By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
EULESS, Texas — Noting a sign welcoming "the University of Hawai'i football team" in the lobby of the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Marriott here yesterday, a guest asked, "are they playing somebody here?"
Advised that UH would be playing Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La., some 250 miles away, tonight, he shook his head.
The reason for the 34-hour stopover made more sense, however, when you saw where the Warriors practiced Monday and Tuesday: nearby Trinity (Texas) High School.
The Trojans, who won the Texas state large school championship in 2005 and '07, have a large Polynesian, mostly Tongan, enrollment, including some players with family ties in Hawai'i.
"We wanted to build a relationship here," UH head coach Greg McMackin said after yesterday's practice. "This is the biggest Polynesian school in Texas and it is right by the airport so you can fly in and get in and out easily."
Trinity is in Euless, a town of about 60,000, including many families who are employed at the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
McMackin said he predicates much of UH's Mainland recruiting, particularly when it is beyond the West Coast, "on whether there is some sort of a Hawai'i tie; a reason for them to come to us." At Trinity, McMackin said, "a lot of players have family in Hawai'i. Inoke (Funaki, UH back) has relatives here."
Trinity practices the haka and some of its players were familiar with UH and its schedule. The Warriors' arrival produced a turnout of approximately 100 students, including some from the nearby junior high yesterday.