Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, November 14, 2001


UH Football

Alapa steps in to
fill void left
by Pisa injury

The sophomore is getting used
to more playing time
in Tinoisamoa's absence

By Dave Reardon

At this time of the season, backups are filling in for injured starters all over the college football landscape.

But most don't have to try to replace one of their team's best players.

Hawaii junior outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa will likely miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his right leg, putting sophomore Keani Alapa on the field for the Warriors down the stretch.

Tinoisamoa was leading the Western Athletic Conference in tackles when he hurt the leg against Fresno State. He appeared to be on the way to all-conference honors.

Alapa, who played mostly in passing situations before Tinoisamoa got hurt, has filled in the best he can. The 6-foot, 222-pound Kamehameha graduate from Kaaawa has made 19 of his 30 tackles this season in the past two games.

He will start again when Hawaii (6-3) hosts Miami (Ohio) (7-3) Saturday at Aloha Stadium.

"I wish Pisa was still out here. He was having such a good year. I feel bad for that," Alapa said. "But I'm getting an opportunity and have to make the most out of it."

Alapa, who has recovered from offseason knee surgery, played hurt in last Saturday's 28-21 loss to Boise State. He cut his right thumb on BSU quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie's helmet. After getting five stitches at halftime, he returned to the game and finished with six tackles, including a sack among two tackles for losses.

But Alapa is haunted by one big play he nearly made on the Broncos' game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

"I missed a tackle that would've given them a third-and-long," he said. "I hit (running back Brock Forsey) in the backfield, but I slipped off of him and it kept the drive going. I take responsibility."

Admirable, but there were many plays where the Warriors came up just a bit short. No one is blaming Alapa, from the head coach down.

"I thought all the players that filled in for the hurt guys contributed and did some things to help us," Hawaii coach June Jones said. "Everybody's got to pick up some slack. He's not Pisa so that means the other guys have to pick up some slack too."

Alapa, who played in four games last season before injuring his left knee, is building up his endurance after spot duty in Hawaii's first seven games this fall.

"Stepping into Pisa's shoes is pretty rough. But he's getting better every game," middle linebacker Chris Brown said. "The past two games he played in 80-something plays. He'll keep getting better as he gets used to it."

Defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said he hopes Patrick Harley will be ready to spell Alapa on occasion this Saturday, but the 17-year-old redshirt freshman up from the scout team is still learning the defensive schemes.

Jones said yesterday that he is not counting on sophomore starting defensive end Travis Laboy's right ankle sprain to be healed enough so that he can play Saturday. In that case, senior Joe Correia will start again.

Alapa said he is confident the Warriors can bounce back after losing for the first time after a five-game winning streak.

"We watched them a little (on tape) yesterday, and they look like a passing team," he said. "If we can stop our own team's passing in practice, we can stop anyone."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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