Center Estes is Warriors' MVP
The Hawai'i football team's ironman — center John Estes — yesterday was named winner of the Alec Waterhouse award as the Warriors' most valuable player for 2009.
Estes started all 54 games of a UH career that ended with Saturday's 51-10 loss to Wisconsin. In a study by UH's sports information department, Estes' streak is the longest in NCAA Division I-A history.
In accepting the award, named after the founder of Na Koa, the program's official booster club and sponsor of yesterday's awards banquet at the Sheraton Waikíkí Hotel, Estes praised the defense he went against in every practice.
"They were a pain ... but I (benefitted from) every second of it," Estes said.
Estes, a senior from Stockton, Calif., started his UH career as a right guard. He moved to center in 2007, succeeding Samson Satele, now with the Oakland Raiders.
Estes, who received a commemorative koa bowl for the streak, also was honored as an offensive captain.
Linebacker Blaze Soares, who had conquered a variety of injuries to emerge as the Warriors' defensive leader, was named winner of the Ben Yee Most Inspirational Award.
Soares, a senior from Castle High, was hindered most of the 2007 season because of a stinger that prevented him from raising his left arm. He missed all of last season because of a torn ligament below his left calf.
It was feared Soares might not be able to play this season. He was not listed as a starter on the preseason depth chart. But Soares started every game. He also was the vocal leader in sparking the Warriors' four-game winning streak entering the regular-season finale.
Although Soares has grounds for an appeal that will allow him to play as a sixth-year senior in 2010, he is expected to instead train for a shot at an NFL career.
Estes and Soares will graduate Dec. 19.
Left slotback Greg Salas was named UH's top offensive player, and safety/nickelback Spencer Smith was selected as the top defender. Salas and Smith are juniors.
Corey Paredes, a linebacker who was placed on scholarship in August, was named the top special-teams player.
Captain's Award: R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane.
Scout Team Award: Brett Leonard.
Scholar-Athlete Award: Mana Silva.
Most Improved Player: Jon Medeiros.
Warrior Club: Rocky Savaiigaea.