Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, August 28, 1997

’Bows know it’s time
to walk the walk

GO, 'Bows. Gopher it.

It's time to stop talking. It's time to start playing some football. As Shakespeare said, "The play's the thing."

The University of Hawaii's opening act of the year will be against the Minnesota Gophers Saturday afternoon at Aloha Stadium.

Still, there are last-minute worries. An opener is always iffy. You don't know if it'll be a hit or a miss until it plays out.

That's why Rainbows coach Fred vonAppen believes that the Big Ten Gophers are beatable.

No, vonAppen wasn't blowing smoke or smoking anything funny. All he meant was that anything can happen in the first game of the season.

"Openers are always unpredictable," vonAppen said. "Even if you think you have a reasonable book on whoever you're playing -- in this particular case we don't have a book on them and I don't think they have a book on us -- openers are always suspect in terms of preparation.

"You are always going to see something you really didn't spend a lot of time in preparation for. There's always the nervous jitters of the first ballgame, and emotional hype which generally leads to sometimes not very efficient play. These games, you don't really win them, you lose them.

"I hesitate to use the term, but it's a roll of the dice," vonAppen said, referring to season openers not any Chinatown contretemps.

STILL, vonAppen feels a lot better going into the Minnesota opener than he did last year against Boston College in his head-coaching debut.

"You're always anxious in your opener for a variety of reasons. But this is a different kind of anxiety this year because last year I didn't have any idea how our kids would respond to the crucible of competition.

"We've been through a year now and I have a pretty good idea how they'll respond. This team's different, the chemistry will be different. But we have a pretty good idea how the incumbent players will respond. It's the new players we don't know, but we suspect they'll respond well."

Two newcomers vonAppen won't have to worry about are quarterback Tim Carey and tailback Quincy Jacobs, who are trying to make Hawaii the Stanford of the West.

As for talking the talk, senior Eddie Klaneski says it's now time to walk the walk.

"We've been talking about how we're going to do this and do that. Now we really got to show what we got," said Klaneski, a first-team All-WAC defensive back. "Saturday, we've got to come out and play."

"We have the players, we have the coaches. We just have to do it," added wide receiver Johnny Macon, another fifth-year senior who has yet to be on a winning Rainbow team.

The 'Bows this year are bigger, stronger and more athletic -- comparatively speaking, mind you, and not necessarily by Big Ten standards. But the best thing they've got going for them this season is senior leadership.

WITH 34 seniors on the team, maturity will come in handy during crunch time. And a lot of crunch times are in store.

"I think we'll be better because we got a lot more experience and more senior leadership," Klaneski said. And he plans on backing up his words by example.

Ditto for Macon.

"This season is different because you know it's your last. So it's special. But I want to go out and do the best I can, to try and turn it around and let the younger guys have something to build on," he said.

For Macon, a rainbow would be an apt symbol to describe his career curve. He started out throwing the football and now he will be on the receiving end of it. Macon's hoping there's a pot of gold at this end.

Rainbow fans hope so, too.

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

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