NCAA D-III FOOTBALL
Hawaii players in D-III playoffs
Two of the 10 undefeated teams in the NCAA Division III football playoffs have a Hawaii connection, with 11 players and two coaches involved.
The Occidental Tigers (9-0) are in McMinnville, Ore., today to play the defending champion Linfield Wildcats (8-0) in a first-round game.
The matchup figures to be a shootout. Linfield averages 49.3 points a game, while Occidental scores at a 41.3 ppg clip.
Derek Turbin, a senior defensive back from Punahou, and Ric Fukushima, a senior wide receiver from Moanalua, have played important roles in the Tigers' march to a second consecutive playoff berth.
Turbin has had a versatile four-year career. He played safety as a freshman. In ensuing seasons he moved to outside linebacker, then cornerback and back to safety this year.
"Derek is just a good, heady football player, kind of a throwback to an old-school football player," said Occidental head coach Dale Widolff. "He is deceiving fast and covers a lot of ground."
Turbin is Occidental's third-leading tackler with 31 solo and 20 assisted. He has made three tackles for lost yardage and is credited with half a sack. The 6-foot-4 215-pounder also has broken up five passes.
Turbin, who also is a triple-jumper for the track team, is majoring in American studies.
Fukushima has missed the last three games with an injury to his left knee, but Widolff expects him to play. Fukushima flops from side to side in the Tigers' four-receiver set.
"Ric has great body control and hands. Being a quarterback in high school helps Ric understand defenses and what our quarterback sees," said Widolff.
Fukushima still is the second-leading receiver for the Tigers, with 39 catches for 563 yards, a 14.4 average per reception. The 5-9 170-pounder took four of those catches to the end zone. He's majoring in physics.
Punahou graduate John Morris, listed as a sophomore quarterback to start the season, decided not to play this year. Widolff isn't sure of his future football plans.
There are nine Hawaii players on the Linfield roster, led by the two starters -- Kamehameha graduates Brandon Tom, a 6-2, 230-pound senior defensive end, and Nik Soo, a 6-0, 245-pound junior defensive end.
Tom has 12 solo and 10 assisted tackles, nine of which resulted in a loss (30 yards) and four sacks for 19 yards. He also intercepted one pass.
Soo has six tackles for a loss and one sack among his 12 solo and five assisted stops.
Josh Vierra (Kamehameha), a 5-10, 170-pound sophomore wide receiver, sees spot duty in the Wildcats' four-receiver offense. He has 10 receptions for 100 yards and two TDs, has carried twice for 9 yards and returned five punts for 48 yards and two kickoffs for 74 yards.
Ian Estrada, a 5-11, 270-pound freshman defensive tackle from Kamehameha, has played in five games with one solo and one assisted tackle.
Keone Tawata, a 5-11, 190-pound sophomore rover from Radford, has seven solo and three assisted tackles in four games. He also returned a punt for 14 yards.
Jared Prestidge (Castle), a 6-1, 210-pound junior safety, has one tackle in two games.
Sophomore Stan Fisher (Punahou), a 6-3, 205-pound punter, and Kevin Kauweloa, a 6-0, 230-pound sophomore linebacker from Waianae, each have played in one game. Fisher punted once for 39 yards.
Brad Lau (Hawaii Prep), a 5-9, 175-pound sophomore wide receiver, has not played.
Linfield has two assistants from Hawaii -- offensive line coaches Doug Hire (Pearl City '83) in his sixth season and Daryl Agpalsa (Kamehameha '98) in his third season.
Another coach involved in the playoffs is Mosi Tatupu. The former Punahou, USC and New England Patriots running back is an assistant at Curry College in Milton, Mass. He is in charge of the running backs and special teams for the 9-2 Colonials.
On the NCAA Division II level, senior kicker Ha'a Bento has been named to the All-Lone Star Conference North Division second team.
Bento, a Saint Louis graduate, led the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions in scoring with 44 points . He made eight of 14 field-goal attempts and converted 21 of 22 point-after-touchdown tries.