Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Sunday, September 9, 2001

Things finally went
as planned for Hawaii

WAILUKU>> It was hard before it was easy. These were not the Baldwin Bears. This was no MIL team going up against Hawaii, despite the silver and maroon on this War Memorial Stadium Maui night. It was a game. Montana could play. At least at first.

This is what is called a "tune-up," an opponent just good enough to be productive. They expose your weaknesses -- and Montana did that. But in the end, everything works out and everyone feels good. Timmy Chang smiles, everybody gets leis, and you've got some nice highlights to watch all week.

Did you see Justin Colbert make that catch? ("That's pretty much the biggest catch I've ever made," Colbert said.) Pisa Tinoisamoa clamping on the quarterback? Ashley Lelie striding into the end zone and diving into the highlight reel? Craig Stuzmann dissecting a defense? Thero Mitchell's superhuman first touchdown? Mike Bass' electric slide? George Toma working another miracle?

The historic night was filled with memories.

This was what was supposed to happen. It looked like a Division I team playing a I-AA team.

This was what June Jones wanted when he scheduled Portland State.

Now momentum grows heading into a very winnable game next week.

But first there were also other sights.

Hawaii defenders getting whiplash on the misdirection. The defensive line being carved up in the first quarter: Slash! Slice! Yo Humphery leaving two guys looking. Pulling Montana linemen running free like they're out on a morning jog.

"We were kind of shaky," defensive end Laanui Correa admitted. "Just kinda adjusting to what they were doing."

Montana could have won the game. Montana might have won, and the world would have ended right there.

If. If Montana could have caught the ball. If the Grizz could have stuck ahead for a key first down. If Humphery had been smart enough to run out of bounds at the end of the first half. If UH hadn't got a healthy boost from its new favorite color -- yellow. How many questionable flags went the way of the home team? (Mitchell's run was a little more stunning because half the officiating crew thought he was down.)

It had its chances. Montana could have closed the door. And Division I teams will.

But then we saw something else instead. Hawaii answered a lot of questions on defense. Adjustments were made. They closed. They swarmed. They hit.

"I don't think we did anything different, except pursued more to the ball," Correa said. "Once we caught on, then it was all downhill from there."

Hawaii had a defense.

After the first game of the season, this we know:

When Hawaii goes against a Division I-AA team and with the wind, they look very good.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

E-mail to Sports Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin