Warriors aim to kick it up a notch
By Ferd Lewis
Even by the standards of placekickers, who can be about as reclusive as the Maytag repairman, Scott Enos has been a solitary figure for much of the University of Hawai'i's spring football sessions to date.
He stretches alone on the sidelines. He kneels by himself off to the side. And, he kicks against himself.
But Enos' quiet, solitudinarian existence and lack of competition could end as soon as tomorrow when Kyle Niiro, a walk-on from Kaiser High, is expected to join the roster.
Come two-a-day practices in August, Tyler Hadden, a highly regarded freshman from Whittier, Calif., is scheduled to plunge into the mix.
On a team that has necessarily endorsed the "every-job-is-up-for-grabs" mantra, plackekicker is one of the last frontiers to finally be thrown open.
The challenge is good for the Warriors who have progress to make in the kicking game, and it is something relished by the coaches who have gone so far as to hold tryouts to promote it.
But you might be surprised to learn that it is also a change endorsed by the incumbent, the man whose job it is to lose, Enos.
Either Enos is a better actor than a kicker or he, too, genuinely wants to feel the force of competition for a job he won easily to replace Dan Kelly as a junior college transfer in the fall.
Is he hearing approaching footsteps? "No," Enos maintains. "I'm trying to focus on what I have to do. (But) I like kicking with someone rather than just by myself. When the new guy gets here it will be fun because we'll be able to make each other better."
Enos made good on 12 of 19 field-goal attempts and all 34 extra-point kicks last season, respectable numbers to be sure.
But the Warriors, in looking to boost the point production of an offense that ranked 89th in scoring at 22.8 points per game, are looking for more. Specifically, more consistency and accuracy of range this season.
They would like, assistant coach Chris Tormey said, an 80 percent success rate on field goals compared with last year's 63 percent.
Enos has spent the time since the end of the 2009 season trying to demonstrate that he can deliver on those goals. "I feel stronger, more flexible, more experienced, more confident," Enos said.
Niiro, who emerged from the campus tryouts, could provide a test. Hadden, the prize in a wide-ranging recruiting dragnet, was ranked the No. 11 placekicker at a national event last summer and should provide an additional push when he arrives for fall camp.
Shortly, Enos' solitude will be broken. Whether his grip on the starting position eventually goes with it remains to be seen.