Exodus of grid talent continues
By Fred Guzman
Here’s my knee-jerk reaction on the college football recruiting season that culminated with Wednesday’s much-hyped national signing day:
The University of Hawaii struggled in its efforts to stem the annual exodus of the state’s most talented prep football players, but may have recovered a bit by landing a few potential standouts from the mainland.
If fact, the top 10 players listed on the Honolulu Advertiser’s ranking of the state’s best 25 prep prospects all chose mainland colleges.
Kona Shwenke is headed to Notre Dame and fellow Kahuku defensive end Hauoli Jamora is bound for Washington. Iolani defensive lineman Sealii Espenesa chose UCLA.
Not my earlier use of “knee-jerk reaction,” because no one – including all of those self-anointed gurus – really can judge the quality of a recruiting class until three or four years down the road.
Don’t believe me, go to espn.com and search for the rankings of previous recruiting classes and you will be as stunned as I was how inaccurate they were once you get past the usual suspects.
Locally, the big news was that King Kekaulike defensive tackle Elvis Matagi accepted an offer from Utah State, marking the first time a Na Alii player received a scholarship from a Division-I-A program.
The 6-2, 255-pounder was recruited by his future positon coach, ex-Baldwin head coach Chad Kaha’aha’a, who also worked the islands to land four other kids from Hawaii – including Saint Louis quarterback Jeremy Higgins.
In related news, JW Kenton announced he was stepping down as head coach of King Kekaulike’s football team after compiling a 23-18-1 record in four seasons. Na Alii won the state D-II title in 2006, his first year on the job.
BADWIN REACHES SEMIS: Things worked out to perfection Thursday day for the MIL’s three teams in the state girls’ soccer tournaments, and none better than for Baldwin.
The third-seeded Lady Bears advanced into Friday’s Division-I semifinals with a 1-0 win over Kapolei. The lone goal came on a header by Amber-Lei Madriaga off a corner kick by sister sophomore Amanda Jorgensen midway through the second half.
Baldwin faces second-seeded Mililani, which routed Pearl City 4-0, in tonight’s 7 o’clock marquee match at the Waipio Soccer Stadium. In the other D-I semi, top-seeded Punahou faces Kalani at 5 o’clock. Punahou beat Moanalua 5-2 while Kalani blanked Hilo 3-0.
Kekaulike and Seabury rebounded from opening losses to post consolation victories. Maya Palaraon scored twice in Kekaulike’s 4-0 D-I win over Castle. In D-II, Seabury, beat Kaimuki 3-1.
Both teams will play in their respective consolation finals on Saturday , with Kekaulike facing Iolani and Seabury meeting Nanakuli.
The state canoe paddling regatta is set for Friday at the Keehi Lagoon on Oahu. Kamehameha-Maui is the defending boys champ. Punahou is the defending mixed crew champion and has won the past two girls’ titles.
And a big hoops showdown is on tap Friday at the Baldwin gym when the second-place Bears play host to the D-I-leading Lunas. The tipoff is set for 7. The game will be aired live on ESPN 550 and espn550.com.
The MIL D-I girls’ basketball tournament continues Friday. In the semis at the Lahaina Civic Center, regular-season champion Lahainaluna faces Kekaulike at 6 followed by Baldwin versus Maui High at 7:30. Kekaulike advanced by beating Kamehameha-Maui 46-44 last night.
RAINBOW ROUNDUP: The season record may not be particularly impressive at 5-5, but never forget that UCLA has won a record 19 NCAA men’s volleyball titles.
Hawaii and its fans were reminded of that reality Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center as UCLA battled back from an opening set deficit to beat the Bows 27-30, 30-25, 30-26, 30-25.
The two teams play again Friday, and UH must resolve some issues. Freshman Jonas Umlauft had 16 kills for the Bows last night, but UCLA dominated the net by out-blocking Hawaii 16 to 7.5. The Bruins also enjoyed a 7-3 edge in service aces.
As if things weren’t going badly enough for the UH men’s basketball team, losers of four straight and currently tied for seventh in the nine-team WAC, the Bows will remain without their best outside shooter – perhaps for the rest of the season.
Coach Bob Nash announced that Dwain Williams has been suspended indefinitely for violating unspecified team rules related to academics.
Williams missed UH’s last five games because of a death in his family and earlier was benched for several games for other team-related issues. Williams was averaging 14 points and, despite playing in just 14 of 21 games, still leads the team with 31 3-pointers.
Hawaii hosts WAC rival Fresno State on Saturday night in the nightcap off a twinbill also featuring the Rainbow Wahine versus the Bulldogs.
NA KOA: Maui’s new entry in the independent Golden Baseball League made a couple of key front-office hires. Scott Murray was named GM and local boy Barry Takahashi was named assistant GM. Murray formerly played in the San Francisco Giants organization, was an assistant coach at Cal and served as a scout for big league teams. He currently resides on Oahu. Takahashi was a standout player at Baldwin High and played collegiately, most notably at TCU. He formerly coached at Kamehameha-Maui and is currently involved with several youth-oriented development programs.