Hawaii Rainbow Warrior Football Offseason Rundown
What’s been going on with the team since the end of the 2017 season?
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Find out everything that’s been going down with the ‘Bows this offseason.
It has been a busy offseason for the Rainbow Warriors so far and it has only just begun. Here are a few things that went down since their final game against BYU:
Jahlani Tavai a Finalist for Polynesian Player of the Year:
Jahlani Tavai has arguably been one of the better if not the best defensive player on the Hawaii football team in the three years since he debuted in 2015 as a redshirt freshman. To that end, it should be no surprise to his teammates, coaches and the fans that he is among five finalists for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award.
Since its inception in 2014, this award is presented every year by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame to the “most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity.” The other four finalists are defensive players: Manase Hungalu (Oregon State), Hercules Mata’afa (Washington State), Andrew Motuapuaka (Virginia Tech), and Vita Vea (University of Washington).
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, comprised of the familiar faces of Dick Tomey, Neil Everett, and Robert Kekaula select the finalists, and the winners each year. Previous winners of the award include the award’s inaugural recipient, Marcus Mariota, Ronnie Stanley and Sefo Liufau.
The award’s winner will be announced on December 14, 2017, and the presentation of the honor will be at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend’s Celebration Dinner on January 18, 2018.
BYU Games Added to Future Schedule:
From the start of the season, Hawaii fans were excited to see how an up and coming program led by Nick Rolovich would do against long-time rival BYU. Both programs faltered leading up to their first matchup since 2012 but still offered up a tightly contested game. The two programs will meet up once again in 2018 but had no plans to face-off in the immediate future at the conclusion of the 2017 season.
However, late last week fans learned that the two teams would be adding a home and home series in 2024 and 2025. A lot of things can happen in six seasons, but for the Rainbow Warrior program, it is a good idea to lock them in. For one, it should boost their strength of schedule and two, for the guaranteed abundance of tickets that will be sold. Scheduling another set of games was a no-brainer, but the logistics had to be worked out. No one wanted a repeat of the unfortunate cancellation of the 2013-2014 home and home series.
Despite their current struggles, the Cougars have proven themselves to be one of the better FBS programs. It should not take them long, to right the wrongs that weighed down their 2017 season. Hawaii fans don’t need to wait till 2024, circle your calendars now for September 14, 2024, and September 6, 2025.
Some of the Best in the Mountain West:
Five Rainbow Warriors have been honored by a panel of media members and head coaches as some of the best in the Mountain West Conference. Dejon Allen was named to the first team and was joined by Diocemy St. Juste and Jahlani Tavai on the second team. Meffy Koloamatangi and Viane Moala were recognized with honorable mentions.
There aren’t a lot of surprises here, but I am disappointed that John Ursua was not acknowledged at all. Moala was an impactful special teams player and an integral part of the defensive line rotation but as Hawaii fans know, once Ursua went down so did the offense. Up until the San Jose State game, where he got injured, he was up there with the best in the FBS according to Pro Football Focus. We all saw that once he was gone the team had no receivers that would keep defenses from stacking the box against DSJ and the offense ultimately suffered for it. I think this was a big mistake and Ursua should have gotten recognized even if he didn’t play a complete season. He was just that outstanding of a player.
You could argue for Tavai to be on the first team, but Jeffrey Allison had a terrific season of his own. I think that Tavai had a good case against Allison, but he was docked some points due to the Rainbow Warrior defense being as bad as they were. Tavai was a superior pass rusher and run stuffer that displayed incredible instincts on each play. If anything Allison has him in pass coverage, but despite his glaring coverage miscues you need to give him points for being consistent. Tavai’s production was nearly identical to what he did in 2016 showing that his well-rounded skill set is authentic and should be given the champion’s the benefit of the doubt.
Everything else considered, this list seems to be accurate. DSJ’s late-season struggles spurred on by injuries on the offensive line and receiving corps cost him higher honors, but I don’t think his lack of accolades will hurt his draft stock too much. The man is an extraordinary talent, and it will be fun watching him play on Sundays.
Annual Team Banquet Awards:
The Rainbow Warriors held their annual Alec Waterhouse Memorial Football Awards Banquet on November 26th. Here is a list of the 2017 Award Winners:
Alec Waterhouse Most Valuable Player Award: Diocemy Saint Juste
Warrior Club Award: Jeremiah Pritchard
Coach June Jones Offensive MVP: Dejon Allen
Coach Bob Wagner Defensive MVP: Jahlani Tavai
Coach Dick Tomey Special Teams MVP: Ammon Barker
Coach Tom Kaulukukui Offensive Captain: Dru Brown
Coach Otto Klum Defensive Captain: Trayvon Henderson
Ben Yee Most Inspirational Player: Kalepo Naotala
Jenny Masuda Scholar-Athlete: Genta Ito
Coach Larry Price Unselfish Warrior: Stephan Bernal-Wendt
Coach Dave Holmes Most Improved Player: Solomon Matautia
Coach Jimmy Asato Offensive Scout Team: Tristin Kamaka
Coach Hank Vasconcellos Defensive Scout Team: KK Padello
That was the first rundown for the 2017-2018 Hawaii offseason. Stay tuned for more University of Hawaii Football coverage here on MWWire.com.