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StarBulletin.com

Goeas helped tame Cougars


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POSTED: Saturday, July 04, 2009

The official attendance is listed at 50,000, but hundreds—perhaps thousands—more will say they were there. At Aloha Stadium on that picture-postcard perfect night of Oct. 28, 1989.

It's one of those milestone moments in Hawaii sports history, akin to Chaminade's basketball upset of then-No. 1 Virginia in 1982. The generous turnstile count from the box score says 3,500 ... yet, if all those who claim to have been there were to be added in, it would likely double the actual seating capacity of Blaisdell Arena (7,700).

It will be 20 years this October since Brigham Young came to town, swaggering into Aloha Stadium with a No. 17 ranking and a 10-game winning streak against Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors had come agonizingly close—losing 16-14 in 1987, 24-23 the next year—but still had been outscored 249-122 by the Cougars since 1978.

Perhaps no one carried the burden of “;The Streak”; more than senior offensive lineman Leo Goeas. It had become very personal, very much a family thing.

He was the baby, the last of three Goeas brothers to wear the Hawaii uniform, and neither Larry (1979-82) nor John (1983-85) had ever beaten the Cougars. Leo was 0-3 coming into that game Oct. 28. It was his last chance.

There was something special about that night, the air was different, electric. From the moment Hawaii went into its first offensive set. The three-receiver “;S”; formation stood for “;Snake,”; but it could just have easily stood for “;Smash”; or “;Stun”; or even “;Smile.”;

It was all of the above, and Leo Goeas will never forget bear-hugging his father, Larry Sr., on the sidelines, or carrying the UH flag around the field following the 56-14 blowout of the Cougars.

“;No question, that's the game I'll always remember,”; said Goeas, now a sports agent in Colorado Springs, Colo. “;My older brothers had gotten close (to winning), but for the most part, BYU dominated.

“;(Offensive coordinator) Paul Johnson had the perfect game plan. BYU could not stop that offense. It was such an exciting game, breaking that losing streak, and it was really special to have my father on the field.”;

With three older brothers and a football-loving father, there was never a choice which sport was in Leo Goeas' future. There were, however, options as to where he would play following his graduation from Kamehameha.

Under heavy consideration were Washington, California, San Diego State and BYU. His decision came down to one conversation with his father, who has since died.

“;I had grown up going to UH games, to Dick Tomey's camps,”; Goeas said. “;During my senior year, I was getting letters and phone calls to go abroad.

“;My dad asked me, 'Where do you see yourself living after your career?' He knew that local people never forget you if you play for Hawaii. I knew I'd have the family support at home games, and I wanted him to be able to see me play. I called the other schools and canceled my visits.”;

Tomey says the last Goeas he recruited was the best.

“;Obviously, we had nobody who wanted to play and contribute more than Larry,”; said Tomey, UH's coach from 1977 to '86. “;And John was a great young man as well. The family deserves all the credit for raising great young men.

“;But Leo ... we knew very quickly he was going to be good. He was so physically gifted and parlayed his physicality into success.”;

There are several versions as to how Goeas was converted from tight end to interior line. As Tomey tells it, “;We told him he could be a tight end and hardly ever eat, or he could eat. Obviously, he chose to eat. We knew he was going to get big (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) and have the athleticism to go on to the next level.”;

Goeas remembers playing tight end for the first few days of preseason camp, but when the offensive line was thinned out by injuries, he was thrown in at guard against the first-team defense in what he calls a “;gut-check drill.”;

“;I did very well, and Coach Tomey stops practice, calls everyone in and names me the starting guard,”; Goeas said. “;That was the end of the tight end career.

“;I was ticked off, but four years later, it totally paid off. Life is like that. You never know why things happen, but I believe you take advantage of every opportunity you are given.”;

It's the message he delivered at UH's skills camps last month.

“;I told them I had such pride playing in my home state, in front of my family,”; he said. “;It was a great time in my life and it catapulted me into the NFL.”;

He was drafted in the third round by the Chargers and played 111 NFL games at left tackle and guard in eight seasons with San Diego, the Los Angeles-St. Louis Rams and Baltimore Ravens.

After retiring in 1998, Goeas began training and mentoring players, going on to work for Dormann & Pittman in Colorado Springs. He is one of five agents in the company and currently represents 12 clients, including former Warrior Samson Satele, now with the Oakland Raiders, and Cincinnati defensive tackle Domata Peko, who played for Michigan State after choosing the Spartans over UH.

That most of his clients are linemen and of Polynesian descent is no accident.

“;That's my niche,”; Goeas said. “;It's a natural fit for me. I understand the profile of that position, know what teams are looking for, bring more to the table.

“;I am a man of faith, and if there ever was a business where you need faith, it's this one.”;

Goeas married his high school sweetheart Kathy Paresa (Sacred Hearts '85) while at UH. The two have five children: Matthew, 22, who plays football for Mesa State (Colo.); Alixandra, 18; Colton, 15; Rebecca, 11; and Elijah, 7.

The family spent the past two months in Hawaii and “;we're heavily considering moving back,”; Goeas said. “;We've been away since 1990, and the desire to come back is very strong.”;

Colton, an incoming high school freshman, is 6-1, 200 pounds and “;he wants to play defense, maybe defensive end or linebacker,”; Goeas said. “;He's a guy who should go on to Division I, probably be around 6-3, 6-4.

“;But Elijah will probably be the biggest of the boys and he's just getting into sports.”;

Will there be another Goeas boy wearing a UH uniform? Another Goeas father standing on the Aloha Stadium sideline?

For Leo, that would be as close to perfect as that picture-postcard perfect night of Oct. 28, 1989.

 

Star-Bulletin sportswriter Cindy Luis and her husband took their 3-year-old son to his first UH football game in 1989, watching from the top-most row as the Rainbow Warriors beat BYU. Tomorrow we unveil No. 26.