At 2-8, the Hawaii football team goes through a youth movement


Nov. 7 — Pro Football Hall of Fame coach George Allen once said, “The future is now.”

Pro Football Hall of Fame coach George Allen once said, “The future is now.”

It’s a mantra the University of Hawaii football team seems to embrace as they activate their youth movement.

There were few bright spots in the Rainbow Warriors’ 55-13 loss to Fresno State last Saturday at Valley Children’s Stadium. But four UH freshmen were able to make their college debuts.

The Warriors have been open to trying to use an NCAA amendment that allows a player to appear in up to four games and still qualify for a redshirt season. The Fresno State game was the start of UH’s last four games. Wide Alex Perry, defensive linemen Dean Briski and Malachi Finau and defensive back Kona Moore made their debuts and will be eligible to play the rest of the season while remaining a freshman in 2023.

Wideout Steven Fiso joined the active roster last week and played 23 snaps against the Bulldogs. Fiso is using this as a redshirt season and will return in 2023 as a fifth-year senior. First-year safety Matagi Thompson has already reached his four-game limit and is expected to miss the final three games.

Riley Wilson, a second-year Warrior transitioning to linebacker, has played two games this season.

Non-redshirt freshmen also made key contributions. Safety Peter Manuma, a 2021 commit who delayed enrolling at UH until January, is the high school leader. Manuma is the second tackler with 48.

Running back Tylan Hines has averaged 8.7 yards per touch over the past two games. “He brings a different kind of juice and energy,” running backs coach Keiki Misipeka said.

Freshmen Chuuky Hines and Nichola Cenacle also made their way into the rotation. Against Fresno State, Hines recorded 20 snaps; Cenacle has been targeted five times in 26 games.

Defensive end Ezra Evaimalo is a third-year Warrior who likely has three seasons left after this year. He donned a redshirt in 2020 and he should be able to retroactively count his four games in 2021 under the COVID exemption. Evaimalo was used as a rushing winger when the Warriors opt for a front three.

Similar to Wilson, Nalu Emerson moves from safety to linebacker. Emerson, a fourth-year Warrior, recorded four snaps against the Bulldogs as the Warriors tried to build linebacker depth.

The Warriors completed their longest trip of the season in which they left Honolulu Wednesday noon and returned Sunday night. Due to the 4-hour driving distance between major California airports and Fresno, the Warriors have divided the trip into segments. The Warriors still fell to 2-8 overall and 1-4 in the Mountain West Conference.

“I feel sorry for our seniors,” said quarterback Brayden Schager, a sophomore, for not producing a better sendoff. “They’ve put in a lot of time and effort all season. I really like these guys. I feel for them.”


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