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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, October 27, 2000

U H _ F O O T B A L L

UH Football

It’s the Silicon
Valley Bowl or bust
for San Jose State

Hawaii faces a Spartan team
poised for the postseason, but hurt
by the loss of a teammate


By Paul Arnett

This is one of those nights that leaves you feeling a little off.

San Jose State arrived in town yesterday evening to prepare for perhaps the most meaningful game in recent history. Once a powerful program in the hey days of the dead Big West Conference, San Jose State has struggled since joining the WAC in 1996.

Entering this season, head coach Dave Baldwin was in uneasy waters. If the program is to have a long lifespan at the Division I level, then the Spartans need to become a must-see team in the Bay Area. What better way than to finish near the top of the league standings this season and be a part of the first Silicon Valley Bowl that will be played right in your own back yard.

San Jose State can almost see it from here, but undoubtedly needs to beat the University of Hawaii tomorrow night at Aloha Stadium for it to come into view. The problem is, real life dropped by to pay an unexpected visit last weekend, leaving the Spartans adrift in the Pacific.

"I'm sure there's going to be a lot of emotion in their locker room," UH head coach June Jones said. "It's only natural for you to want to play hard for a fallen teammate. We expect to see them play their best game Saturday night."

Baldwin doesn't really want to go there. Last Monday, special teams player Neil Parry had part of his right leg amputated at the ankle as a result of an injury he suffered in an Oct. 14 game at Texas-El Paso. The compound fracture severed an artery that produced complications later in the week. The operation had to be done to save Parry's life.

More surgery was performed Wednesday and another procedure was scheduled for today. Baldwin called the developments positive. But he's well aware the unexpected operation put this football season into perspective.

And while tomorrow evening's locker won't produce a "Let's win one for the Gipper" speech by Baldwin, you can rest assured a moment of silence will be words enough. Neil Parry's brother, Josh, who leads the team in tackles, is expected to play.

The middle linebacker didn't travel with the team last Saturday at Nevada. He arrived that evening, produced a career-high 17 tackles, then told his jubilant teammates after the victory over the Wolf Pack that his brother was going to lose his foot.

"It was one of the most emotional moments I've seen," Baldwin said. "We were all in shock and still are. You don't really want to talk about playing a game."

But with kickoff only 24 hours away, Baldwin will have to with his coaches as they try to keep the ship moving in one of the more positive directions in school history. At 5-3 overall, including a win over Stanford University for a third consecutive season, the Spartans' 3-1 mark in conference is equally important.

If they win or share the title, then it's likely the WAC will keep the Spartans at home to host the inaugural bowl game that will be broadcast nationally on Fox. Their chief rivals are Fresno State and Texas-El Paso. Texas Christian's chances of winding up in the Silicon Bowl regardless of record or position in the standings, is nil.

"We set this up where a team in the West will go to the Silicon Valley Classic," said WAC commissioner Karl Benson. "It may come down to who wins between Fresno State and San Jose State next month."

But for that to be a reality, San Jose State needs a win tomorrow night against a team the Spartans have knocked off three out of the past four times they met.

Deonce Whitaker is one of the most exciting running backs in America. And when he's out resting, here comes Jarmar Julien, a bruising back who believes the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

"You kind of have to choose your poison between these two," Jones said. "Fortunately, they run a one-back offense, so they both aren't on the field at the same time."

The Spartans' weakness is a defense that can't stop anybody. It's true San Jose State has played a difficult schedule -- Nebraska, Southern California and UTEP -- just to name a few. But one thing San Jose State has struggled with of late is on defense. Had they found one, the Spartans would have been conference contenders.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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