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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Warriors' offense is Satele's kingdom

Posted on: Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Warriors' offense is Satele's kingdom

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Before yesterday's football practice, each University of Hawai'i offensive lineman was required to write his name on the front of his white helmet.

Samson Satele, a fifth-year senior and starting center, scribbled "King" as his name.

"Samson is the king," quarterback Colt Brennan said. "He is the man. You don't mess with him physically or the way you talk to him. It's his offense, really. We just play. He blocks for us. He makes it happen. It all starts with him. As the center, he's got the ball in his hands before every play. He has to (hike) it to me before anybody else can touch the ball. He's the king of our offense. Everybody knows that."

That was graphically evident at the end of yesterday's practice, when UH coach June Jones announced the entire team would be punished because some players had broken a minor team rule. For the next 15 minutes, the players went through a nonstop mixture of running in place, push-ups and shoe-ace touches.

After five minutes, the 6-foot-3, 311-pound Satele began screaming to nobody in particular.

At the end of the punishment, Satele summoned his teammates to midfield, then delivered a scathing R-rated lecture.

"Some guys weren't paying attention," Satele said. "Some guys were not listening. ... Some guys weren't disciplined in what they were doing, so the coaches made us run. We ran it. Everybody ran it as a team. Hopefully, it won't happen again. I've already said my piece. That's it."

Off the field, Satele is usually quiet and reserved. Last year, center Derek Fa'avi, who was a senior and co-captain, was the vocal leader.

"The way situations work out, Samson is now the Derek Fa'avi of this team," Brennan said. "He does it his own way. Derek Fa'avi was always good at being funny and knowing when to step up. Samson's the same way. Samson demands a lot of respect, and he's going to get a lot of respect out of you. When he says something, by the tone of his voice and his mannerisms, you know that what he's saying is what he means, and you don't want to cross him on anything."

While teammates have regarded Satele as a vocal leader, yesterday's outburst was a rare public display.

Asked if he was comfortable in his leadership role, Satele said, "I'll take it. If nobody else wants it, I'll step up. I don't want to go through that (bleep) again. That (bleep) was hard."

Jones offered a slight grin as he watched Satele.

"It's their team," Jones said. "It's the seniors' team."

Right guard John Estes, a second-year freshman, said: "Samson is clearly the leader on the offensive side of the ball, for sure. He's very vocal. He's a senior. He wants to go out on top. We all know he'll be a future NFL player. But he wants this team, which represents Hawai'i, to come out on top. He's representing his family and his university. He wants everybody to get on the same page."

KAONOHI FIRST OFF BENCH

After years of training, backup center Marques Kaonohi can speak proudly of his new benchmark.

Kaonohi, a fifth-year senior from Kailua High School, recently bench pressed 225 pounds a team-record 42 times.

Kaonohi, who is 6 feet 1 and 261 pounds, said his fellow offensive linemen have excelled in different areas.

"Dane (Uperesa) had his squat, Tala (Esera) had his power clean," Kaonohi said. "I wanted to get something of my own."

Kaonohi said he loads up on protein and iron every day. "I try to lift as much as I can," said Kaonohi, who can bench press a maximum 460 pounds.

During team testing in March, Kaonohi bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times, tying nose tackle Lawrence Wilson for the team high.

During the recent team testing, which began last week, Kaonohi mapped out a strategy. "I knew I could do 30, so I pounded those out as fast as I could," he said. "I took it one at a time after that."

After completing the discipline, he recalled, "I was tired. I blew my mind. I had a headache after I did it."

THEY'RE ON THEIR GUARD

The Warriors have not even started contact drills — those begin tomorrow, with full-pad hitting on Friday — but Estes and Hercules Satele have emerged as the leading contenders at the two guard positions.

Estes, from Stockton, Calif., is hoping to succeed right guard Brandon Eaton, who completed his NCAA eligibility last December.

Estes is sandwiched between Uperesa and Samson Satele on the offensive line. "They really help me a lot," Estes said.

Although Estes was on the travel roster last year, he admittedly struggled as a first-year Warrior. He wound up redshirting.

"I didn't think I was as good as anybody in the starting five," Estes said. "The starting five guys were really good. I knew I could be a backup last year, but there was no way I was picking up that offense because it was too much. Over the spring and summer I started getting the hang of it. I've still got a little more to pick up."

Even at 6 feet 2 and 290 pounds, Estes is overshadowed physically next to Samson Satele and Uperesa, who is 6-5 and 331.

"I've got to make that up with technique and getting stronger as my career picks up at UH," Estes said.

Hercules Satele, a fourth-year junior from Long Beach, Calif., is in line to replace his cousin Samson Satele, who switched from left guard. He played in five games in each of the past two seasons.

Hercules was admittedly out of shape last season. This offseason, he shared a house with Samson, offensive lineman Larry Sauafea, defensive end Melila Purcell, linebacker Amani Purcell and running back Nate Ilaoa.

"Every day it was the same thing," Hercules said. "We lifted weights in the morning and ran at 5 o'clock (in the afternoon). We really worked on getting into shape."

If the season were to start today, Jones said, Hercules and Estes would be the guards.

"You have to wait your turn," Hercules said. "Even if you're second string, you have to work hard. Your time will come. My time is now."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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