Gaison ready to spoil TCU's party


POSTED: Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kepa Gaison takes a lot of pride in Utah's undefeated run to a BCS bowl game last season.

It's an accomplishment he has no intention of sharing.

The 16th-ranked Utes will take their shot at knocking off No. 4 TCU on Saturday with much more than just first place in the Mountain West Conference on the line.

The Horned Frogs have put themselves in position to contend for a possible national championship, but must beat a Utah team that was in the exact same position a year ago.

“;This year it's totally a role reversal,”; said Gaison, a 2005 Kamehameha graduate. “;I think since we lost a game a lot of people are downplaying us, but our team can play with anybody. We've been in this position before.”;

; The numbers favor Utah, which is 7-0 all-time in games when both teams are ranked. The Utes have won 13 straight conference games and 22 of the last 23 overall. Their only loss in that span came by a touchdown against Oregon this season.

“;I think that was definitely a wake-up call for us because we hadn't lost in a long time,”; Gaison said. “;We had a chance to win that game but didn't capitalize on opportunities, and it's something we learned from.”;

The Utes have seven players who graduated from Hawaii high schools on their roster, including Gaison and junior defensive end Nai Fotu (Kahuku '07), who have both played in every game this season.

Gaison, who originally walked on at Utah as a punter, earned a scholarship in 2007 and is now a starting linebacker. He's tied for sixth on the team with 33 tackles and tied for fourth with 1 1/2 sacks.

“;It was always in the back of my mind that I might have to consider switching (to defense),”; Gaison said. “;But my reason for getting on the team was being a punter and that's what I was recruited as.”;

Fotu, who was recruited as a defensive end, switched to linebacker last season before moving back to his original spot this year.

“;The linebacker spot I played was almost like a defensive end because I was on the outside and we blitz a lot,”; Fotu said. “;It don't really matter to me. All I care about is getting in there and helping my team in whatever way I can.”;

Fotu's switch to defensive end was made possible by Gaison's emergence at linebacker. Gaison set himself up for a starting spot his senior year after a breakout game in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama in which he had six tackles and two sacks.

“;We're using that as motivation this week,”; Gaison said. “;The role reversal is a total motivator for us because our goal is to get (to a BCS game) too.”;

While both are focused on leading Utah to another MWC title, they each will have their eye on the upcoming HHSAA Division I state football tournament. Gaison's Warriors and Fotu's Red Raiders are the top two seeded teams and look to be on a collision course to meet for a state championship.

The two schools have never met in the state tournament. Fotu said he only played against Kamehameha once in high school, in a scrimmage.

“;We beat them, but Kamehameha wasn't that good that year,”; Fotu said.

Gaison warns that this year will be different.

“;They don't want any part of Kamehameha,”; Gaison said. “;Me and Nai got the rivalry thing going on for sure. If they play for the title, we'll be going at it.



UCLA's Hasiak leaves team

UCLA freshman offensive lineman Stan Hasiak (Kapolei '09) has temporarily left the team, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Hasiak, who was one of the top high school recruits in Hawaii last season, flew home over the weekend and missed the team's 24-23 win over Washington on Saturday.

Hasiak, who hasn't played much since the first two weeks of the season, has been involved in “;a handful of near fights with teammates during live scrimmages,”; according to the report.

UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was quoted in the story saying Hasiak was “;dealing with issues.”;

Hasiak is one of four offensive lineman at UCLA from Hawaii, along with Kai Maiava (Baldwin '07), Eddie Williams (Damien '06) and Micah Kia (Mililani '06).



» Idaho junior linebacker Jojo Dickson (Baldwin '07) had a game-high 12 tackles and sophomore Robert Siavii (Leilehua '08) added seven in a 31-21 loss to Fresno State on Saturday. Sophomore running back Kama Bailey (Damien '08) carried once for 15 yards.
» Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (Saint Louis '06) finished 21-for-37 for 334 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 55 yards and another touchdown in a 52-41 loss to Stanford on Saturday. Cardinal defensive tackle Matt Masifilo (Campbell '07) was in on a tackle.
» Notre Dame freshman Manti Te'o (Punahou '09) had five tackles in a 23-21 loss to Navy on Saturday.
» Colorado junior linebacker Michael Sipili (Damien '06) had six tackles and B.J. Beatty (Kahuku '06) had three tackles, was in on a sack, and had two quarterback hurries in a 35-34 win over Texas A&M on Saturday.
» Oregon State defensive back Brandon Hardin (Kamehameha '07) had six tackles and linebacker David Pa'aluhi (Waianae '07) had four tackles and a pass breakup in a 31-14 win over California on Saturday. Freshman Kevin Unga (Kahuku '06) added three tackles and safety Suaesi Tuimaunei (Kahuku '06) added two tackles, while California's Tyson Alualu (Saint Louis '05) had a game-high nine tackles.

» Linfield (Ore.) sophomore libero Samantha Lau (St. Francis '08) was named first-team, All-Northwest Conference this week after finishing the season leading the NWC in digs at 5.47 per set.
» Cal State Fullerton senior outside hitter Deven Bukoski (Kamehameha '06) had 18 digs, five kills and an ace in a five-set victory over Pacific (Calif.) on Saturday. Tigers freshman Pihanakealoha Kea (Punahou '09) had 44 assists, Dancyne Kama (Kamehameha-Hawaii '06) had a team-high 30 digs and sophomore Rebekah Torres (Kamehameha '08) had eight digs, six kills and two aces.
» Western Alabama senior Chanelle Esteban (Kaiser '06) had a match-high 20 digs and an ace in a four-set victory over Valdosta State on Saturday.
» St. John's freshman Ashley Asing (Moanalua '09) had a match-high 23 digs in a five-set loss to Rutgers on Sunday.
» George Mason freshman Koala Matsuoka (Kamehameha '09) was named the Colonial Athletic Association rookie of the week on Monday. Matsuoka had a career-high 29 digs in a four-set victory over William & Mary.
» Washington senior libero Tamari Miyashiro (Kalani '05) had 17 digs and an ace in a five-set loss to California on Saturday.
» Nevada junior Kylie Harrington (St. Francis '07) had a match-high 14 kills and seven digs in a three-game sweep of San Jose State on Saturday. Spartans freshman Caitlin Andrade (Kamehameha '09) had 29 assists and eight digs, Alex Akana (Kamehameha '09) had six kills and four blocks and Kristal Tsukano (Kamehameha '06) had 10 digs and four assists.
» Cal Poly freshman Anuhea Keanini (Punahou '09) had 54 assists and Chelsea Hardin ('Iolani '09) had 10 kills in a four-set victory over Long Beach State on Saturday.