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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, August 9, 2000

U H _ F O O T B A L L

UH Football

Warriors’ Tafuna
is on a mission

The UH offensive lineman
is back and fit for duty

By Paul Arnett

Too often a two-year layoff from football isn't a friend of offensive linemen. Without a weight room and a regimented diet, many times they look more fit for a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade than in a football uniform.

Just don't count Sione Tafuna among them. The University of Hawaii offensive lineman recently returned from his two-year Mormon mission more fit for duty now than when he left after Hawaii's disappointing loss to Notre Dame.

A part of former head coach Bob Wagner's final recruiting class, Tafuna redshirted in 1995 before serving as a backup center to Shane Oliveira in 1996 and 1997. Former UH head coach Fred vonAppen talked Tafuna out of going on his mission his redshirt sophomore season. With Oliveira's well-documented foot injuries in 1996, vonAppen wasn't sure how effective Oliveira would be in his final season.

Tafuna left the program in 1998 and returns with two years of eligibility remaining. Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh is happy to have the 6-0, 275-pound player back on board.

"I want to tell you right now that he has worked his tail off to get into shape,'' Cavanaugh said yesterday. "I just can't wait to instruct him and see how good he can be in this offense. Right now, we have him backing up at center and guard, but we think center is where he'll be needed most.

"He's big and strong, changes directions very well, is very fluid, and is an aggressive kind of guy we need up front with leadership abilities. He's already played at this level and I believe will be a very good football player for us.''

Tafuna graduated in 1995 from Kalani High. Born in New Zealand, Tafuna started one game at center in 1996, and was a key component on special teams. He lettered in 1996 and 1997, and is the last player with any ties to the Wagner regime. Coming out of spring, the top center for UH was Brian Smith. Tafuna and Lui Fuata will compete for the job as well.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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