Chad Kalilimoku, Chad Owens and Chad Kapanui went from Roosevelt High School to the University of Hawaii.

These Chads
hang together

Owens, Kapanui and Kalilimoku
share a name, alma mater
and love of football

Aztecs hope to rebound from tough seasons
Bulldogs lose opener

By Cindy Luis

OW many sprints have they run together?

How many huddles have they shared?

How many yards of grass have been watered with their collective sweat from those long, hot afternoon practices?

Chad Owens, Chad Kapanui and Chad Kalilimoku share more than just the same first name and the same high school alma mater (Roosevelt). There is a love of football, a sport that brought them together at the Pop Warner level, a sport that has reunited them at the University of Hawaii.

"It was something we talked about in high school, playing together in college," said Owens, who set two NCAA return records last year as a redshirt freshman. "We would say to each other, 'Wouldn't it be awesome?' It didn't have to be UH, it could be any college.

"For that dream to actually come true ... there's nothing that can explain the feeling. It's so amazing, all three named Chad, all three from the same (high) school, all really good friends. Everyone says it's weird, but it's a great story."

The three even talked about how, some day, their story would be chronicled in the newspaper. Roosevelt football coach Les Parrilla is not surprised that it has happened.

"They are all super kids, with a great work ethic and terrific character," said Parrilla. "They all had dreams, all had goals. That's why they are where they are.

"I don't think there's a sport that teaches you better about life than football because of the adversity you face and the hurdles you overcome. These kids are prime examples of hard work paying off. And they have their minds set on doing something beyond the university level."

The goal-setting began early, nurtured on the courts and fields of Pauoa. Kalilimoku and Kapanui had known each other since kindergarten, with Owens moving into the district in sixth grade; they all went on to attend Kawananakoa Intermediate.

"The first persons that Owens met when he first came to the park was us," said Kalilimoku, who transferred this year to UH after an all-American linebacker career at Santa Ana (Calif.) College. "From then on, we started doing everything together -- park leagues, bodyboarding.

"Football was the first sport that brought us together. And it's brought us together again."

A football scholarship brought Kalilimoku back home. That, and a little pressure from his boyhood friends.

Chad Kapanui, Chad Owens , and Chad Kalilimoku recently sat in front of the high school they graduated from, Roosevelt. The three star for the University of Hawaii football team.

"I tried to push him," Kapanui said. "I told him he had a good chance to play. We knew he would have fun being back together with us. He made the right choice."

Kalilimoku, who graduated a year ahead of the other two, had several options on the mainland. He considered BYU, LSU and Utah, but "I wanted to come home and play," he said.

Warrior coach June Jones is glad he did.

"Kalilimoku was probably the best middle linebacker in junior college football last season," Jones said. "The big programs were all after him. I think we're doing the right things here and that helped his decision.

"And I think the other two Chads convinced him that this was the place he needed to be. I think that this season will prove that out. We were fortunate to get Kapanui and Owens, and now we have 'Moku.' All three have the potential to be the best at their positions for us. All three are really good football players and I'm glad they decided to stay home."

Jones doesn't bother calling them their shared given name.

"It's 'Hey, No. 5 (Kapanui), No. 2 (Owens), No. 56 (Kalilimoku),' " said Jones. "I'm glad I know their last names.

"The coaches at Roosevelt taught them to love the game. That's why they're still playing."

All three were multi-sport athletes at Roosevelt. Kapanui earned 10 letters in three sports and was all-league in football, basketball and baseball. Owens, nicknamed 'Mighty Mouse,' earned 10 letters in four sports (football, basketball, baseball and track). Kalilimoku, the OIA White Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, was all-league in football and basketball.

Last season, Owens played in 10 of 12 games, and started five as a return specialist. He broke two NCAA records -- most combined return yards in a game with 342 and most yards on kickoff returns with 249 -- both against BYU. He also tied the NCAA record for most return touchdowns in a game with two (1 punt, 1 kickoff), also against the Cougars.

Owens also led the WAC and ranked second in the nation in kickoff return average (33.6) and finished second on the team in all-purpose yardage (113.1).

"Owens is probably as talented a slot as I've ever had," Jones said. "He has unbelievable quickness and has the chance to be a big-time player."

Said UH secondary coach Rich Miano: "It's like having triplets, except they all have the same name. They're all really good athletes, all fundamentally sound. And they're very competitive. They're all trying to be the 'No. 1 Chad' for us."

The coaches have a little problem when calling out, "Chad." Besides the three Roosevelt grads, there's also sophomore offensive lineman Chad Kahale out of St. Louis on the 105-man roster.

"The coaches sometimes do it for a joke," said Owens. "They'll say 'Chad' just to see who looks. We all turn around.

"We're family. It's a bond that will never be broken. It's going to be a lot of fun this season being back together. It's really awesome to be reunited. We tried to make things happen at Roosevelt and we're looking to do some big things for UH. Everyone is good at this level and it's got to be a team effort to win."

... In 1995, Matt Harding, one of the fastest Rainbows ever, completed a career that ended with him as Hawaii's all-time leader in kickoff return yardage with 1,911. He still holds the school record.

The Rainbows went 4-8 (2-6 in the WAC) as coach Bob Wagner's firing was announced before the season-ender against Oklahoma State. Harding caught a TD pass late in that game, but it wasn't enough to avoid a 24-20 loss to the Cowboys.

Today, Harding lives in California and works for the National Parks Service.

UH Athletics

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