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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 23, 2009

UH's pregame ha'a on endangered list


By Stephen Tsai
HawaiiWarriorBeat.com Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Running back Leon Wright-Jackson was pleased to be at practice.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Safety Mana Silva receives instruction from assistant coach Chris Tormey.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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It appears the three-year production of the Hawai'i football team's pre-game chant might be coming to an end.

The UH seniors will decide tomorrow whether to continue performing the ha'a, which has gained national attention and spawned imitations in Texas, Utah, New Mexico and California.

"It's up to the players," UH head coach Greg McMackin said. "I mentioned it in the meetings. I told the players it was their decision to do it or not do it."

The players have not practiced the ha'a during spring training or the 2 1/2-week training camp, which ended yesterday.

With UH's fall semester starting tomorrow, the players have limited free time. The season opener is Sept. 4 against Central Arkansas.

"Right now we're not thinking about the ha'a," senior defensive tackle Rocky Savaiigaea said. "We're thinking about the first game. That's our only focus."

The Warriors performed the haka, a traditional Maori war chant, before the 2004 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.

In 2006, offensive tackle Tala Esera and safety Leonard Peters created UH's version of the haka. The Warriors debuted that haka during the warmup period before the road game against Alabama.

The following year, defensive tackle Keala Watson, safety Keao Monteilh and linebacker Brad Kalilimoku created a ha'a a Hawaiian-influenced Polynesian chant for the Warriors.

That version also was performed last season, McMackin's first as UH head coach.

But the ha'a co-designers completed their eligibility, and Watson's brother, defensive tackle Keahi Watson, is not on this year's active roster.

While McMackin likes the ha'a, he said, "right now, that's not my big concern. It's not on the practice schedule."

KICKING GAME SET

The coaches today will meet to reconfigure the depth chart.

They will decide on the top backup to No. 1 quarterback Greg Alexander. Brent Rausch, a junior, and sophomores Shane Austin and Bryant Moniz are competing for the job.

The decision is important because the Warriors now will give reps in team and passing drills to only the top two quarterbacks. Alexander will get twice as many reps as the No. 2 quarterback; the other two will get mental reps.

Freshmen David Graves, Corey Nielsen and Cayman Shutter are expected to redshirt. They will serve as scout-team quarterbacks this season.

McMackin announced that Scott Enos, who was competing against Brian Blumberg for the kicker's job, will be the successor to Dan Kelly.

"I'll say it: Scott Enos is our kicker. Period," McMackin said.

Luke Ingram, who has been bothered by a sprained right ankle, will be the long-snapper.

Running back Inoke Funaki will be the holder.

KAFENTZIS HAS SURGERY

Former UH safety Kent Kafentzis underwent what is believed to be successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his left kidney. The procedure was considered to be dangerous because the tumor was impacting a major artery.

Kafentzis now will await the results of a biopsy to determine his next treatment.

He is one of eight Kafentzis members to play for the Warriors. Brothers Mark, Kurt, Kyle and Sean were UH defensive backs. His nephews safety Landon Kafentzis, linebacker Tyson Kafentzis, and running back Mikhail Kafentzis were recent Warriors.

WAHINE CLINIC AT UH

The second Wahine Football Clinic, hosted by McMackin and his wife, Heather, will be Wednesday at the UH athletic complex.

The first phase will be in the Stan Sheriff Center.

"We'll talk about how coaches and players prepare for a game," Heather McMackin said. "We'll show how a scouting report is put together, and how they formulate a game plan."

The second session will be at Ching Field. There will be several stations, each featuring a position coach and players.

"The players will demonstrate techniques," she said.

She said coaches and players will offer instruction on the technical requirements for each position.

"If they want, they can learn how to throw or catch a football," she said. "If not, they can enjoy listening."

The $10 pre-registration fee includes a football manual and refreshments. Walk-up registration is $15.

Check-in begins at 6 p.m. in the Sheriff Center.

The clinic starts at 7 p.m.

To register, go to http://www.hawaiiathletics.com, then click on the "camps" section.

Details also are available at (808) 956-6508.