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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oregon State-Hawaii: A surprising, growing -- and personal -- rivalry

Posted by Paul Buker, The Oregonian September 10, 2008 16:24PM

Categories: Football

CORVALLIS -- It was the final regular season game of 2006, and Oregon State was playing in front of 50,000 frenzied fans at Aloha Stadium against quarterback Colt Brennan and No.24 Hawaii.

Beavers coach Mike Riley watched as his best offensive lineman, Jeremy Perry, came charging out of the tunnel before kickoff, waving his arms to incite the crowd.

No one, ever, had seen Perry run that fast.

Beavers players perform the haka -- a traditional Polynesian dance -- before the 2006 Sun Bowl. The Beavers' ties to the South Pacific, and Hawaii in particular, make this week's Oregon State-Hawaii game especially meaningful.
Perry, who went to Kahuku High School on Oahu's North Shore, said later he would sooner die than lose to Hawaii on national television, in front of his mom and dad, his brother and his sister and his aunts, uncles, and cousins.

This was personal to Perry and to all of the players from Hawaii on the OSU roster.

Welcome to the Hawaii-Oregon State rivalry.

Following the Beavers

What: Hawaii at Oregon State

When: 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13

Where: Reser Stadium

On the air: TV on FSN NW, radio on KPAM (860)

Bragging rights take on a different meaning when the players are not only familiar with one another, but in some cases know one another's families, too.

"It was bigger than I realized for those kids," Riley said, remembering the wild 35-32 Oregon State win. "The atmosphere that night was just awesome."

When Hawaii (1-1, 0-0 Western Athletic Conference) meets Oregon State (0-2, 0-1 Pacific-10 Conference) on Saturday at Reser Stadium, expect more of the same. It will be the first time the two schools meet on the mainland.

Perry won't be playing -- he's injured -- but he will be on the sidelines, urging his teammates on. There will be extra emotion on both sides.

"It should be a great game," said Hawaii free safety Keao Monteith, who said he and his teammates were looking forward to the 2,683-mile trip. "A high-intensity game."

Must-win, on two levels
It is a rivalry, even though the two schools have played only seven times, including the 1999 Oahu Bowl, when June Jones was the Hawaii coach and Dennis Erickson was at OSU.

Erickson's Ken Simonton-led Beavers made their first postseason appearance in 34 years, losing 23-17. That was the last OSU-Hawaii game until 2006, which Riley counts among the most satisfying wins of his career.

Saturday's game is a must-win for OSU, with No. 1-ranked USC and No. 22 Utah next up on the horizon.

But for the Oregon State players from Hawaii, it is a must-win, times two.

"I ain't flying home if we lose. I don't want to hear about it from everybody over there," said OSU safety Al Afalava, another former Kahuku star.

This is anything but a routine nonconference game. Not when the Beavers have 16 players from Hawaii on their roster, including six from powerhouse Kahuku. Not when four of Riley's assistants have coached at Hawaii, including offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh, who spent six years there.

"I have a lot of friends over there," said Cavanaugh, whose job on the Hawaii staff used to be keeping in-state players on the island and away from the likes of Oregon State.

Monteith -- once a high school classmate of Cavanaugh's son Shane -- was teammates with Oregon State offensive lineman Tavita Thompson at St. Louis High, which lost the 2003 Hawaii state championship game to Perry and Afalava's Kahuku Red Raiders.

There are similar stories on both sides, coaches who have known one another for years, or players who know other players either by direct contact, reputation, or because they know someone in his large family circle.

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