Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, September 10, 1999

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

game may be
’Bows’ biggest

Hawaii needs a win tomorrow
night to move the program back
in the right direction

By Paul Arnett


OK, so nobody outside of Honolulu and Charleston, Ill., cares a second about this game.

"Dateline NBC" isn't sending a camera crew. Mike Wallace isn't looking for a "60 Minutes" ambush. And as bad as this 19-game losing streak is for Hawaii, it's nothing to write to Guinness about. The all-time collegiate record is a distant five years into the future.

But if you're a member of this Rainbow football team, if your life is spent toiling away unnoticed in the back rooms of the athletic department, if you're June Jones, this game could add or detract years from the very program all of these people are desperately trying to save.

Sound overstated? Well, perhaps there is a word or two of hyperbole tucked away in certain sentences, but the sentiment is sound. Tomorrow night's nonconference game with Eastern Illinois should be a prelude of things to come in the Jones regime.


Bullet When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday
Bullet Where: Aloha Stadium
Bullet TV: 9 p.m. on KFVE
Bullet Radio: Live on KCCN (1420-AM)
Bullet RealAudio:
Bullet Records: Both teams are 0-1
Bullet History: First meeting.
Bullet Coaches: Hawaii's June Jones (0-1, first year). Eastern Illinois' Bob Spoo (74-62-1, 13th year)
Bullet Tickets: $3 UH students $9-11 students and seniors $14-16 endzone; $16-18 sideline Call 484-1122 or 1-800-291-3999
Bullet Spread: No national line

The Rainbows should take Aloha Stadium by storm and roll out to a 24-7 halftime lead en route to a 31-point victory. But will they? Or will the fear of losing a game Hawaii knows it should win paralyze the Rainbows and keep them from performing at their optimum?

After last week's 62-7 shellacking by Southern California, no one knows for sure. And that's just what the Division I-AA Panthers need to make a game of it.

Yes, they only have 63 scholarships to Hawaii's 85. And yes, they only had 36 hours to look at the UH tape of Saturday's loss to USC before boarding a plane in Chicago, bound for the 50th state.

"But what we do have is the belief that if we play our best and don't make mistakes, we have a chance to win,'' Eastern Illinois quarterback Anthony Buich said minutes after Eastern Illinois landed at Honolulu Airport early Wednesday afternoon.


'When you've lost 19 games
in a row, they're all tough. We have to
prove it to ourselves that
we can win.'

June Jones



'This is a big test for our program.
We don't want to be the team that
ends their streak. We also play three
Division I teams this year.
And that's fun for us.'

Anthony Buich



"This is a big test for our program,'' said Buich, who was 11 of 26 for 122 yards in Eastern Illinois' season-opening loss to Central Michigan. "We don't want to be the team that ends their streak. We also play three Division I teams this year. And that's fun for us.''

It should be fun for the Rainbows as well. In years past, Hawaii has rolled up Division I-AA opponents and smoked them like a John Wayne cigarette in any one of his million westerns. One of Hawaii's five wins the past three seasons was at the expense of Cal State Northridge.

"But that doesn't mean we can take them for granted,'' said Jones, who was pleased with the Rainbows' effort this week in practice. "When you've lost 19 games in a row, they're all tough. We have to prove it to ourselves that we can win.''

The Rainbows haven't won since beating Fresno State on Oct. 11, 1997. That's 23 months of frustration only a player on the team can understand. Many of those who took part in the early games of this streak have since graduated. But that doesn't mean their hearts aren't there.

Two weeks ago, Hammerheads quarterback Tim Carey watched a morning workout. Former safety Eddie Klaneski has stopped by a time or two, as has former wide receiver Eleu Kane.

"We're trying to win for all those guys,'' Robinson said. "And they're pulling for us.''

Jones hopes Robinson pulls out of the funk he found himself in last weekend against USC. The senior signal-caller hit only 16 of 39 for 149 yards. He was sacked four times, had a fumble returned for a touchdown and threw an interception.

The Eastern Illinois defense shouldn't prove as formidable. It should allow Robinson to work on the ins and outs of the run and shoot. And also give the receivers another week of learning a read-oriented offense.

"We don't really know what to expect,'' Eastern Illinois head coach Bob Spoo said. "We didn't get the film until Monday night. So, we didn't have a lot of time to spend on it.

"You have to figure they're going to throw the ball all over the place. And that will be a challenge for us. We know they are in need of a win. But so are we. It should be a good game.''

The only way it will be good for Jones is if it ends in victory. Anything less than that, and this season could go south in a hurry. As one player put it after Wednesday's practice, "This is a must for us.''

Jones couldn't have put it any better.
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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