Weber State receiver Cody Nakamura, a native Hawaiian, always dreamed of playing college football at Aloha Stadium, the home of the Hawaii Warriors.
His dreams didn't come true when the University of Hawaii ignored him during his high school playing career. But he will get a chance to play at Aloha Stadium as will eight other Hawaiians on Weber State's roster when the Wildcats face the Warriors tonight.
"I'm pretty excited about it," Nakamura said. "I really want to win. I'm going over there for business. I'm not going over there for a little party or anything like that, a vacation. I really want to beat on them a little bit."
It's safe to say that the rest of the Hawaiian Wildcats feel the same way. Quarterback Cameron Higgins played all of his home high school games at Aloha Stadium while he was a student at St. Louis High, so he'll be quite familiar with his surroundings in tonight's game. Watching him play for the Wildcats, it's hard to understand why the Warriors didn't recruit him very seriously.
Higgins doesn't hold any grudges against the Warriors, though.
"I kind of wanted to go there, but I really just wanted to go where ever I could get a scholarship take some of the financial troubles off my parents," Higgins said. "I ended up here (at WSU) and luckily we're playing them, so it worked out. It will be a great homecoming and it should be a fun experience."
Coach Ron McBride said tonight's game was agreed upon in "December or January." He admits that playing Hawaii will be a tall order, but the overall experience will be worth it for his players.
"When we took the game, it wasn't an ideal game for us to take," McBride said. "All the pluses outweigh the minuses. Before I'm done here, I want the players to have the opportunity to see what's over there and see the beauty of it, and to have a chance to do something they wouldn't ordinarily get the chance to do."
Although Hawaii has to replace plenty of starters from the team that played in the Sugar Bowl last season, and the Warriors have a new head coach and were destroyed by Florida 56-10 last week, they are still expected to have their way with the Wildcats tonight. The Warriors will be dying to get the taste of last week's loss to the Gators out of their mouths, and get things rolling against a Football Championship Subdivision team.
"They're a tough team, even tougher at home, they don't lose at home," McBride said. "They beat the best teams in the country over there, it doesn't matter who it is. It will be a tough game for us. I know that. We'll get a chance to see how mature we are. It will be interesting."
The players are confident they can pull an Appalachian State an FCS team beating a Football Bowl Subdivision team and win this game.
"They're the same size, the same quickness, the same speed," Nakamura. "It's all mental. If we do the things we're supposed to like any other game, we should win. I'm excited. I can't wait. I'm losing sleep."
Aloha Stadium should have a strong Weber State presence tonight. Higgins' father bought about 50 tickets to the game. Nakamura said his friends are bugging him for Weber State T-shirts so that they can "represent Weber State instead of Hawaii."Hawaii has some local ties on its roster. Former Davis High punter Tim Grasso kicks for the Warriors. Former Weber State offensive line coach Alex Gerke is Hawaii's running backs/offensive line coach.
The Hawaiian Wildcats: Nine Weber State players will have a homecoming when the Wildcats play against Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.
Player Pos. HometownRyan Eastman DT HonoluluEki Faagai LB KanehoeChristian Gibson DT KauluaCameron Higgins QB HonoluluZach Higgins S HonoluluMike Hoke QB KailuaKamana Kaimikaua WR Hawaii KaiLawaia Naihe OG AnaholaCody Nakamura WR Wailuku
Weber State (1-0) at Hawaii (0-1)
Tonight at 10:05 p.m.
TV: KJZZRadio: 1430 AM