Sept. 6, 2011
NOTE: This Thursday's UW football practice will be closed to all.
PARK & RIDE USERS, PLEASE NOTE: Due to Mercer St. ramp closures this weekend, Metro Service from the Federal Way and Renton Park & Ride locations has been altered. Click here for Federal Way schedule. Click here for Renton schedule. Metro urges fans to arrive at the Park & Ride locations earlier than normal.
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Hauoli Jamora doesn't need a family reunion this year.
He doesn't need a high school one, either.
Jamora is one of five Huskies from Hawai'i. And because the return of UW's pass rush will be a key, the sophomore defensive lineman from the northeastern shore of Oahu will likely be the most prominent islander playing against his "home team" on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., when Washington hosts Hawai'i (ROOT Sports TV, Washington IMG College radio, GoHuskies.com for a live game chat and streaming audio).
Jamora's ties to Hawai'i's team run throughout its depth chart.
"I have in-laws on the team. I have cousins on the team. I have former players from my high school who were close, who I still talk to," Jamora, from Laie, Hawai'i, said.
Let's see: Hawai'i senior linebacker Corey Paredes is Jamora's brother-in-law, married to the Husky's step sister.
"We are pretty close," Jamora said.
The sister of Warriors defensive lineman Alema Tachibana, who like Jamora went to Kahuku High School on Oahu, is "basically my sister-in-law," Jamora said. That is pending an imminent wedding.
Warriors safety Kamalani Alo, another product of Kahuku High, is a cousin of Jamora's.
Then there's safety Richard Torres and Paipai Falemalu, one of Hawai'i's defensive ends that wrecked Colorado last weekend. They also went to Kahuku High with Jamora.
All those Warriors spent days this summer at home on the islands with their Husky ex-pat, anticipating Saturday's fourth-ever meeting between Washington and Hawai'i, and only the second since 1973.
"We were talking trash a little bit to each other, but all just fun and jokes," Jamora said. "We all want each other to play to the best of our abilities and see what happens."
The Polynesian influence on the 2011 Huskies runs as deep as Jamora's family ties.
Just before kickoff last Saturday, senior Alameda Ta'amu stood in the middle of a large circle of Dawgs at the 20-yard line past the home bench area. Surrounded by fellow defensive lineman Sione Potoa'e and other Polynesians - including running backs Jesse Callier and Johri Fogerson - Ta'amu led a spirited dance with stomping, wide-arm clapping and chanting.
Ta'amu said following Tuesday's practice that the ritual he led Saturday was different than a haka.
A few feet away, redshirt freshman Lawrence Lagafuaina, a 330-pound defensive tackle from Aiea, Hawai'i, was describing that haka, a South Pacific Islander war dance.
"It motivated us before games start, to get that warrior out of you," Lagafuaina said of his high-school days on the islands.
He says he has brought up the idea of the entire Huskies' team doing a haka before games. That'd be great with Huskies quarterback Keith Price, who is far from Polynesia as a native of Compton in south Los Angeles.
"Aw, yeah, we've got a lot of `Polys' on the team. They've been there with their haka," Price said, smiling. "I've got to learn it so I can start doing it."
For now a sack dance - or just a sack, period - would work for Washington.
Coaches are demanding this week that Jamora and the rest of the Huskies' defense play with more passion. Washington allowed 504 total yards and 39 pass completions to Eastern Washington last weekend, when Jamora had the Huskies' lone sack in their opening, 30-27 escape.
This week, he and his fellow rushers will be trying to corral Hawai'i quarterback Bryant Moniz. Moniz passed for a national-best 5,040 yards last season. Then last week, when Colorado focused on his throwing, the Warriors quarterback ran for 121 yards while accounting for all four of Hawai'i's touchdowns in a 34-17 victory.
Hawai'i is bringing the run-and-shoot offense to Husky Stadium, which is similar in style to Eastern's quick pitch-and-catch game out of shotgun. But it is perhaps more dangerous, because Moniz is far more a runner than Eastern's Bo Levi Mitchell was last weekend.
Still, Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian expects another 60-plus passes at his defense Saturday. He and coordinator Nick Holt have tasked UW's defensive front to bring more conviction to their pursuits of the quarterback this week.
"There were guys that were coming in unblocked, but it just didn't look like we believed in what we were doing," Holt said of last Saturday. "We were coming full speed, and guys were hesitant. I felt that out there.
"It didn't surprise me because there were a lot of guys out there who hadn't played before. Now that they've played they will believe in what they are doing and they will play a little faster."
Jamora will be going full tilt. Again.
"Man, it felt like I was doing shuttle runs the whole game," he said of Eastern calling 70 pass plays last week. "You try to work different moves on every play. But when you've got to rush the passer 60 times, I don't know how many moves you've got."
Fatigue might take a while longer to set in on Jamora and his fellow Hawaiian Huskies this week.
"I have a lot of family coming out," Jamora said. "Being from Hawai'i, I feel I have to show up and can't embarrass myself out there, and as a team."
Like almost every islander on UW's roster, Hawai'i recruited Jamora.
"They just recruited me late," the sophomore said. "Washington was there a lot longer ... I was here all the way."
Yet the pull from Hawaiians for their boys to stay home is huge. After all, it's the only major college football program within two time zones of home, and the nearest large land mass is about 2,000 miles away.
Hawai'i offered Lagafuaina a scholarship in his junior year at Aiea High, just north of Honolulu. Like most Hawaiian boys, he grew up devoted to the Warriors. He went to their football camps in the summer, their games in the fall.
Yet when Washington offered him a scholarship a year after Hawai'i did, Lagafuaina left for the mainland. The middle of five children followed his older sister, who went to Nevada, and an older brother who attended Fresno State.
"A lot of people in the community wanted me to stay back, and family, they wanted me to stay back. But the decision was on me," said Lagafuaina, who opened eyes during preseason camp as a productive backup to Ta'amu inside. "I wanted to leave the islands and experience something different. Hawai'i will always be there."
Huskies safety Taz Stevenson got a scholarship offer from UH as a sophomore at Mililani, one of Hawai'i's largest high schools. But he, too, accepted Washington's offer a year later.
"I think it's good for me to go outside my elements and be here in Washington," Stevenson said Tuesday. "A lot of people were like that at first, they wanted me to stay home. My mom thought it was a good idea for me to leave. But other family members wanted me to stay and be a Warrior."
Jamora agrees the pull is strong to stay in Hawai'i. Yet he feels fortunate those closest to him view the issue as a chance to mature farther from home than most young college students.
"There are a lot of family and friends who push us to go somewhere else, to become men," Jamora said. "But I think just within ourselves there's something that makes us want to stay in our comfort zone and with our friends. It's definitely hard to get away from that."
Jamora committed late in his senior season to Washington, after a plan to sign with Brigham Young fell through and Hawai'i came on late. He says Warriors football is king on the islands.
"Whoo! Everybody loves football in Hawai'i, I can say. All my family, all my friends are into it," he said. "From when I was a little kid I wanted to play for UH because I went and saw them all the time. I watched them on TV.
"But," he added with a laugh and a nod toward Saturday's reunion, "not anymore."
QUICK HITS: Price again worked the early parts of practice before yielding to backup Nick Montana. Sarkisian said Monday that Price may be limited early this week by the knee he sprained in the first half against Eastern Washington, but the team still expects him to start Saturday. ... WR Jermaine Kearse, who sprained his ankle in the first quarter of the opener, and CB Quinton Richardson both practiced with the starters again and are also expected to start against Hawai'i. Richardson missed last week while recovering from his high ankle sprain from Aug. 13. ... UW expects at least 60,000 at Saturday's game. Forecasts call for sun and perhaps 86 degrees inside Husky Stadium by the second half. ... Last week's sunny opener attracted a larger-than-normal walk-up sale of almost 1,000 tickets.