Warriors’ scouts get chance to let loose
Prior to the Hawaii football team's annual Scout Bowl yesterday, UH quarterback Inoke Funaki hadn't taken a lot of full-speed hits since leading Kahuku High School to the state championship in 2001.
The Warriors' defensive scouts made sure to remind him of the feeling.
"It's been a long time since I actually played like that," Funaki said. "It was fun -- you have to get used to it again with the rush."
Funaki absorbed a few hard hits as UH's scout-team members enjoyed one of their few opportunities to suit up and tackle in a full-contact situation.
The scouts spend most of the season running the offensive and defensive schemes of UH's opponents to help the starters prepare for the upcoming game. But UH coach June Jones usually sets aside a bye-week practice to let the reserves cut loose.
"We look forward to it every year. It's a fun day and the players enjoy it," Jones said.
The defense dominated early, but the offense ended up winning the 35-play scrimmage 53-46, thanks in large part to two long touchdown passes.
Funaki, who spent two years on a church mission after high school and is redshirting this season, played the first half of the scrimmage and spent most of his day on the run.
On two of the occasions he did have time to survey the field, he hit Brandon Matano across the middle for a 16-yard completion and found David Kaihenui for a 30-yarder down the left side.
"I was on the scout team the whole season, so I was running all the other teams' plays," Funaki said. "So it's weird to go back and start running our plays, we were always running option (on the scout team). But it was cool."
Senior quarterback Jeff Rhode and freshman receiver Antwan Mahaley connected on a pass down the right sideline for the first touchdown of the morning. Freshman Michael Washington put the offense ahead for good with a diving catch in the end zone on a deep throw over the middle from Kainoa Akina.
"I kind of lost the ball in the air a little bit, but I adjusted my body and made a play on the ball," Washington said. "It's a fun day. Everybody was looking forward to Scout Bowl. We get the day over with and now we can celebrate a little."
Most of the time, it looked like the Warrior starters were having the most fun as they cheered for their teammates and did some coaching on the sidelines. Almost the entire offensive unit poured onto the field to celebrate the TD passes, while the defensive starters relished big hits.
"The older boys have been in it before, so they were getting all hyped up for it," Funaki said. "They just wanted all the other guys to get in some plays."
Although the game is a fun reward for the scouts, it can also serve as an audition for those looking for some playing time in the future.
"We always look at the tape and certainly the guys who have been paying attention will do things correctly on the plays and we'll look at that," Jones said.
Looking ahead: The Warriors (4-6) will have the weekend off and return to practice Monday morning to prepare for next Friday's game against Wisconsin of the Big Ten. UH faces the Badgers at 4:05 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.
"We got our initial game plan in for Wisconsin; now we'll get an extra day of practice and get ready," Jones said.
Defensive end Melila Purcell didn't suit up yesterday as he recovers from a sprained elbow suffered in last week's win over Utah State. Center Derek Fa'avi (shoulder) was able to practice.