Thursday, May 24, 2018

How the Hawaii-Linfield football pipeline started

Thanks to Dennis Anderson for researching/writing this in 1986 and to Scott Seina for posting it at Facebook May 24, 2018.

Dec 21, 1986
The Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser,
Section C, Page 97

Stories compiled by Dennis Anderson, Advertiser staff writer

Isle preps discover Northwest trail

Hawaiian punch helps Linfield win championships 

McMINNVILLE. Ore. — Three national championships in the last five years.

Thirty-one consecutive winning seasons.

Seven unbeaten regular seasons in the last 13 years.

Ranked among its division's top 20 teams for 15 years in a row.

It is arguably the best small-college football program in America and there is a strong thread of Hawaii contributions running all through its fabric.

Linfield College shut out Baker University of Kansas, 17-0, last Saturday to cap another 12-0 season with another NAIA Division II football championship.

Seven players from Hawaii played in the championship game. There were a total of 20 Hawaii players on the 1986 roster.

Last season there were 22. Every season since the late-1950s Hawaii players have made key contributions at Linfield and Linfield hasn't been under .500 since.

Why Hawaii?

Why Linfield?

Doug Hire of Waipahu, a 260-pound senior offensive guard who Thursday was named first team NAIA-II All-America, provides insight to why Hawaii players choose Linfield.

“I knew I was good, but Pearl City High didn't have a good record when I was there so I was not recognized. I only received one recruiting letter, from a JC in Arizona. So I wrote to Linfield, Willamette and Drake. 

“Coach Rutschman (Ad Rutschman, Linfield coach the past 19 seasons) came to see me. He was the first person to show interest. I knew the academics at Linfield had a good reputation and I wanted to play for a winning program.

"It's lived up to all my expectations.”

Hire has started on teams that won 32 of 34 games over the past three years and won two national championships.

He's attracted attention from the NFL, especially for his pass blocking, and could have his own highlight tape of lead blocks on sweeps. One that set up the last touchdown was the most memorable play of this year’s title game.

Hire expects to receive a degree in education in June.

Other starters from Hawaii on this year's team have been Jody Tyrell, a 6-1, 215-pound senior linebacker, and Chris Kelly, a 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore defensive end. Both graduated from Moanalua, another Hawaii high school that plays most of its games in obscurity.

Aundre Pace, sophomore from Radford High, was an alternate starter at tailback with a season average of 5.1 yards per carry.

Also on the 48-player playoff squad were Bryant Anderson, sophomore defensive end from Pac-Five (Maryknoll) who started on, three special teams and made two key plays in the semifinal and championship games; James Hiu, sophomore from Roosevelt who was the No. 1 backup behind two all-conference seniors at linebacker; and Miller Atagi, freshman center from Waialua whom Coach Rutschman expects to be "a great one" in the future.

Tyrell was chosen to the Southern Division, Columbia Football League first all-star team at linebacker. His season totals were 92 tackles, including nine for losses, 10 quarterback sacks, three opponents' fumbles recovered and two passes intercepted.

Tyrell is the first cousin of former Leilehua standouts Junior and Ulysses Tyrell, both of whom played at California junior colleges this year. Jody expects to receive a degree in systems analysis in June.

The coaching staff includes two former Hawaii and Linfield players. Wes Suan (Waialua High) has coached running backs at Linfield since 1979 and is in charge of recruiting Hawaii.

Jose Guevara, a 310-pound all-conference offensive tackle who completed his eligibility last season, assisted with offensive linemen this year while completing work on a fine arts degree. In the process he picked up his third championship ring.


Why Hawaii?

A physics teacher and dorm supervisor at lolani named Arthur Robinson inadvertently started the Hawaii-Linfield pipeline in 1958.

He took two lolani football players to Oregon on spring break to look at small colleges.

They liked Linfield best and sold three teammates on the idea when they returned.

Those five pioneers were Hugh Yoshida, Kenny Ling, Willie Chang, Jimmy Tan and Tyrone Kuhns.

Yoshida became a second-team NAIA All-America linebacker in 1961 on the first Linfield team to play for the national championship. Today he is one of the most successful and most respected high-school football coaches in Hawaii, at Leilehua, with the 1984 Prep Bowl championship to his credit.

When then-Linfield coach Paul Durham saw what Hawaii players could do for his team, he made it a point of recruiting at least one week a year in the Islands.

Durham won 122 games and seven Northwest Conference championships in 20 years. He never had a losing season after he started recruiting Hawaii players.

He never had a losing season after he started recruiting Hawaii players.

“We attracted a lot of players who felt they were a little too small for the big colleges," Durham recalls. "But by their junior and senior years, judging by the interest pro teams showed, many of them were big enough."

In 1967, Durham brought his Linfield team to Honolulu Stadium and upset the University of Hawaii, 15-13, in the rain with the help of two long, fourth-quarter quick kicks by Rogers Ishizu of Maui.

The next year UH hired Durham to be athletic director of the Manoa campus.

The Linfield-UH series continued for five more years and while little Linfield did not win again, Hawaii high school players and their parents liked what they saw and the Hawaii-Linfield connection flourished.

Durham is now retired and living in Honolulu. 

He was succeeded as Linfield coach by Rutschman, who was won 150 games and never had a losing season in 19 years. 

Rutschman spends two weeks every January in Hawaii, visiting with former , players and recruiting future ones.

“No matter how big or how small,” he says. “I’ve never had a player from Hawaii who wasn’t a hitter.”

Linfield’s best from Hawaii

“At every position," says 19-year Linfield football coach Ad Rutschman, "the best or one of the best players I've ever coached has been from Hawaii." 

With apologies to anyone he omitted, Rutschman recited these names of past Linfield standouts from the Islands, by position: 

Offensive guard — Tim Bowman, Mike Hirakawa, Doug Hire ("maybe the best," first-team NAIA All-America candidate this season), Wise Nicola, Joe Soong.

Offensive tackle — Charles Carveiro, Joe Gueverra, Ed Kama (first-team NAIA All-America, 1980), Henry Mahi.

Offensive line — Henry Cook.

Tight end — Bernie Peterson (second-team NAIA and third-team Associated Press Little All America, 1973, first-team Kodak All-America 1972), Keith Machida (second-team NAIA All-America 1985).

Receiver — Rogers Ishizu, John Sadowski.

Quarterback — Marco Minn, Pat Silva.

Running back — Mike Ah Chong, Danny Crowell (later transferred to Hawaii), Dino Gipaya, Robert John Heukalani, Scott Mosher, Dan Paulino, Wes Suan.

Wingback — Jeff Akamine.

Nose guard — Bob Feliciano (later changed his name to Bob Miles), Gordon Pang.

Defensive end — Larry Akana, Henry Coelho, Arthur Trout.

Linebacker — Jody Tyrell (NAIA All-America candidate this year), Les Ueki, Roy Umeno.

Defensive back — Eric Au ("would have been great but was injured"), Paul Dombroski ("maybe the best," first-team NAIA and Kodak. All-Americas 1978, played six seasons in the NFL with Kansas City and New England), Mike Kincaid, Bryan Miyamoto, Donald Ng, Wesley Park, Wendell Say ("one of the smallest, a tiger on special teams"), Billy Yamamoto. 

Photo cutline:
Hawaii’s 20 contributions to Linfield College’s unbeaten 1986 football team:

Front row, Brad Johnson, Aundre Pace, Jon Kobayashi, Dan Ahuna III, Hugh Dunn, Gregg Yoshimura.

Second row, Damien Seina, Chris Kelly, Charvis Bush, Paki Morgado. Peter Ranta, Ross Kauihou, Bryant Anderson, Warren Albert.

Back row, Tom Lacey. Miller Atagi, Jody Tyrell, Doug Hire, James Hiu, Jeff Coelho.