Decades Of War­rior Foot­ball Mem­o­ries

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - KEEP­ING SCORE Bob Hogue

As I watched the Uni home opener at Aloha Sta­dium this past La­bor Day week­end, it oc­curred to me that this is my 30th sea­son of watch­ing UH foot­ball (1988-2017). I have so many won­der­ful mem­o­ries dur­ing those three decades. I vividly was in Honolulu in­ter­view­ing for a sports­caster job I even­tu­ally got at KHON-TV. The ‘Bows were host­ing na­tion­ally ranked Iowa in a con­test that most ex­perts thought would go to the vis­i­tors. But be­fore a rau­cous home crowd - got the game-win­ning field goal from a young kicker by the name of Ja­son Elam.

That was September 1988, in a time pe­riod when UH av­er­aged well over 40,000 fans per game, even when it wasn’t a big-name team com­ing to town. The next two years, I wit­nessed two of his­tory — both against BYU.

First, in 1989, Bob Wag­ner’s coach­ing staff, in­clud­ing of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Paul John­son, un­leashed a scor­ing bar­rage against the ri­val Cougars like they had never seen be­fore. Stream­ers and con­fetti rained down on the Aloha Sta­dium turf as Gar­rett Gabriel and com­pany broke a 15-year-los­ing streak to BYU by win­ning in over­whelm­ing fash­ion, 56-14.

If that wasn’t enough, the ‘Bows put on an in­cred­i­ble re­peat per­for­mance a year later. I was lucky enough to do the ra­dio play-by-play that time on an early De­cem­ber night in 1990 when BYU’s Ty Det­mer had been an­nounced as the Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner just hours be­fore game time.

The Rain­bow de­fense didn’t let him cel­e­brate, as Mark Odom sacked Det­mer again and again, while the Gabriel-led UH of­fense rolled up an awe­some 59-28 vic­tory.

By 1992, few were ex for a WAC ti­tle. In fact, the eighth in a pre­sea­son poll. The team was so ticked off, they screen-printed spe­cial prac­tice T-shirts with a cir­cled No. 8 with a line go­ing through it. They knew that in no way were they only the eighth-best team in the con­fer­ence!

Michael Carter, Travis Sims, Ma’a Tanu­vasa, and many other fa­mil­iar names over­achieved all sea­son long in not only win­ning a share of the WAC ti­tle, but the Hol­i­day Bowl, as well. After some years of great strug­gle, in­clud­ing a win­less cam­paign came back strong in 1999 un­der June Jones.

I re­mem­ber UH play­ers fi­nally won their first game that ’99 sea­son, against East- ern Illi­nois, of all peo­ple. But by the time that mag­i­cal sea­son was over, the War­riors Bowl winners over Ore­gon State, and the best turn­around team in the en­tire NCAA.

The JJ years were awe­some. The crowds came back to the sta­dium, and the team was so fun to watch. Timmy Chang broke all kinds of pass­ing records in the early 2000s, then Colt Bren­nan came along to es­tab­lish even more records a few years later. I still be­lieve the 2006 team that won 11 games and smashed Ari­zona State in the ever saw.

Be­sides Bren­nan, that out­stand­ing squad in­cluded Ikaika Alama-Fran­cis, Leonard Peters, Nate Ilaoa, Davone Bess, Ross Dick­er­son, Ja­son Rivers and so many other great play­ers.

Then, of course, 10 years ago came that mag­i­cal per­fect put to­gether a string of 12 con­sec­u­tive wins and earned a con­fer­ence ti­tle be­fore com­ing back down to earth in a Sugar Bowl loss to Ge­or­gia. Still, it was fun to watch while it lasted.

The last decade has been tough on all of us who call fans, but, as Nick Rolovich proved last year by lead­ing the Rain­bow War­riors on an im­prob­a­ble run that ended in a berth and a win in the pos­si­ble.

And that’s what keeps us true fans com­ing back year after year. Thanks for the mem­o­ries — Go ‘Bows!

Uni­ver­sity of Hawai‘i foot­ball player Gar­rett Gabriel circa Oc­to­ber 1990

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