August 13, 2009

Intensity builds as team awaits full contact

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It seems that with every practice, a different position group steps up their
intensity. Today was no exception. As soon as I stepped foot out of Dixon Rec
Center to make my way over to the practice field, I had an idea of which group
it would be today, as I could hear Coach Newhouse yelling at his guys.

It was evident that linebacker Coach Greg Newhouse wanted his core of linebackers
to step up their game, and do it now. Outside of his 4 already proven commodities,
Keith Pankey, Dwight Roberson, David Pa'aluhi, and team captain, Keaton Kristick,
there are a lot of raw, young and unproven players. Coach Newhouse and the rest
of the coaching staff are searching to see who will seize the opportunity created
by the loss of Tony Wilson to a season ending knee injury, to secure one of
the back-up positions.

Today we looked at the linebackers. Currently the only two positions that are
set in stone are Keaton Kristick at an OLB spot and David Pa'aluhi at MLB. The
other OLB spot is one of the many position battles that are taking place during
this fall camp between returning starter Keith Pankey and Dwight Roberson, who
actually outperformed Pankey last season as they split time at the position.

Behind that group is where things start to get a bit cloudy as Wilson was slated
to be the back-up MLB and last year's back-ups at OLB, Isaiah Cook and Dennis
Christopher, graduated. That gives a lot of young players the opportunity to
see the field. The players competing for the OLB spots are Zane Norris, Keo Camat, Devin Unga, Kameron Krebs, and Kevin Unga. The MLB spot is between junior,
Walker Vave, and true freshman, Rueben Robinson.

Observing the linebackers, a couple things stood out. While Kristick was named
a team captain, he isn't necessarily the vocal leader of the group. Instead
he is often the guy on the field that is just having fun playing the game that
he loves. Numerous times today he would make the 'tackle', remember no pads
today, and then start laughing, as if to say I wish I could be lighting guys
up right now! He definitely leads by example with how he conducts himself both
on and off the field. He was in the all the right spots to make the plays that
came his way.

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