Thursday, December 01, 2005

This is Real Cool!!!!

Now this is really cool. Two thumbs up to these young men. Seniors playing there last collegiate football game and for many their last organized football game period. Sacrifice, dedication, perserverance. You look and read about each of these seniors and it's simply amazing. It is especially amazing and cool for seniors who stuck it out and never had the chance to get on the field. Props to these young men, senior University of Hawaii Warriors. Aloha, God bless you all and thank you for making our state of Hawaii proud!!!! Cool, real cool!!!!!

Posted on: Thursday, December 1, 2005
Class truly a 'melting pot'


By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer



These Warriors will be playing in their final regular season football game Saturday. Front row, from left, are Nkeruwem "Tony" Akpan, Brandon Eaton, Tanuvasa Moe, Ikaika Curnan and Landon Kafentzis. Top row, from left, are Lono Manners, Lamar Broadway, Kila Kamakawiwo'ole, Derek Fa'avi, Adam Iloilo, Jeff Rhode, Kainoa Akina and Bryan Maneafaiga.


RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser



SAN DIEGO STATE AT HAWAI'I

Who: San Diego State Aztecs (5-6) at Hawai'i Warriors (4-7)

When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday

Where: Aloha Stadium

tickets: $30 (sideline), $27 (south end zone), $22 (north end zone), $17 (seniors and ages 4-18 north end zone), $5 (UH students). Parking is $5

RADIO: KKEA (1420 AM)

tv: Oceanic digital 255 (pay per view)




To prepare for the next geography bee, make a beeline to the University of Hawai'i football team's senior class.

The UH group, it seems, was assembled by MapQuest.

Defensive lineman Nkeruwem "Tony" Akpan is from Nigeria; defensive end Melila Purcell III is from American Samoa.

Cornerback Turmarian Moreland is from Florida; wideout Ian Sample is from New Jersey.

Safety Leonard Peters was born in America Samoa, but raised on O'ahu's North Shore. Safety Landon Kafentzis spent part of his youth in Hawai'i, but was raised mostly in the Northwest.

"We have a melting pot of athletes," UH coach June Jones said. "They represent what we're all about. It's great to put together different people from all walks of life, then watch them come together as one team. Working together is what makes people, businesses and football teams successful."

Indeed, this is one of the most successful classes in UH history. "They've been a part of three bowl games (in 2002, 2003 and 2004)," Jones said. "Even though we don't have a winning record this season, they're all winners. That's why we'd like to send them out with a win this week."

UH ends its regular season Saturday against San Diego State. Purcell, who did not play as a freshman in 2001, will return for a fourth season if he shows significant progress toward a bachelor's degree. Sample, Peters and running backs Nate Ilaoa and Bryan Maneafaiga are seeking medical hardships that will allow them to play next season.

Here's a look at this year's senior class:

KAINOA AKINA

Position: Quarterback

Hometown: Tucson, Ariz.

Graduation: Spring 2006 (management marketing)

Best memory: "Just making friends with everybody. Just being a part of something so diverse. We've got people, like Tony (Akpan), coming all the way from Nigeria, and people as far west as Keith Ah Soon from Samoa. That diversity is so neat."

Did you know: "I am a Star Wars junkie. I've got five of those replica light sabers. I'm there at 12:01 (for the premiere) with my Star Wars outfit. I was there with Obi-Wan, ready to go."

Jones' comment: "Kainoa is going to be a good football coach one day. He loves the game, and he always stayed positive, even though he's been in a frustrating situation for himself. But he's handled it like a champion."

NKERUWEM "TONY" AKPAN

Position: Defensive end

Hometown: Akwa-Ibom, Nigeria

Graduation: May 2006 (sociology)

Best memory: "My first football game, when the fans started chanting 'To-ny! ... To-ny!' I won't forget that."

Did you know: "I'm very ticklish. You try to touch my tummy, I'll jump and scream. That's how ticklish I am."

Jones' comment: "I'm going to miss Tony. He's been a pleasure to coach because he does exactly what you tell him to do. He does it 100 percent, no matter if it's practice or the game."

LAMAR BROADWAY

Position: Safety/cornerback

Hometown: Corona, Calif.

Graduation: May 2006 (sociology/speech)

Best memory: "Winning our first bowl (in 2003). That was my first taste of what college football is all about."

Did you know: "I don't sleep under the covers. I always sleep on the bed spread. My bed is made up, but I never sleep under the covers. I don't know."

Jones' comment: "I'm really proud of him. We've asked him to play everywhere. Last week, he played his best football game. He's a hitter. He pays attention to detail. He's given us everything he can."

IKAIKA CURNAN

Position: Inside linebacker

Hometown: Kealia, Kaua'i

Graduation: Summer 2006 (sociology)

Best memory: "Just being around all of the guys, and having fun on the field and off the field."

Did you know: The image of his mother's face is tattooed on Curnan's right arm.

Jones' comment: "I feel frustrated for him because of his ankle injury. He was probably our best defensive player for two years. He just gave unbelievable effort and tried so hard. For him to have that (ankle) injury, and the surgery, and not to come back from it 100 percent is just frustrating. I feel really bad for him. But he has come to practice every day, tried his hardest, and he's just a great kid."

BRANDON EATON

Position: Right guard

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Graduation: Dec. 18 (psychology)

Best memory: "Playing the University of Houston (in the 2003 Hawai'i Bowl). My best non-football memory is hanging with the boys, and being out here."

Did you know: "I love baseball more than football."

Jones' comment: "He's really grown up with us. When he first came here he was a young pup. He's gotten stronger. He pays attention to detail. He's become a leader. He'll get a chance, I think, to play at the next level. He's tough, and he's smart. You need those things in an offensive lineman."

DEREK FA'AVI

Position: Center

Hometown: 'Ewa Beach

Graduation: December 2006 (sociology)

Best memory: "Everything — the guys, the camaraderie."

Did you know: Fa'avi plays the guitar, ukulele and piano.

Jones' comment: "He's going to be the player we miss the most. He's a special guy. I think he has a chance to play in the NFL. It wouldn't surprise me if he gets an opportunity. He's extremely smart. He knows what we're doing. He's really blossomed as a captain and a leader for our team. He's going to be our most missed player next year."

JUSTIN FAIMEALELEI

Position: Linebacker

Hometown: Honolulu

Graduation: December 2006 (sociology)

Best memory: "I'll remember meeting a lot of new guys and making new friends."

Jones' comment: "He loves football. He comes to football practice every day, and tries as hard as he can. He earned a scholarship because of his efforts in a couple of games, when he put it on the line for us. That's what I'll remember about Justin."

NATE ILAOA

Position: Running back

Hometown: Stafford, Va.

Graduation: May 2006 (history)

Best memory: "Fresno State game, 2002, on the road. We went to the Dog Pound and came out with a victory. It wasn't supposed to be close. To beat Fresno, period, is nice, but to go into Fresno and win, that's a big memory."

Did you know: "I'm the mix tape champ."

Jones' comment: "Nate Ilaoa is probably our most talented player. He's battled through a lot of things. He's got the talent to play at the next level. It was unfortunate that he's battled through some tough things. Right now, everybody is realizing the potential that he has. He's a great kid. He's well-liked by his teammates. He's just a super, talented kid."

ADAM ILOILO

Position: Linebacker

Hometown: Blomington, Calif.

Graduation: Summer 2006 (history)

Best memory: "There are a lot of good memories, just spending time with the boys."

Did you know: "I'm the team barber."

Jones' comment: "He walked on and has done everything we've asked him to do. He practiced hard. He was our Scout Player of the Year, I think, last year. Those guys are as important as any of the starters. He loves football, and he loves the chemistry of the team. He's going to be a successful person in life."

LANDON KAFENTZIS

Position: Safety

Hometown: Richland, Wash.

Graduation: Summer 2006 (history)

Best memory: "The teammates, and friendships I've made."

Did you know: "I got married this past summer. She's from my hometown in Washington."

Jones' comment: "I think Kafentzis is a football player. He'll end up coaching one day. He's extremely smart. He does everything. He's been the captain of our punt team. He makes all of the calls. He's like a quarterback out there. He's going to be missed in that area."

KILA KAMAKAWIWO'OLE

Position: Outside linebacker

Hometown: Honolulu

Graduation: May 2006 (sociology)

Best memory: "Probably the friends I made here."

Did you know: He's a cousin of the late musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. His family runs Lamb of God, a Christian church.

Jones' comment: "Kila is a kid who has really blossomed in the system we're running. He has really, really taken it to another level. He's given us tremendous effort. He knows his assignments, and pays attention to detail in every phase. I think he'll be a very successful person when he leaves football."

BRYAN MANEAFAIGA

Position: Running back

Hometown: Wai'anae

Graduation: December 2006 (speech)

Best memory: "Giving my life to God. That's probably my biggest memory at UH."

Jones' comment: "Bryan is a walk-on who earned a scholarship, really through his efforts of working out, paying attention to detail, and wanting to become a player. He developed into one. Unfortunately, he was hurt early in the year and didn't get to play much this season. He had a change in his personal life. His belief in God has changed him. That, more than anything, has given him purpose in life. You can see that in his everyday walk."

LONO MANNERS

Position: Strong safety

Hometown: Wai'anae

Graduation: May 2006 (Hawaiian)

Best memory: "Hanging around the boys. On the field, it was the Fresno State game (at Fresno in 2002), when we pulled off the win. I'm not a dancer, but I was celebrating."

Did you know: Manners is the Warriors' strongest player (bench presses 500 pounds).

Jones' comment: "Lono has been so fun to watch. He earned his scholarship here. He's determined to be the best he can be. He's one of our hardest workers in the weight room and on the field. He's probably one of the best hitters I've seen since I've been here. He's had a couple of knockouts this year that probably nobody else in America could do. The one on (Southern California's) Reggie Bush I'll remember for a long time."

TANUVASA "T.J." MOE

Position: Linebacker/long-snapper

Hometown: Honolulu

Graduation: May 2006 (psychology)

Best memory: "Football-wise, it was when we beat Fresno my freshman year. If you've ever been to Fresno, you know they've got some hecklers over there. After we won, I was definitely on the bulldog (logo on the field). Coach Pat Hill was yelling at us, but we didn't care."

Did you know: "I like to barbecue. My speciality is Kalihi Super Meats' speciality. I grab the boneless chicken and kal bi, and pop them on the grill. It's perfect."

Jones' comment: "T.J. Moe has really come into his own. The first couple of years I didn't let him play (defense). I told him I'd eventually find a snapper (so he could play defense). But he's probably the best long-snapper I've had in pros or college. I think he'll get a chance to do that at the next level because he's athletic enough to make tackles. He works hard. When the game starts, he's a gamer. He knows what to do. He does his assignments correctly. He's been a real contributor."

TURMARIAN MORELAND

Position: Cornerback

Hometown: West Palm Beach, Fla

Graduation: Summer 2006 (speech/communications)

Best memory: "The last four games of last year, when we had that streak (of four victories in a row). And watching Timmy (Chang, UH's former quarterback) breaking the NCAA passing record."

Did you know: "I collect football cards. I have thousands of football cards."

Jones' comment: "It's unfortunate that after working hard to have a successful senior year, the (knee) injury kind of grabbed it, right when he was gaining the spotlight. He had two games in a row when he had picks. He really was coming into his own, getting the confidence he needed, and then he hurt his knee. That's just so unfortunate. He's a hard worker and a great kid. I'm sorry that he didn't get to play these last few games."

LEONARD PETERS

Position: Safety

Hometown: La'ie

Graduation: May 2006 (sociology)

Best memory: "I won't remember the games, but I'll remember all of the friends I made here, especially the senior class."

Did you know: Peters has never smoked or tasted alcohol.

Jones' comment: "Leonard Peters is probably the most talented free safety that we've had. He has a great ability to run. He has a great work ethic. His work ethic and leadership off the field are as important as on the field. He's a great football player."

MELILA PURCELL III

Position: Defensive end

Hometown: Pago Pago, American Samoa

Graduation: Summer 2006 (sociology)

Best memory: "Everything."

Did you know: He was 14 when he first dunked a basketball.

Jones' comment: "Mel is a guy who has a tremendous pain tolerance. He has played hurt the last three years, but he gives us 100 percent. When the game starts, it doesn't matter what's bothering him, he's willing to drop on a sword for his teammates. You need those guys to win, and he's that kind of guy. He's a winner."

JEFF RHODE

Position: Quarterback

Hometown: Eugene, Ore

Graduation: May 2006 (education)

Best memory: "If I stick to football, the most memorable — probably because of how loud it was — was the 2001 game against Fresno, when (Nick Rolovich) threw that (winning) touchdown pass in the end. That's the one I remember the most."

Did you know: "Every year I try to put up as many Christmas lights as I can to try to out-do every neighbor. Two years ago, when I was living in a house (in Kaimuki), I had that place lit up. We got in trouble for having too many lights because our landlord was paying our electric bill. A couple of times it shorted out because we used too much power."

Jones' comment: "Jeff is a winner. He's had a positive attitude. He's very competitive. He's wanted to play, and is frustrated he didn't really get the chance to play, but at the same time, he didn't change his attitude about preparing himself every week in case he did play. That's the sign of a winning person."

IAN SAMPLE

Position: Wideout

Hometown: Washington Township, N.J.

Graduation: Summer 2006 (English).

Best memory: "Being granted a full-ride scholarship."

Did you know: The son of former major league baseball player Billy Sample is writing a book.

Jones' comment: "He battled through a bunch of injuries. He was a walk-on who earned a scholarship. He ended up coming into his own, and was productive in our offense, then the knee injury removed that from him."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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