Monday’s decision by the Mountain West Conference to postpone the fall sports schedule rocked the University of Hawaii football program, as the Rainbow Warriors won’t hit the field until January 2021 at the earliest.
For Rainbow Warriors senior defensive back Eugene Ford, although extremely disappointed that he won’t be running out of the tunnel at Aloha Stadium next month, he supports the decision that was made and hopes that the extra time will create safe measures and protocols to be put into place.
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“Right now, there is question as far as how are we going to be ensured any safety or well-being in matters to as far as what are we going to be following by. So as far as us as a team, like, how are we going to be traveling through areas where maybe it’s unsafe, so just giving us more time to plan out those things I believe it was helpful to postpone it,” Ford said in an interview distributed by the Hawaii Athletics program on Wednesday.”We do want to play, we are eager to play, but we kind of got to take care of things as far as being safe.”
As a junior in 2019, Ford, a Los Angeles native, played in all 15 games with nine starts seeing time at both safety and nickelback. He ranked fifth on the team in tackles with 55, while also recording two sacks, four pass break-ups, and one forced fumble. His most recent game played for UH was in a Hawaii Bowl victory over BYU, where he logged seven tackles, providing a spark in an offseason which makes for a heartbreaking reality that there will be no football games in the coming months.
“This is the time of football. Fall is football. For us, as far as that’s what we came here to do. We came here to play football and get an education and that being pushed back is kind of like telling us, no you can’t play,” Ford said. “That’s like taking candy from a baby. He’s going to whine until he gets what he wants and we wanted to play in August or September or whenever it was, so it kind of like we were so eager because we trained hard. We trained very hard and that’s been all pushed back.”
For the time being, UH athletics director David Matlin and head coach Todd Graham acknowledged on Monday that the team does intend to keep team activities going, following all health and safety guidelines that were in place prior to the postponement. However, this current week will be used to figure out what the schedule will be for the team.
“Right now we’re just looking for our next step and knowing that it’s safe to go back to training,” he said.. “We’re waiting on the final decisions to be made as far as the schedule coming out and what we’re going to be doing as far as training and getting back to it, so that’s what we’re looking forward to at this point right now.”
For both his teammates and fans, Ford had a simple message as he and many others hope for an opportunity to play a season in the spring.
“Stay ready. I know we were all looking forward to playing this (fall), but what we got in store is exciting to see, and I can’t wait to see all the fans come out and support and cheer us on as we take our wins,” he said.
According to the Mountain West Conference, spring football will be considered if the conference and medical experts determine that it can be done in a safe manner.