Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, August 12, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Today was the first day of two-a-day football drills for
the University of Hawaii Rainbows and first-year coach
June Jones. For the half-dozen fifth-year seniors recruited
by former head coach Bob Wagner, the future looks
brighter than ever.

Future looks better
for fifth-year ’Bows

June Jones' arrival brings hope to
Bob Wagner's final recruiting class,
which seemed star-crossed; transfer
wideout Attrice Brooks still needs
academic clearance

By Paul Arnett


Perhaps they would have gone elsewhere had they possessed a sixth sense.

As it stands, the future isn't quite as unsettling as it once was for the half-dozen fifth-year Hawaii seniors who stepped on Cooke Field today in search of a brighter tomorrow.

The last recruiting class of former head coach Bob Wagner has suffered through four years of nine wins and 39 losses on the field and numerous problems away from it.

Safety Daniel Ho-Ching -- the only remaining Rainbow to take part in a road victory -- fought back from a bout with cancer that was diagnosed in 1995.

Punter Chad Shrout suffered the loss of his mother in 1996. Offensive lineman Andy Phillips survived a scare of an irregular heartbeat before last year's season opener. And defensive tackle Tony Tuioti spent more agonizing days than he cares to remember because of a bad back.

"We've been through a lot together," said Tuioti, who is a first team selection on several preseason All-Western Athletic Conference teams. "It's our job as seniors to lead by example, both on and off the field."

By comparison, the trials and tribulations of fellow fifth-year seniors Adrian Klemm and Kaulana Noa are minor, but both offensive tackles have shifted so often through the seasons, sometimes it's hard for them to remember their right from their left.

"We've gone through so much together," Klemm said of his compatriots. "We haven't won a lot of games, but I believe very strongly that's going to change now.

"I believe we have a good shot to compete for the WAC championship. I know that sounds funny coming from a team that's lost 18 in a row. But if we come together quickly in fall camp, we have a chance to be in every game on our schedule. I firmly believe that."

So do 50 newcomers, who joined an equal number of veterans this morning in the first session of two-a-days that will continue through Aug. 22.

Three newcomers were not on the field today. Wide receiver Attrice Brooks was not cleared to practice today due to academic reasons. Farrington alum Vince Manuwai was ruled academically ineligible for the entire season. Yet another newcomer, St. Louis grad Kanoa Noguchi, will join the team in January after clearing up some personal problems.

Still, optimism is in the air at practice.

"There's a feeling of hope around here that things are going to be different this season," said Ho-Ching. "We have to believe in ourselves as a unit and overcome any adversity on the field."

That has been a problem in the past for a team that has lost 18 in a row, including an 0-12 season in 1998. Instilling belief in themselves -- and in the system new head coach June Jones has put in place -- is tantamount to success.

"I haven't even talked about all the losing streaks or whatever," Jones said. "This is a new era. We aren't going to dwell on any of that because you can't change it. We have to focus on the future and how we can make this a winning program again."

For that to happen, the Rainbows must embrace Jones' run-and-shoot system and the NFL version of the 4-3 employed by renowned defensive coordinator Greg McMackin.

Throw in the work of special teams coach Dennis McKnight and the fact that Hawaii only has 27 practices before its season opener with Southern California and anyone can see this 1999 team has a lot to learn and not much time to get it done.

"Defensively, we made good progress this spring," McMackin said. "The goal we have now is to get the new guys up to speed as quickly as possible, so we can be all on the same page by September.

"Being ready for our opener would be challenging no matter who we played. The fact it's a traditional power like USC means we have to focus that much more to get to where we need to be as a defensive unit."

It appears McMackin has a solid group in place. Tuioti anchors the defensive line. Linebackers Jeff Ulbrich, Matt Paul and Anthony Smith may be the strength of the group. The secondary is still a question mark, but look for incoming safety Dedrick Miller to have an immediate impact.

"We're expecting a lot from our newcomers," Jones said. "You'll definitely see some new faces in our opener with USC."

Two-a-days last through August 21. There will be two practices at Aloha Stadium on Aug. 18 and Aug. 22. Jones will begin the regular 7:30 a.m. practice sessions on Aug. 24.

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