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Thursday, August 27, 2009

UH's Lefiti snaps to it

It is not easy to substitute for the Western Athletic Conference's best football center.

It is even more difficult to do so with a fractured middle finger on your dominant hand.

But Matagisila Lefiti bites his mouthpiece and practices without complaint or decrease in intensity.

"It's tough," he said of shotgun-snapping with a fracture in his right hand, "but you have to get it done."

Lefiti is filling in for All-America candidate John Estes, who suffered a deep bruise on his left shin near the end of Tuesday's practice.

"I got leg-whipped by somebody," Estes said. "It's really tender. It'll be OK. Luckily, it's only a bruise."

Estes expects to resume practicing Sunday. The Warriors practice at Aloha Stadium this evening, and from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. tomorrow at UH's grass practice field. No practice is scheduled for Saturday.

Estes served as a tutor to Lefiti and Bronson Tiwanak yesterday.

"They're doing a good job," Estes said. "They're getting reps with the No. 1s. It's football. Anybody can go down at any moment. You have to be ready."

Lefiti is a third-year sophomore from Mater Dei, a football power in Southern California.

He met the NCAA requirements to play as a freshman in 2007, but fell short of UH's standards. After June Jones, who was UH head coach at the time, pledged his support of Lefiti, he was allowed to enroll at UH under probationary status. The terms called for Lefiti to not play football in 2007 while earning at least a 3.0 grade-point average for the fall semester.

"I took care of that," Lefiti said, noting his academic status is now "fine and dandy."

He also has progressed in his field work. In training camp, he has practiced at center, right guard and left guard.

But during the recently completed 2 1/2-week training camp, he suffered a fracture to his middle finger. For every practice, he wraps the finger with medical tape. He has not experienced any problems with his snaps or blocks.

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