Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, October 24, 1996

Morgan will be
player of the week

YOU heard it here first: Air Force quarterback Beau Morgan will be the WAC offensive player of the week in the Pacific Division after Saturday's game with Hawaii.

Now, that's not a wild-and-crazy pick out of the wide blue yonder. Rather, it's the football lock of the week. No, not Air Force giving Hawaii 31 points. I wouldn't bet against the Rainbows on that one even though they've been dreadful on the road this season.

The 'Bows might be competitive for a change, but there's no way they are going to stop Morgan.

Consider that last week Morgan ran for 183 yards in the 20-17 upset of Notre Dame, a team with more skilled defensive players than Hawaii. "Notre Dame couldn't stop them," says UH coach Fred vonAppen, "and we're not as good as Notre Dame."

And, if you haven't forgotten, Morgan rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns against the Rainbows last year.

VonAppen doesn't see Air Force getting overconfident or letting down following its huge victory over Notre Dame. (Neither did Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry, by the way.)

In most instances, coaches would be happy to play a team coming off one of its biggest victories in school history as Air Force is. But not vonAppen.

"Obviously, we're not the kind of team that can be very cavalier about much of anything," he said. "The Air Force has got special kinds of youngsters. They're disciplined, committed guys and not preoccupied with the National Football League."

If nothing else, Air Force gave the WAC perhaps its biggest boost of the season by beating Notre Dame. The Falcons' victory came on the heels of the demise of the Haka Bowl in New Zealand, which would have assured the conference of another bowl game.

The pickings are already slim for the 16-team WAC, which is not a major player in the bowl alliance. But, by knocking off Notre Dame, one of the major players, the Flyboys have made bowl implications more interesting for the WAC, which now has three teams in the Associated Press Top 25 with San Diego State and Air Force trying to put a move on as well.

MEANWHILE, the WAC, noted for being a passing conference, saw an added offensive dimension last week. The WAC's still is pass-happy with four quarterbacks - BYU's Steve Sarkisian, San Diego State's Billy Blanton, Wyoming's Josh Wallwork and Utah's Mike Fouts - among the top 10 in the nation in passing efficiency.

But four running backs made headlines with their rushing performances. Morgan, as we mentioned, ran for 183 yards against the Fighting Irish.

Also, Utah's Chris Fuamatu-Maafala, the former St. Louis strongboy, rushed for 182 yards and two long touchdowns, Rice quarterback Chad Nelson gained 197 yards and San Diego State's George Jones ended a four-game suspension by running for 187 yards and five touchdowns.

And don't forget Hawaii's own Russell Grant, who picked up 144 yards on just 14 carries against Nevada-Las Vegas.

AFTER the prep names column last week in which I mentioned all-time namer Avalanche Bento, I had to find out where he is now. Well, the former Roosevelt High star is playing defensive end and playing well for Allan Hancock Community College in Santa Maria, Calif.

"He's a good pass rusher and plays a lot in the rotation," said his coach, Barney Eames, who is in his 33rd year with the Bulldogs.

Bento says the team prayer, according to Eames, who coached the player's uncle, Ian Meyers, in 1975. Not surprisingly, Eames said he found Avalanche's name interesting.

And my apologies to Kalani cousins - quarterback Kapono Kamakawiwo'ole and wide receiver Kekai Kamakawiwo'ole - for saying they're not related to musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. They're second cousins.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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