Friday, September 11, 1998
University of Hawaii defensive players Ben Bright and Stephen Gonzales were recommended to Hula Bowl officials on Wednesday by Rainbows head coach Fred vonAppen to play in the 1999 college all-star game on Maui.
for Hula Bowl
Both learned about the selection prior to yesterday's practice. Although they haven't been officially invited yet, Hula Bowl officials don't expect any problems from the selection committee.
''I'm real excited about it,'' Gonzales said before injuring his hand during yesterday's practice. ''It's a game that everybody has heard about. I'm looking forward to playing in it.''
Bright was pleased with the selection as well. The Kamehameha Schools graduate has been watching the game since he was young. The senior has quietly become one of the leaders on defense.
''It would be an honor,'' Bright said. ''Coming from here, you always dream about playing in this game.''
Last year, Eddie Klaneski, Chris Shinnick and Shane Oliveira played in the Hula Bowl. It's possible another UH senior will be selected later in the year.
INJURY REPORT: The depth at inside linebacker for Hawaii just got a little thinner after the fourth consecutive hard-hitting practice.
First, backup backer and special teams artist Jeff Ulbrich broke his right hand during a tackling drill. About a half-hour later, Gonzales ripped open his hand on a helmet bolt. It required 10 stitches to close.
Ulbrich could be out as many as two weeks, but vonAppen didn't hold as pessimistic a view as the medical staff.
"He can tape up that hand and be able to play, can't you Jeff,'' vonAppen said, then smiled. ''It would probably be tough to tackle, but I know he can kick field goals with a broken hand. It looks like it was just a nasty day for the linebackers.''
Despite the broken hand, Ulbrich closed out practice for the second consecutive day as a field-goal kicker. With his hand packed in ice, Ulbrich wasn't as successful as he was the day before. He hooked most of them to the left.
''My hand is throbbing,'' said Ulbrich, who was the only junior college player to come in at midterm. ''At first, I thought it was just jammed because you do that all the time, but when I looked down, the knuckle was gone. I knew it was broken then.''
Gonzales' gash was cause for concern as well. It bled profusely on the sidelines, forcing the trainers to don gloves and get him into the training room. UH trainers feared he had sliced a tendon in his little finger, but that proved unfounded. He will be able to play in Utah.
''We're going to miss Jeff if he can't play, especially on special teams,'' UH defensive coordinator Tom Williams said. ''But we've got some guys back there, who can step in and play. If we had lost both of those guys, that would have been a big blow.''
On a positive note, linebacker Rinda Brooks returned to practice yesterday after missing two workouts with a mild concussion. Freshman wide receiver Ray Harrington also suffered a concussion in Tuesday's practice and remained sidelined for another day.
Cornerback Donnell Williams returned to practice after missing most of the week with a hip pointer he picked up in the 27-6 loss to Arizona eight days ago. The only players out for the league opener are defensive backs Celnell Bobbitt (stress fracture) and Damien Arafiles (ankle sprain).
''We're still in pretty good shape,'' vonAppen said. ''Most of the guys who have been out will be back by next week. That includes tight ends Jimmy McClain (knee) and Chris Pinkney (knee).''
QUARTERBACK SHUFFLE: Don't be surprised if Shawn Withy-Allen makes the trip to Utah, instead of fellow local freshman Bronson Liana.
Withy-Allen's playing time has increased greatly this week. So much so, he almost is taking as many snaps from center as top quarterbacks Dan Robinson and Josh Skinner. The former Kalaheo High standout is not only being used in the passing game, but the option phase of practice as well.
''We haven't decided who will be making the trip,'' vonAppen said. ''We still have several more practices to watch those guys before we make a decision. We've been looking at our younger players at several positions.''
Chief among them are cornerback, where Phil Austin and Jovon Jiles have been competing with James Polk and Quincy LeJay.
Donnell Williams will start at one corner with the other corner still up for grabs.
VonAppen also gave freshman tight end James Bessard several looks this week. He told vonAppen after yesterday's practice, ''I love playing here, Coach.''
The third-year boss for UH responded, ''And we love having you big guy, but be patient. Your time will come.''
PRACTICE TIME: VonAppen took his players to Shriners Hospital today. He said he wanted to give the players some time off before returning Sunday for a full workout at Cooke Field.
''We want to get an early start because we're going to lose a day of practice because we're traveling,'' vonAppen said. ''We're a little leg-weary, but we need the work. This week has been good for us.''
By Paul Arnett