Impressive numbers – and there were a LOT of numbers
By Paul Honda
Sunday, April 14, 2002
HONOLULU – It's only fitting, with tax deadline day only hours away, that the Spring Football Challenge boiled down to numbers.
The University of Hawaii football team will pare down 20 players – 12 on the defensive side – now that spring practice is over. Sunday night's Challenge, which drew about 2,500 fans to Cooke Field on a clear, warm night, is going to play a pivotal role in the futures of many a Warrior.
For now, fans got their money's worth with a full four hours of games, contests, full-padded scrimmage and a concert by Henry Kapono and Na Leo Pilimehana.
The numbers were startling, and not just because of the scoring format instituted by head coach June Jones. The offense won the challenge, 66-35, in a format that had a variety of ways to score points. A rushing gain of at least four yards, for example, was worth 2 points. A touchdown equaled 7 points, but an interception was worth 25 points for the defense.
The offense made few passing miscues in the 50-play scrimmage. Shawn Withy-Allen, Jason Whieldon and Jeff Rhode combined for 18-of-23 passing for 314 yards and two touchdowns. They threw no interceptions, though one apparent pick was nullified by a penalty.
The playing format was simple, with each play beginning at the defense's 45-yard line. Whieldon's connection to Justin Colbert was the first completion and first catch for the two. The seamless strike to Colbert on a deep post route brought life to the gathering at Cooke Field, and they hungered for more.
Despite the high completion rate, sacks – 12 in all – kept the offense from gaining momentum. Note, however, that a sack didn't require any real, punishing contact. The slightest touch of a passer signaled a sack, and that kept some fans thirsting for more levity. On a night when no injuries occurred, it was an irritation worth bearing.
The offense didn't score again until Jeff Rhode, the redshirt freshman from Oregon, entered on the 36th play of the scrimmage (not including three plays wiped out by penalties). Like Whieldon, Rhode's first completion was a 45-yard touchdown pass. The catch was made by surprise standout Kanale George, who pulled in his fourth and final reception of the night.
The play, made in a 1-on-1 situation on a fly pattern, included some pre-catch contact with cornerback Josiah Cravalho, a sophomore from Maui's Kaahumanu Hou School. George, a former Saint Louis School player, finished with 108 receiving yards.
Former Leilehua running back John West capped off a strong spring with a good showing Sunday. The Yuba College transfer rushed four times for