associate degree, one of the NCAA eligibility requirements for an incoming junior-college transfer.

He will have three years to play two seasons for the Warriors.

"This is a big-time 'get' for Hawai'i," said Jeremy Crabtree, national recruiting editor for the Rivals.com scouting service.

Hisatake is the seventh prospect and third defensive lineman to commit to UH. Vaughn Meatoga of Kamehameha Schools and Chris Leatigaga of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif., also received 3-star ratings from national recruiting services. Running back Leon Jackson, who played at Nebraska in 2005, was a 4-star prospect.

"I don't think Hawai'i has ever had that many 3-star defensive linemen," Crabtree said.

Crabtree said a 3-star player "projects to be a multi-year starter with pro potential."

Hisatake attended Westmoor High School (Daly City, Calif.), which did not field a football team. Instead, he competed in discus and shot put for four years and basketball as a senior.

"San Mateo has a really good throwing program, so I decided to go there," Hisatake said. "When I got there, I thought I'd give football a shot."

San Mateo coach Larry Owens said Hisatake's was "really raw" as a freshman.

"He didn't have any habits," Owens said. "He had to learn the nuances of the game. But he really worked hard. It's a credit to how hard he worked."

By the start of this season, Hisatake caught the attention of a Pac-10 coach.

"The coach said we needed to check him out," Crabtree recalled. "The coach said that everybody who played against him felt he had a lot of potential.

"He's not perfect," Crabtree added. "He needs to get bigger and faster. But he does have all of the tools. Right now he's still a little bit of a white canvas. But he has the potential to develop into a better player."

Hisatake went on recruiting trips to UH, San Jose State and New Mexico. But he said he felt most comfortable with the UH program. He praised the players and coaching staff, especially defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold.

"He's a good coach and a good person," Hisatake said of Reinebold. "He's a good friend of my coach (Owens)."

Hisatake had set Wednesday as the deadline to announce his decision. But he waited until he could notify the San Jose State coaches.

"I enjoyed my stays (at San Jose and New Mexico)," Hisatake said. "They're both great programs. Their players and coaches are great. Their facilities are great. It's not like I didn't like this or didn't like that. I feel Hawai'i is the best place for me. That's how I based my decision."

Crabtree said Hisatake, who will compete at nose tackle, will benefit from participating in spring practice.

"You can't stress the importance of getting early work," Crabtree said. "It speeds up the learning curve than having a kid come in during the summer."

Hisatake said his Japanese surname comes from his great-great grandfather, whose wife was Samoan.

"I'm a quarter of a quarter Japanese," Hisatake said. The rest is Samoan.

Hisatake said his sister lives in Honolulu.

ASU HAS AN AX TO CARRY

Arizona State defensive coordinator Bill Miller often reminds his defensive players that going through a season is like chopping wood.

In a symbolic gesture, Miller chooses a player to carry an ax for a week.

"It's like, 'every day you're ready to chop wood,' " linebacker Derron Ware said. "The ax represents what chopping wood means. I was the first one to hold it after he started doing it."

There are no breaks for the caretaker, who has to carry the ax to classes.

"Everybody looks at us like we're crazy," Ware said. "We're at hotels carrying it, and everybody is like, 'Is that an ax?' It feels a little weird, but we cover it with stickers and ASU logos."

Ware said defensive end Dexter Davis is in charge of the ax while the Sun Devils prepare for Sunday's Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl against UH.

"I haven't seen the ax since we got out here," Ware said. "I'm sure it made it here."

HUMBLING TRIP TO PEARL

The Sun Devils experienced an emotional visit to Pearl Harbor yesterday.

"It was very humbling," ASU coach Dirk Koetter said. "It made you appreciate what you've got. The fact we're stressing out over football games when they made it clear that most of the guys who died were ... college-age guys, the same age as our players. It really makes you appreciate the guys who protect our freedom."

ASU offensive lineman Brandon Rodd, an 'Aiea High School graduate who used to paddle near Pearl Harbor, said it was his first visit since he was in elementary school.

"It was nice for the guys on the team to learn a little bit about our history," Rodd said. "We learned the youngest guy to die (during the Pearl Harbor attack) just celebrated his 17th birthday. To think of war, a football game is nothing compared to that. We're just playing a game. They're out there playing for their lives."

NOTES AND UPDATES

  • UH outside linebacker Brashton Satele, who is recovering from a pulled left hamstring, practiced yesterday and said he expects to play on Sunday.

    "It's still a little tight, but it's the last game, so I'm going to go all out," Satele said.

  • UH running backs Nate Ilaoa and Reagan Mauia have declared themselves physically fit. Ilaoa was suffering from a bruised left heel, and Mauia has been wearing heavy wrapping on his injured right elbow.

  • After yesterday's practice, the Warriors performed a revised version of their haka for the youngsters attending a soccer camp.

    • • •

    SHERATON HAWAI'I BOWL

    WHAT: University of Hawai'i (10-3) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

    WHEN: 3:05 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24

    WHERE: Aloha Stadium

    TV: Live nationwide on ESPN with Mark Jones (play-by-play), David Norrie (analyst) and Heather Cox (sideline).

    AUDIO WEBCAST: espn1420am.com

    RADIO: Live on ESPN 1420, with Bobby Curran (play-by-play), Robert Kekaula (color) and John Veneri (sideline). Don Robbs hosts "Warrior Warm-up" beginning at 2 p.m. and also the halftime show. Neighbor Island simulcasts can be heard live on KAOI on Maui/Kona, KPUA in Hilo and KQNG on Kaua'i.

    TICKET PRICES: $10 to $45.

    TICKET SALES: On sale online at sheratonhawaiibowl.com, or by calling 548-BOWL (2695) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or at Stan Sheriff Center, Aloha Stadium, UH Campus Center, RainBowtique and Windward Community College's OCET Office during normal business hours. Convenience fees may apply.

    GATES OPEN: Parking lot gates at Aloha Stadium will open at 10 a.m. Stadium gates open at 11 a.m.

    ALOHA STADIUM PARKING: $5

    ALTERNATIVE PARKING (no tailgating):

    • Leeward Community College (free parking and $2 per person charge for shuttle service); opens 11 a.m.

    (A giveaway of stadium concession coupons for two free 32-ounce soft drinks ($7 value) to the first 500 drivers who use this parking site.)

    • Kamehameha Drive-In ($5 with free shuttle service); opens 11 a.m.

    (A giveaway of stadium concession coupons for two free 32-ounce soft drinks ($7 value) for the first 500 drivers who use this parking site.)

    • Radford High School ($3 with no shuttle service); opens 11 a.m.

    SECURITY: Only fanny packs, purses, backpacks and handbags will be allowed into stadium (subject to check).

    TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Sports Radio ESPN 1420 will provide traffic advisories and updates.

    BUS SHUTTLES:

    Roberts Hawaii is offering round trip "air conditioned" shuttle bus services to Aloha Stadium for $6 from three O'ahu areas.

    Bus No. 1 will pick up at the Mililani Mauka Park n' Ride at 1 p.m. and go directly to the stadium.

    Bus No. 2 will pick up at the Hawai'i Kai Park n' Ride at 12:15 p.m., at Bank of Hawai'i at Kahala Mall at 12:45 and proceed to the stadium.

    Bus No. 3 will pick up at the Kailua District Park, Kainalu Avenue at 12:15 p.m., at Windward Mall Shopping Center on Alaloa Street facing Sears at 12:45 and proceed to the stadium.

    The shuttle will depart from Aloha Stadium half hour after the game ends.

    Reservations are required and service is first come, first serve. Call Roberts School Bus at 832-4886 for reservations and additional information.

    CITY BUS SERVICE

    The FootballExpress offers 17 pickup locations throughout O'ahu.

    The first trip from each location leaves approximately three hours before kickoff and the last trip leaves approximately 90 minutes before the game. Return trips leave as soon as the bus is full, with the final trip leaving 30 minutes after the game ends.

    Honolulu pickup locations are at:

    • Ala Moana (Kona Street), noon, 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m.

    • Downtown (Alapai Transit Center), 12:10 p.m., 12:40, 1:10, 1:40.

    • Palolo (Waialae, Palolo, fronting McDonald), 12:02 p.m., 12:32 p.m., 1:02 p.m.

    • University of Hawai'i (Sinclair Circle), 12:10 p.m., 12:50, 1:10, 1:30.

    • Kahala Mall (Waialae, Kilauea across mall), noon, 12:40, 1:10, 1:40.

    • Kaimuki (Koko Head, Waialae, fronting Liliuokalani Elementary), noon, 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m.

    • Waikiki (Monsarrat at Kapiolani Boulevard), 11:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., noon, 12:15, 12:30, 12:50, 1, 1:10, 1:30.

    • Hawai'i Kai (Keahole St., Hawai'i Kai Park & Ride), 12:15 p.m., 12:30, 12:45, 1, 1:15, 1:30.

    Leeward pickups are at:

    • 'Ewa Beach (Fort Weaver, Kaimalie before 'Ewa Beach Shopping Center), noon, 1:20.

    • Kapolei (Kamokila Boulevard at Kahuhihewa State Building), noon, 1:40.

    • Mililani Mauka (Ukuwai Strett at Mililani Park & Ride), noon, 1 p.m., 1:40.

    • Village Park (Kupuohi Street, Royal Kunia Park & Ride), 12:20 p.m. and 1:40.

    Windward pickups are at:

    • Kalaniana'ole/Kailua (acros Castle Medical Center), noon, 1:20.

    • Kailua: Keolu/Hele (across Enchanted Lake Shopping Center), 12:05 p.m., 1:25.

    • Kailua / Hahani (Kailua Shopping Center), 12:10 p.m., 1:30.

    • Kaneohe Bay / Mokapu (fronting Aikahi Shopping Center), noon, 1:20.

    • Kaneohe Bay / Makalani (across Windward City Shopping Center), 12:10 p.m., 1:30.

    Buses will leave the stadium when the bus is full and the last return trip will leave a half-hour after the game ends.

    Rates are $3 one way and $6 roundtrip. Passes and transfers are not accepted.

    For information, go to: http://www.thebus.org

    ALOHA STADIUM PARKING PLAN:

    The stadium authority has released a set of new plans to help prevent gridlock at this weekend's Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.

    The authority has created the following procedures for the Christmas Eve game:

    -- Cancellation of the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet on Sunday only.

    -- Opening parking gates at 10 a.m., five hours before the 3 p.m. kick-off.

    -- Halawa gate, Gate 3, will be used as the entry for upper and lower Halawa parking lot only.

    -- Lower Salt Lake gate, Gate 4, will be used for entry for upper and lower Halawa parking lot.

    -- Kamehameha Lot gate, Gate 5, will be used for entry for Kamehameha Lot only.

    Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.