For some Rainbow Warrior football players, tomorrow’s game against BYU is a rivalry game with a rich history behind it. But for others, it’s so much more than just a rivalry game.
Saturday afternoon at Aloha Stadium is senior night, the last opportunity for the majority of Hawaii’s seniors to play in a competitive football game. Despite the season not turning out the way the team hoped it would at the beginning of the season, with some chatter of a possible conference championship floating around, the Warriors have an opportunity to end their season on a high note, which goes a long way for the players, coaches and offseason preparations.
“We won our last few last year and it was a very happy offseason. We always want to end things right for the seniors and momentum going into recruiting and getting into workouts and things like that,” said head coach Nick Rolovich. "I think the fans who have continuously come to the stadium and followed us, to give them a win on senior night against BYU may be the most important for what they’ve done for us.”
Defending “Pride Rock” has been the motto for the program since Rolovich took over as head coach. And giving his senior class a victory over the program’s biggest rival is the best senior sendoff Rolovich can give.
“It would be a big deal for us,” said senior wide receiver Keelan Ewaliko. “The season hasn’t gone the way we hoped and there’s been a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but to just end the season off with a win and send the boys off on a good note into next year, it’s a big deal for us. And to win on senior night is just so important. We have a thing like we never lose on senior night so that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Coming off a 38-0 shutout loss to Utah State, spirits have been dampened. But seeing as its the final week of practice, the players have shown up with the same fighting spirit that they showed back in Spring ball.
“I think they enjoyed coming out and being together,” Rolovich said. “And even after getting beat so bad, they’re still guys who enjoy practicing. That’s a good sign, it just hasn’t translated to the field the last few weeks.”
As for senior defensive lineman David Manoa, his final college game will be a defining moment for him, win or lose.
“You always remember the last one,” he said. “As a senior class, we just want to end things off on the right note. But yeah this is our last one so it’s personal, There’s a lot of emotion going on.”
Ewaliko, however, knows exactly how he wants his last collegiate football game to end: With a kickoff/punt return for a touchdown.
“We haven’t had one yet, and I’m dying to get one,” he said. “So if I can do that, get a couple, it would be super awesome to just go out with that.”
Senior night between Hawaii vs. BYU takes place tomorrow afternoon at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. HT.
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