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Friday, September 25, 2009

Pacific taps football pipeline in Hawaii

Division III Oregon school hopes strong Island ties help in reviving program

By Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer

Armed with a GPS, football coach Keith Buckley is hitting the recruiting trail an ocean and thousands of miles away from his Oregon campus.

He's ventured into the North Shore to visit Kahuku High School and drove up the hills and through the gates of Kamehameha Schools. There's been stops at Punahou, Saint Louis, and a dozen public and private schools. By the time Buckley leaves Honolulu on Sunday, he hopes to have seen 10 games this weekend and hopes players will have an inkling they can play at the next level.

Next fall, Pacific University, an NCAA Division III school located in Forest Grove, Ore., will field its first football team since 1991. It'll be the 100th year of football at the small, liberal arts school located outside of Portland. The football program and the school has a deep history with Hawai'i students, who have been a strong presence on campus, and currently make up 25 percent of the student population.

To revive and build his program, it only seemed only appropriate for Buckley to start recruiting at "home."

"As I got to know Pacific University through the interview process and ultimately accepting the job, it was clear there is a strong tradition of Hawaiian Island kids going to Pacific University," Buckley said. "There's a tremendous support mechanism on campus to allow students to succeed there and thrive there and come out of college prepared to enter the real world.

"It's been such a long tradition at Pacific, it was natural to make this the first stop."

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