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Warriors take longest trip east in team history

Updated: 
August 24, 2017 - 12:05am

After a run of 23 practices over 27 days in Manoa, the Hawaii football team embarked Tuesday on the eastern-most venture in program history.

The Rainbow Warriors completed on-campus preparations in advance of Saturday’s opener at UMass with a morning practice at the Ching Complex before boarding an afternoon flight to New York.

After visiting the 9/11 memorial on Wednesday, the team is heading to Springfield, Mass., which will be the ‘Bowsbase for the rest of the week. When the Warriors arrive in Amherst for Saturday’s game, they’ll have covered 5,006 miles, according to UH’s weekly release, surpassing the 2010 trip to Army in West Point, NY.

“We’re ready to go on this adventure,” said running back Diocemy Saint Juste, a senior from Florida.

“For me personally it’s not that hard because I’m from the East Coast so I’m kind of used to it. But I think we’ll be able to cope with it really fine.”

While the trip will take the Warriors clear across the country, the UH returnees have experience in dealing with lengthy travel after opening last season with back-to-back trips to Australia and Michigan.

“It’s nothing new,” junior quarterback Dru Brown said. “You’re going to have the same issues, but you know how to deal with them. But you can’t replace experience and we traveled a lot last year, so that’ll help.”

UH coach Nick Rolovich said the Michigan trip “probably helped us as a coaching staff more, just learning what we did wrong in preparation.”

“The trip to Michigan was the one where we really saw the effect on our players,” Rolovich said. “So we’ll take a little bit of a different approach.”

The UH coaches assembled a travel roster of 70 players, with special teams factoring into the final list.

“You pretty much knew who your ones and twos were for the most part and then you look at who’s going to contribute on special teams,” Rolovich said.

“It gives those guys a role, it gives those guys a goal. The guys who maybe aren’t in the two-deep, but if they excel on special teams, they may get taken over somebody else.”

In reviewing the run-up to the trip since the start of camp on July 27, Rolovich praised the Warriors’ maturity in their preparations.

“I’m appreciative of the way they’ve practiced as far as keeping guys up, staying healthy, while still sharpening each other’s skills,” Rolovich said. “Just a completely different mind-set from last fall camp by the entire team and I think that’s a positive sign what this program is striving for. It’s a good step in the right direction.”

The place-kicking spots were still listed with an “or” on this week’s depth chart, as sophomores Ryan Meskell and Alex Trifonovich both made the trip.

“They excel at different things, so we’re probably going to need both of them to play,” Rolovich said.

Special teams coordinator Mayur Chaudhari said Meskell will handle kickoffs and “we’re just trying to work out the field goal and PAT situation right now.

“Both have made big improvements the last couple weeks. So I think the competition has been really good for both of them. They’ve both elevated their play,” Chaudhari said.

“I’ll try to let them know the day before. You want them to be able to get their mind right — I’m not trying to ambush them. I want them to be in the best state possible to be successful.”

Saturday’s game will mark the football debut for Meskell, who played soccer and rugby in Australia and was on the soccer team at Lewis &Clark Community College before enrolling at UH.

“We had some situations where we’ve tried to replicate things (at practice) and trying to make it like a game situation,” Meskell said. “Nerves kick in, but once you get out there you’ve just got to zone in and just focus on the process and follow through on your kick.”

Already well-traveled, Meskell said going to the East Coast “will be cool to see that part of the world.”

With the educational opportunities of the trip in mind, Rolovich included a visit to the World Trade Center site in the itinerary during Wednesday’s stop in New York.

“It’s good for their college experience, it’s good for their young lives,” Rolovich said. “It’s an important part of my life history and I felt like it was a no-brainer.”

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