UH Football Gives Entire State Reason To Believe
by Duane Shimogawa
The UH Warrior huddle to get ready for the kick-off.
The main reason why UH brought us up to O`ahu was to give more coverage to our readers both on the Big Island and on Kaua`i. The Maui newspaper did not send anyone. Maybe they thought they were giving enough coverage or maybe they didn’t know how good the team would eventually become. Most people around the state knew they were good, but only a few knew they would be this good. That’s exactly what makes it so sweet for UH fans all over the world.
Looking at this year’s schedule before they even set foot on the field, the last four games scared me. First it was Fresno State at home, then off to Nevada, but back at home for Boise State and Washington. But what most of us didn’t know was how Louisiana Tech and San Jose State would give all of us a scare, as we almost choked on our mochi crunch snacks.
The San Jose State game in particular was probably the turning point for UH, as they battled back in the final minutes to escape and keep their record unblemished. I remember watching that game at work (If I was at home on Kaua`i, I’d call in sick, but here in Montana, they’re not big fans, so they wouldn’t understand) and thinking this is the end to their only chance at perfection. But when they started to inch closer to the Spartans, my heart began pounding and I immediately stopped working on my story for the night. No train wreck, plane crash or murder would interrupt me from the game. Luckily for me, they pulled it out for the win and no breaking news took me away from the close contest. But as I cheered with fist pumps in the air, my co-workers had puzzled looks. They couldn’t understand how passionate and dedicated people from Hawai`i are to its only football team.
Football without a doubt is king in the Aloha State and with no professional team, we seem to adopt UH as our professional team. And if UH is our team, then that means Colt Brennan is our Tom Brady. He is without a doubt a great ambassador for our great state. In ESPN reports or any other media opportunities, Colt always praises Hawai`i for giving him a second chance when nobody else really wanted him. We took him in as a proud son and in return, he gave us hope and reason to believe.
But besides Colt, the entire team had the heart and guts to make it happen. A great example is the Nevada game, where Colt was unable to play and Tyler Graunke led the team to victory, especially with the help of Dan Kelly’s golden foot. It was the final game though with Washington, when the Warriors gave us something to be proud of. It was a late start and in Montana, I was up until 1 a.m. watching the game. This, if UH lost, would have been one of the most painful losses probably of all time. But not only did they prevail, they also gave us one final look at just how much heart this team has. And in the end, that final interception that sealed it, was as sweet as that first taste of guava juice, especially knowing that just two years ago, I stood on the same field as a team that was able to capture the hopes and imaginations of all who love Hawai`i. A win against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl would cap it all off, but that would just be icing on a cake that’s already been made to perfection!
Duane Shimogawa Jr. was born and raised in Lihu`e, Kauai and currently resides in Kalispell, Montana, where he is a news reporter for KCFW-TV (NBC). After graduating from Kauai High School in 1998, he went off to college at Graceland University in Iowa. After a short two-year stint, Duane transferred to Central Washington University and graduated with a broadcast journalism degree in 2003. He then returned home to Kauai and worked as a radio announcer and the sports editor for The Garden Island newspaper before heading back to the Mainland. He is the proud son of Duane Sr. and Cynthia. He has one sister, Shantelle, a brother-in-law, Eugemar and a 3-year-old nephew, Cody. When Duane’s not on TV, he’s doing anything that deals with the outdoors, especially golf!
By NWHT Staff
Ken Niumatalolo, born and raised in Hawai`i, was recently named head football coach at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Niumatalolo is from Lā`ie, O`ahu and a graduate of Radford High and the University of Hawai`i (’89) where he played for the Warriors (the Rainbow Warriors back then.) He is the fifth of seven children born to Simi and Lamala Niumatalolo who moved to Hawai`i from American Samoa.
"It's an honor and a privilege to be named head football coach at the Naval Academy," said Niumatalolo. "I would like to thank Adm. Fowler and Mr. Gladchuk [Naval Academy Director of Athletics] for supporting me and I am excited about the future of the Navy football program. I am in the process of putting together a coaching staff that will give us every opportunity to continue the winning tradition at the Naval Academy."
Niumatalolo has been at the Naval Academy for 10 years. He is the first Samoan collegiate head coach and the first Polynesian head coach in NCAA Division IA history. Ken and his wife Barbara have three children, Alexia, Va`a and Ali`i.
By Duane Shimogawa
Lee took the Bulldog program over in 2001 and compiled a 33-43 record including Frontier Conference co-championships in 2002 and 2004 and a spot in the NAIA playoffs in 2002.
“Tommy did a great job here and we are sad to see him go,” said Western athletics director Mark Durham. “He is well respected in the coaching fraternity. His teams played a fun and exciting style of football.”
Lee earned honorable mention All-America honors as a quarterback for Willamette College in McMinnville, Oregon, where he graduated in 1963. He played one season in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders. He coached at his alma mater, St. Louis High, was head coach at Willamette for 10 seasons and served as offensive coordinator at both Portland State and the University of Montana. Lee coached at Toronto of the CFL and San Antonio of the World League of American Football before moving back to the college ranks, first at the University of Utah and then at Montana-Western.
Lee was also responsible for bringing in record numbers of players from Hawai'i to the tiny NAIA school in southwest Montana.
Duane Shimogawa is from Kaua`i and a graduate of Central Washington University. He now works at KCFW- TV in Kalispell, Montana.
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