Star-Bulletin Sports

Leo Goeas gave a hand yesterday to the participants in his three-day On-the-Line football clinic.

Isle linemen keep
football season going

The Leo Goeas Foundation
works at making Hawaii's
young linemen better

By Nick Abramo

It's not football season.

But don't tell that to the 50-plus kids and handful of instructors out at the St. Louis School football field yesterday for the last day of the Leo Goeas Foundation's On-the-Line Camp.

Braving the relentless midday heat the past three days, high school offensive linemen from around the state learned a thing or two from some of the best in the business.

To all of them, it's always football season, and the players who don't think that way probably won't be in the game much longer.

"I loved what I saw out there," said Goeas, who played all of the line positions in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles and St. Louis Rams and Baltimore Ravens after his high school and college days at Kamehameha and Hawaii. "All of the kids were attentive, giving great efforts and soaking it all up like sponges.

Leo Goeas watched Jeremy Butzer of Mililani and Justin Thompson of Radford during blocking drills.

"And they should be able to transfer what they've learned back to their respective teams. That's what we're out here for, to give these kids the extra edge they need to be competitive. The good ones are looking for any edge they can get."

Goeas eventually wants the camps to evolve into two parts --the high-school camp run by his non-profit foundation and another (for profit) camp for college and pro players.

"It would be to hone skills and fine tune in the offseason," he said. He thinks the camps for budding linemen can be what Pete Newell's Big Man Camp is for basketball's post players.

"I think it could definitely work like that (Big Man Camp)," said instructor Dominic Raiola, the former St. Louis School and Nebraska standout who is going into his second year in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. "It can continue on, and if Leo publicizes it, it will spread and maybe it can become an O-line and a D-line camp."

Raiola plans to work out this summer with his friend and fellow center, Olin Kreutz, another former St. Louis School standout. Kreutz made the Pro Bowl last year with the Chicago Bears.

NFL tackles Marvel Smith of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Levi Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals were among the instructors at Goeas' camp. Jones starred at Arizona State and was the 10th pick in April's NFL Draft.

Steven Grace, who played at Kamehameha and Arizona and recently signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals, was also out there teaching.

Grace, a center, has been to two NFL mini-camps and is eager to compete for a spot on the Arizona roster.

"It's a privilege to come here and help out," Grace said. "When you teach technique, your technique gets better, too. So I'm out here for the kids, but it's helping me, too, and I have a lot to learn."

Hawaii line coach Mike Cavanaugh was also out there, barking out directions and tips to the troops. He has watched several of his players continue on to the NFL.

"I sound like a broken record, don't I," Cavanaugh shouted to a group of players. "That's because I want you to what? Pay attention to detail!"

Cavanaugh constantly asked and answered his own questions yesterday during one of his mini-sessions.

"You're pushing off your what? The inside of your feet!"

With the beginning of fall practice a little more than a month away, Cavanaugh just can't get enough of football. Two highly regarded UH linemen, guard Vince Manuwai and tackle Lui Fuata, were among the spectators.

"I love this profession. I love coaching," Cavanaugh said. "And by helping these kids, we're giving them a chance, and it might turn out to be the chance of a lifetime. And it also gives me a chance to see what kind of talent we've got here in the islands."

Smith, Pittsburgh's starting right tackle, is still working on helping the Steelers get to the Super Bowl. They lost to New England in the AFC Championship last year.

"We can get a whole lot better," Smith said. "We haven't attained our goal the last two years, and can't afford any occasional letdowns that have hurt us in the past."

Working on getting better. That's what the camp is helping Hawaii's kids do.

"Leo is one of the best coaches I've seen and I think he can blow it (the camp) up into something really big and make it a major part of the community," Smith said.

To contact the Leo Goeas Foundation, write to
P.O. Box 894801, Mililani, HI, 96789.

E-mail to Sports Editor


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