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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, February 7, 2001

P R E P _ S P O R T S


Time to sign on
the dotted line

Unlike last season, some top
prep recruits are choosing to
play football outside of Hawaii

Maiava picks Wisconsin

By Paul Arnett

Schools not expected to make any sudden impacts in local recruiting landed the top two prospects in the state.

This morning, Kahuku High's Chris Kemoeatu and Aaron Francisco will sign letters of intent with Utah and Brigham Young University, respectively.

They are just two of as many as 16 local high school seniors and junior college transfers expected to join Division I football programs in the fall.

Unfortunately for the University of Hawaii, the Warriors didn't come close to a clean sweep this time around. Last year, Hawaii was a perfect 10-for-10.

If the verbal commitments fall into place, UH head coach June Jones will welcome five of these 16 to the Manoa campus. Washington and Utah are expected to land three each, with BYU coming in with two.

"Every year, there's going to be competition with mainland schools," Jones said at the end of last season. "We'd like to keep at home as many of the local players as we can. That will always be our goal."

Losing players to programs in the Pac-10 or the Big 12 is not unexpected, but Mountain West Conference schools still have a presence in the state.

Hawaii inadvertently helped a BYU or Nevada-Las Vegas by scheduling those schools in football. It's one thing for a local recruit to leave the islands with no hope of playing in Aloha Stadium. Quite another, if the coach can say that the potential recruit will be in Aloha Stadium before his career is through.

"We still feel like we can recruit here," Utah head coach Ron McBride said during his week-long stay on Maui for the Hula Bowl. "We have shown that there is a strong Polynesian community in the Salt Lake area where these kids can feel at home."

It was believed the Utes might find the going more difficult after McBride asked offensive coordinator Tommy Lee to take an assistant's position. Lee resigned instead, effectively cutting off Utah from St. Louis School players.

Four Crusader players are expected to sign national letters of intent this morning. Two of those -- Ikaika Curnan and Pesefea Fiaseu -- will be Warriors. The other two -- Joe Lobendahn and Lyle Maiava -- verbally committed to Washington and Oregon, respectively.

However, Maiva may have changed his mind. On Monday, St. Louis coach Cal Lee said Maiava was thinking about signing with Wisconsin.

It didn't deter McBride, who landed two Kahuku recruits and one from Roosevelt High to keep Utah's island pipeline flowing.

Former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards, who also took part in the Hula Bowl on Maui, expects the Cougars to maintain a presence here as well.

Stealing away Francisco, who by most accounts was leaning toward Hawaii, harkens back to the old days when many North Shore players opted for BYU's mission statement.

"My wife and I are thinking of serving a mission in Hawaii in the next two years," Edwards said. "The Mormon community is so strong here. I think BYU will be able to effectively recruit the islands because of that fact."

Not having as many local recruits to turn to forced Hawaii to improvise a bit. It could have as many as seven junior college players signing letters of intent. Two are already enrolled and will take part in spring football that will begin on March 1.

Hawaii also had five scholarships already committed to players, who they either signed last year as part of this recruiting class or transferred in over the summer.

Jones said yesterday he thought this current group, which includes junior college All-America linebacker Isaak Sopoaga, will fulfill the needs of the program.

Hawaii expects to receive a majority of the letters of intent today, but won't make any further comment until tomorrow.

Last year, Jones called the recruiting class of 2000, "The best in school history." His third recruiting class needs to be better still to offset the final two years of former head coach Fred vonAppen's ill-fated regime.

Not many of those players are left -- Jones let go nearly two dozen himself -- making it imperative that his two most recent classes produce right away.

Isle Players expected to sign today

Name Position Ht. Wt. High School Verbal Commitment
Ikaika Curnan LB 6-0 230 St. Louis Hawaii
Justin Faimealelei WR 6-2 205 Kaimuki Hawaii
Pesefea Fiaseu RB 5-11 220 St. Louis Hawaii
Aaron Francisco DB 6-4 190 Kahuku Brigham Young
Saia Hafoka WR 5-10 165 Kahuku Brigham Young
Kila Kamakawiwo'ole WR 6-2 200 Kaimuki Hawaii
Willie Kava OL 6-3 280 Iolani Washington
Chris Kemoe'atu OL/DL 6-5 330 Kahuku Utah
Semisi Livai LB 6-0 200 Kahuku Utah
Joe Lobendahn LB 6-0 205 St. Louis Washington
Lyle Maiava DL 6-2 300 St. Louis Oregon
Donovan Raiola OL 6-2 280 Kamehameha Wisconsin
*Elia Tauala DL 6-4 275 Roosevelt Utah
*Francisco Tipoti OL 6-6 320 McKinley Washington
Lokahi Travis OL 6-3 280 Kailua Hawaii
*Aukuso Tuiolemotu OL 6-3 300 McKinley San Diego State
*Tauala is a junior college transfer from Santa Ana (Calif.) College

*Tipoti is a junior college transfer from City College of San Francisco

*Tuiolemotu is a junior college transfer from City College of San Francisco

Other University of Hawaii recruits expected to sign

Name Position Ht. Wt. Last School
Mike Bass RB 5-6 165 Centennial (Calif) High
Omar Bennett WR 6-1 180 Laney (Calif) College
Lamar Broadway QB/DB 5-11 175 Centennial (Calif) High
Tyrone Brown LB 6-2 225 Highland (Calif) High
Brandon Eaton OL 6-4 290 Worthing (Texas) High
Jean Elise CB 5-9 180 El Camino (Calif) Col
Donny Faaliliu LB 6-1 240 L.A. Harbor College
Josh Galeai RB 6-2 240 Palomar (Calif) Col.
Omega Hogan CB 5-11 180 Aldine (Texas) High
Mike Holt OL 6-5 305 Grand Rapids (Mich) Col.
Cameron Hollingsworth CB 6-0 175 Cascade (Wash) High
Nate Ilaoa WR 5-10 180 N. Stafford (Va.) High
Leo Reed LB 6-0 230 Westlake (Calif) High
Jeff Rhode QB 6-6 220 Churchill (Ore) High
Isaak Sopoaga DT 6-4 290 Col. of the Canyons (Cal)
Hiram Travis DE 6-2 280 El Camino (Calif) Col.
Matt Tupuola NT 6-3 290 El Camino (Calif). Col.

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