HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Despite starting the 2018 season red hot, the Warriors have slipped into a mid-season funk.
The team has lost their last four-consecutive games but adversity for this football team is nothing new. Obstacles and challenges often arrive in a season that takes up the better part of the entire calendar year.
The term “must win” is often thrown around in sports, albeit sometimes unnecessarily. But with just two regular season games remaining on the schedule the opportunity for a Hawaii bowl birth is slowly dimming.
Head coach Nick Rolovich and his players are well aware of what’s at stake against ninth island rival UNLV this weekend.
“They know what it’s about,” Rolovich said. “I thought we had a productive bye week, but they know were playing for pineapples and bowl games."
Hawaii and UNLV will play for the Island Showdown Trophy, which debuted last season.
The Warriors will be well rested ahead of the game. The team is coming off a bye week and it’s first weekend without a game this whole season.
Senior defensive lineman Zeno Choi said the defense spent much of the week preparing for the Runnin' Rebels physical offense.
“We had a bye week to prepare for them,” Choi said. “Defensively we know what type of offense they are, they’re tough, we have been focusing on stopping the run.”
Choi, along with fellow senior Marcus Armstrong-Brown, is well aware that losses in the final two regular season games will remove them from bowl contention.
With the added incentive to keep their season alive Armstrong-Brown has noticed a drastic change in his teammates ahead of the matchup against UNLV.
“A lot of players stuck around after practice,” Armstrong-Brown said. “I could tell at that point it was more serious then it had been at any other point this season.”
A win against the Runnin' Rebels wouldn’t just make the Warriors bowl eligible, but would also give them their first winning season since 2010.
Kickoff between the Warriors and UNLV is slated for 6:00 p.m. at Aloha stadium.