Homecoming for Gov linemen
Sapolu: 2006 team hard act to follow
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Jesse Sapolu knows how hard it is to maintain football excellence.
The former Hawaii star earned four Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers. Sapolu, a Farrington alumnus, was home in the islands last weekend and he talked about the Warriors' ascent to an 11-3 record last year and their potential to do even better this fall.
"They can't sneak up on anybody anymore," said Sapolu, who was a leader of the UH team that went 9-2 in 1981. "They have to be ready, because it can be exhausting when you become a target as a team."
With that being said, Sapolu added he thinks the Warriors have the talent to go unbeaten this fall.
Meanwhile, another former Governor and UH lineman is back in town after a successful audition with the Baltimore Ravens. Free agent defensive tackle Lawrence Wilson has been invited back for preseason camp and a shot at making the opening-day depth chart of the NFL's top defense.
"Their 3-4 defense is somewhat similar to what we did at UH," Wilson said. "But some of the techniques are different."
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Former Hawaii and San Francisco 49ers star center Jesse Sapolu was back home last week. He and former Niners cornerback Eric Wright -- who each have four Super Bowl rings -- competed in a cook-off at the Flavors of Honolulu event.
Sapolu, a key member of one of UH's best teams when the Rainbows went 9-2 in 1981, was asked what he thinks of the resurgence of Hawaii football.
"I think they've put themselves in position to be respected. They have to work doubly as hard because it's hard to get there, but it's harder to stay there," Sapolu said. "That's just from my experience of winning back-to-back Super Bowls. I was one game away from a three-peat and I was so physically and mentally worn out and emotionally drained."
Does Sapolu think the Warriors can go unbeaten this year?
"If UH can keep their winning ways and realize they have to raise their level because they're no longer sleepers, they can get it done," the two-time Pro Bowl selection said. "They've got the quarterback that had a great year. He can surpass what he did last year, but he has to really focus, because the defenses will really be coming after him."
Sapolu's daughter Lila plays volleyball at Chaminade. His eldest son, Luke, will be an offensive lineman at Central Oklahoma this fall, and London and Roman are football players at Southern California power Edison High School.
"I think Edison's coming here to play Kamehameha next year (2008)," Sapolu said. "So that'll be a good trip for me to come and watch my kids play at Aloha Stadium."
Sapolu remains active with directing 49ers alumni activities. He has also mentored former UH and current San Francisco defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga.
Wilson's got a shot
Another former Farrington and UH player, defensive tackle Lawrence Wilson
, has earned a chance to stick with the Baltimore Ravens. He returned last week from extended free-agent camp with an invitation to rejoin the Ravens at their preseason training camp July 29.
Wilson is competing with fourth-year player Dwan Edwards and fellow rookie free agent Andrew Powell for a roster spot. Last year's first-round draft pick, Haloti Ngata, starts at nose guard.
"They're working me at defensive tackle and nose guard," Wilson said. "They already had some cuts, so I'm thinking I have a good chance of at least making the practice squad."
The 6-foot, 296-pound Wilson was the strongest UH player last year, benching more than 500 pounds.
"Over there is different. It's not about lifting heavy stuff. They don't really care about how much you lift -- it's about what you can do (on the field)," Wilson said. " You have to learn fast and be ready at all times."
Especially with All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis captaining the NFL's stingiest defense.
"He's a really cool guy, down-to-earth," Wilson said. "Tries to help you out. But once you step on that field, he's a different dude."
Kicking and punting expert Mike McCabe
has been added to the instructors list for the Hawaii Football Clinic later this month. McCabe averaged 44.1 yards per punt in four years at Illinois State and is the founder of the One On One Kicking school.
McCabe joins the UH coaching staff at the clinics. Former Warriors players are also expected to instruct.
The clinics are July 21 and 22 for ages 5-12 and July 24-27 for ages 13-18. For Information call (808) 261-5000 or go to www.PacificAthleticAlliance.com.
Also, former Warrior and current Detroit Lion Ikaika Alama-Francis will be a guest instructor at the Hawaii Speed and Quickness clinics this weekend. The clinics are 8:30 to 10 a.m. tomorrow and Sunday at UH, with registration at 8.