Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, August 23, 2001


UH Football

Caped landscaper
to fix Maui field

The job is in good hands with
Toma, the nationally respected
maintenance man


By Dave Reardon

If you've got a problem, it helps if you can get the best in the world at solving it.

George Toma, the Michael Jordan of sports landscaping, is on his way from Kansas City to Maui to repair the War Memorial Stadium football field -- hopefully in time for the University of Hawaii's season-opening football game against Montana on Sept. 8.

Toma, spoofed as the superhero "Marquis de Sod" in an ESPN commercial, is also responsible for vast improvement of the UH football and soccer practice fields.

Coaches and other observers said the Maui field was in rough shape last weekend, especially after two preseason high school games.

Maui Parks and Recreation director Floyd Miyazono reacted quickly when he discovered the condition of the field.

"I probably should have gone out and looked at the field earlier. Based on the concerns of the general public, we called George," Miyazono said. "I'll be at the airport (this) evening to pick him up, and he'll start (tomorrow) morning. We will give him whatever resources and staff he needs."

Miyazono said Toma has agreed to stay in Hawaii through Sept. 10 to prepare the field and consult the stadium staff.

"We feel he's second-to-none," Miyazono said. "He will give us extra knowledge we can carry with us after, too."

Miyazono said Toma's compensation hasn't been worked out yet.

"It will be determined by how much work he has to do. But the Mayor (James Apana) has made it clear we will do whatever it takes," Miyazono said. "We won't hold back any resources. We know how important the game is to the people of Maui and also there are safety and liability issues."

UH head coach June Jones said he was glad to hear Toma is on his way.

"He'll definitely get it taken care of," Jones said.

Toma is famous for producing, maintaining and repairing fields for decades for the NFL, Major League Baseball and the Olympics. But he won't be exploring new turf; Toma has prepared War Memorial for the Hula Bowl.

UH's game against Montana marks the first time Hawaii will play a football game on a neighbor island.

UH coaches are calling Thero Mitchell the best
all-around back at camp so far.

Consistency makes
Mitchell No. 1 back

By Dave Reardon

In the run-and-shoot offense, the lone running back doesn't have to be a superstar.

The University of Hawaii coaches would certainly love a big-time 100-yard rusher, but right now they're looking for consistency and knowledge of the system.

That's why senior Thero Mitchell is still the No. 1 guy.

"I would say that he's got the best knowledge of what we're doing," Warriors head coach June Jones said after yesterday's afternoon practice. "Michael Bass has done a couple things to separate himself. Until we get in a game, though, it's hard to tell with those guys. Last year when Fendo (James Fenderson) got in there, it was his job to lose after that."

So far, Mitchell, a 5-foot-10, 207-pound junior, is holding off the talented freshman Bass and a host of other hopefuls.

Running backs coach Wes Suan said Mitchell is the team's most complete back at this point.

"Consistency is a big thing, and he's got some of that," Suan said.

Mitchell saw limited action for the Warriors last season, carrying the ball 11 times for 79 yards, including two scores. He also caught two passes for 13 yards.

The coaches do like what they're seeing from others, too, including Bass, redshirt freshman Chad Kapanui and senior Tui Ala and junior Jonathan Kauka.

If Bass does play once the games start -- and there's been no indication he won't -- Suan said the Warriors might throw in some new wrinkles for the 5-6, 165-pound speedster.

"We'll just gameplan to highlight his strength like we would anyone else. It all depends on how much we use him," Suan said. "Mike Bass is very gifted in the sense that he picks up (schemes) fast, too."

But Mitchell has the advantage of already knowing them, and of having the size to be an effective blocker.

"I'm real antsy to get out there and get as many reps as I can in the full-team drills. That's the time I can show the coaches I know the whole scheme and I'm ready to play for game time," Mitchell said.

"I still need to continue to work on my technique to the point the coaches are comfortable with me, getting the job done consistently every time with good technique."

The Analyst:

Former UH and Arizona head coach Dick Tomey, who will serve as color commentator for KFVE's game telecasts this season, took in his first practice yesterday afternoon.

"I'm still putting names and faces together with numbers right now," Tomey said. "But I think the players work really hard and the coaches do a great job of teaching technique and teaching the guys the right attitudes. I'm impressed with the entire organization.

"I'd better wait a little bit before I say anything, but there are a lot of players out here that look really good to me," he added.

Tomey coached Hawaii from 1977 to 1986, compiling a 63-46-3 record before leaving for Arizona. He resigned from the Wildcats job after last season because of what he described as "public debate." His record in 14 years there was 95-64-4. Tomey is the career coaching victory leader at both schools.

Short yardage:

Just in case anyone thought they were having too much fun, the Warriors survived 30 minutes of grass drills at the end of yesterday afternoon's three-hour practice, including a good dose of the dreaded bear crawls. ... Jones said he likes the effort put forth by the defense to date: "We're hustling, and our first group remains healthy," he said.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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