Kafentzis and Tomey will cross paths, finally
The plan was simple ... or so Landon Kafentzis thought.
As the end of his prep career approached, the Richland (Wash.) High School senior was sold on signing with Arizona and playing for Dick Tomey, the coach who guided his father and uncles through their college football careers at Hawaii.
But just as Kafentzis entertained thoughts of roaming the Wildcats secondary under Tomey's tutelage, the plan swiftly unraveled.
Kafentzis turned out to be the last recruit Tomey secured before stepping down as coach. And two years later, Kafentzis left the school as well.
Their meandering paths will finally intersect on a football field tomorrow, when Kafentzis, now a Hawaii safety, lines up opposite Tomey's San Jose State team at Spartan Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon Hawaii time.
"I never would have thought I'd be going up against him in college. It's crazy," Kafentzis said as Hawaii prepared for its Western Athletic Conference road trip. "I'm excited for the opportunity and we'll see how it goes."
Tomey was hired at SJSU last December and his ties with the Kafentzis family date back to his days at UH in the 1980s.
Landon's father, Mark, played for Tomey as a UH defensive back in 1980 and 81. His uncles -- Kent, Kurt, Kyle and Sean -- soon followed, making the Kafentzis name a fixture in the UH secondary for much of the decade.
After leaving UH, Tomey spent the next 14 years at Arizona, and his history with the family convinced him to try to lure Landon to Tucson.
"The Kafentzis brothers were all terrific players," Tomey said after SJSU's practice yesterday. "(Landon) reminded me much of some of the brothers, and Mark's still the one who accomplished the most in football.
"They were all great competitors, and when you know that about someone's family, that's a compelling reason to take a long look."
Likewise, his father's experience playing for Tomey helped seal Landon's decision.
"It played a big part because my dad and my uncles played for him and they just told me what kind of coach he was, and what kind of person he was," Kafentzis said. "He was really a player's coach and I was really excited to play for a coach like him."
But Tomey decided to leave Arizona after a 5-6 season in 2000 and returned to Hawaii, where he worked as a television analyst for UH games. He rejoined the coaching profession as an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers in 2003. He was the assistant head coach with the Texas Longhorns last year before being hired to rebuild San Jose State's program.
Kafentzis stuck around in Arizona for two years, redshirting his first year with the Wildcats and playing sparingly in 2002. He spent a year at Pima Community College in Tucson and enrolled at Hawaii last year along with his younger brother, Tyson, now a redshirt-freshman linebacker.
Landon posted 33 tackles as a junior and has started the Warriors' last four games at free safety, helping fill the void left when safety Leonard Peters suffered a knee injury in the season opener against USC. He has 17 total tackles so far this season and broke up a pass.
"He's done a nice job," said defensive backs coach Rich Miano, who played with Mark Kafentzis at UH. "He's smart, he's aggressive, he's passionate about what he does and he's focused on trying to get the most of his last year of college football."
Although he never played for Tomey, Kafentzis did end up following his father's path by attending UH. And he's savoring the chance to add to his family's legacy in Manoa.
"I'm treasuring the moment and making the best of it," he said.
Eaton named to Hula Bowl: UH offensive lineman Brandon Eaton has been invited to play in the Hula Bowl in January.
"He's deserving, that's for sure," UH coach June Jones said.
The 60th Hula Bowl is set for 2 p.m. Jan. 21 at Aloha Stadium. The game moved back to Oahu this season after eight years on Maui.
Eaton, a 6-foot-2, 297-pound senior, has been a mainstay on the right side of the UH line for the past three seasons. He started nine games at right tackle in 2003 and split time between tackle (eight starts) and guard (five starts) last year. He's started all six games this season at right guard, bringing his streak of consecutive starts to 24.
In games Eaton has started in his career, the UH line has allowed 51 sacks in 1,426 pass attempts; or one every 28 passes.
Injury update: Cornerback Kenny Patton hasn't practiced this week with shoulder and quadriceps injuries, and his availability for tomorrow's game remains uncertain.
"We'll see how he is on game day," UH coach June Jones said.
Defensive end Melila Purcell continues to recover from a knee injury suffered two weeks ago and did not make the trip. His status will be evaluated again next week.
Running back Nate Ilaoa had a full week of practice after sitting out last week with turf toe. He split repetitions with David Farmer, who started against New Mexico State, and Mario Cox in yesterday's practice.