HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Once the University of Hawaii football season begins this fall, grueling practices during the week will become penance paid for the opportunity to play games under the lights on Saturday nights.
With months to go until the season opener, a 35 minute full-contact scrimmage during Saturday's spring practice was plenty enough of a reward.
"Coaches kind of step back a little bit on Saturdays and see where we are with the techniques, if it is clicking, if it's coming in second nature," said junior defensive end David Manoa. "Things are starting to click, starting to understand the coaching. It's more effort than X's and O's."
Playing on the artificial turf of the T.C. Ching athletic complex for the first time this spring, where temperatures tend to run a few degrees warmer than they do on grass, the 'Bows heated things up with plenty of competition of their own.
Coach Nick Rolovich opened practice with a four-on-three competition drill that's become a frequent sight in Manoa during the spring; three offensive players line up to block against three defensive players, with a ball carrier given three chances to travel ten yards within a confined area of the field.
Things turned hotter a few minutes later, when a skirmish between the offense and defense broke out during the middle of a situational red zone drill.
"At the same time, that can build camaraderie, teamwork," said senior running back Steven Lakalaka. "We just gotta keep loving each other, care about the game, just channel that [adrenaline] into focusing on football, focusing on getting better."
Crowds were again abundant during the Saturday session, as high school football coaches from around the state gathered on the field to watch proceedings ahead of a clinic planned for later in the day. Future Hawaii football players Kalakaua Timoteo (WR, Mililani) and Keala Santiago (DB, Kahuku) were also present, as were a handful of recruits who still have at least another high school football season before making a college commitment.
The Rainbow Warriors will return to the practice field on Tuesday.