1982 - 98 Rainbows
(Authentic Reproduction)



After featuring the pride-stimulating Rainbow Warrior as their helmet logo for so many seasons, a change was made in the uniform presentation for 1982. The white helmet was adorned on both sides with a decal featuring an identifying “UH” that had a red, yellow, green, and blue rainbow flowing from the lettering. With the loss of many starters on both sides of the ball, perhaps a 6-5 won-loss mark should have been expected after the great ’81 season, but there was disappointment with the late season swoon and a drop in offensive productivity. QB Bernard Quarles who saw brief NFL action in the ’87 strike year, and RB’s Anthony Edgar and Reggie Young enjoyed the pleasure of having huge Jim Mills ahead of them. A native of Vancouver, BC, the 6’9” Mills returned to Canada after two seasons with the Colts and won every award an offensive lineman can garner. After a star-studded 10 years in his homeland he was inducted into the CFL Hall Of Fame. OG Jesse Sapolu, who had to overcome a heart valve problem as a youngster, would become a dominant player in the NFL leading the O-line of the Super Bowl era Forty-Niners from '83 through 1997. Again the defense was led by NG Falaniko Noga and DT’s Itai Satua and former UCLA starter Mark Tuinei up front. Hawaii couldn’t sign Tuinei after his great high school career as State Shot Put Champion and the Hawaii Prep Lineman Of The Year but he had an immediate impact for the Rainbows when he transferred back to his hometown school. Tuinei was moved to offense when he became part of the great Dallas Cowboy teams of the Troy Aikman-Emmit Smith era, manning the left tackle spot for fifteen years. He tragically died in 1999. A good secondary featured former walk-on Rich Miano and Kent Kafentzis. Mike Akiu, a track athlete transfer from Washington State, distinguished himself by blocking a school record six kicks.
Tomey’s most significant recruit for the ’83 season may have been former Rainbow player June Jones who had finished stints with the Atlanta Falcons and Toronto of the CFL. He was brought in to rejuvenate the offense with a general overhaul of the offensive staff. Despite a 5-5-1 record, the offense was in fact potent. All WAC QB Raphel Cherry proved adept at directing the offense, passed for 2478 yards, and set new school total offense marks before playing three years of DB for the Redskins and Lions. Despite injury, Junior Lopati led the squad in rushing but it was WR Walter Murray’s sub-4.4/40 speed and 44 receptions that opened up the attack. Roughneck Joe Onasai led the O-line with his great power. All WAC DB Rich Miano led a very good secondary that included the Kafentzis brothers and LB Alvis Satele covered a lot of ground.




There was never any doubt that Falaniko “Niko” Noga was physically gifted. He perhaps perpetuated the stereotype of the super strong Samoan, standing 6’2” and 210 pounds while attending Farrington High School. His large family had moved to Hawaii from Samoa and Niko, the third eldest brother of eight, was the State Shotput Champion while also an accomplished 200 meter sprinter. With a physique as chiseled as most competitive bodybuilders, he stayed local and took his power and speed to UH where he had an immediate impact. As a freshman in 1980, he lit up the conference with his play and was All WAC and Honorable Mention All American. Against New Mexico, he recorded three sacks, five tackles for loss, had fifteen total tackles, deflected a pass, forced a fumble and topped it off by blocking both a field goal and an extra point attempt. He repeated his All Conference and Honorable Mention All American honors in ’81 and was named to the Sophomore All American team. A Cardinals draft pick, he played linebacker for both the Cards and Lions in an eight year NFL career and opened the door to both the Hawaii program and the NFL for two of his younger brothers. Pete was also a linebacker, a bit smaller than Niko but tough and fast. He developed into a 2nd Team All WAC pick and like his older brother, also played with the Cardinals. Younger brother Al was more of a big time recruit coming out of Farrington H.S. and like Niko, was an All WAC noseguard. He had a huge 1986 junior season, ringing up thirty-six tackles for loss that included seventeen sacks with six forced fumbles. Al was the Rainbows first AP First Team All American and also the WAC Defensive Player Of The Year. Al finished his UH career as a three-time All Conference performer and went to the Vikings as a third-round draft choice where he remained on their defensive line from 1988 through ’92, finishing his NFL career with a year in Washington and another with the Colts. He later played and coached in the Arena Football League.  Brother George played in the CFL and all have been successful in their post-football endeavors. 


Tomey toned the offense down in ’84 with the expectation that the defense and special teams could control the outcome of most games. Kicker Richard Spelman did in fact lead the WAC in scoring holding up the “special teams” end of Tomey’s equation but the 7-4 record came with a reduction in the offenses of the past few seasons. The tenure of the entire season may have been better if the 13-12 late-fourth quarter lead would have held up against eventual National Champion Brigham Young. Cherry again was at the QB controls, running and passing with equal effectiveness. For the third consecutive season, speedster WR Walter Murray topped the UH receivers and despite a broken leg part way through the season, Junior Lopati paced the ground game. Big Joe Onasai, a future Honorable Mention All American, Dallas Cowboy draftee, powerlifting champion, strongman contest competitor, film actor, and church pastor led the O-line. DB Miano effectively roamed the secondary with Kyle Kafenzis, before spending eleven years in the NFL with the Jets, Eagles, and Falcons. He eventually became the DB coach for UH, while LB Alvis Satele, a 2nd Team All WAC choice covered a lot of ground. Satele played with the Chargers and in the CFL before seeing two sons follow him through the UH football program.

Tomey stayed through the ’87 season before returning to Arizona where he had success and remained on the coaching sidelines through the 2009 season, leading San Jose State back to respectability. In the early 2000’s, between assistant coaching stops with the Forty Niners and the University of Texas, Tomey, always a well-liked figure on the Islands, served as an announcer for UH football games. Tomey’s coaching legacy will remain strong as he has developed thirty-five assistants who remain in the NFL or on the college sidelines as assistant or head coaches, including Fresno State’s Pat Hill. His defensive coordinator Bob Wagner headed the program for nine seasons that included highs, lows, and three wins over Conference rival Brigham Young. Fred vonAppen, a former Bill Walsh assistant, had a difficult three season between ’96 and 1998 but with the arrival of former player and assistant coach June Jones, the turnaround was immediate and rather spectacular. From 1999 until his departure after the 2007 season, Jones placed some of the most exciting teams in the nation onto the field, brought the Hawaii program to national prominence, and produced a series of record-setting quarterbacks including Colt Brennan who is considered by many to be the best of the Rainbows’ all time players. The 2007 team set a high water mark, winning the WAC title and going undefeated in a tremendously exciting 12-0 season. Leaving for SMU in 2008, Jones handed the reins to his defensive coordinator Greg McMackin who no doubt will continue the string of success UH has established. The growth of the University Of Hawaii program has been one of the more remarkable in the annals of the NCAA. The geographical isolation, lack of funding, difficulty in recruiting, travel restrictions, and a host of other obstacles that mainland schools did not have to overcome has made the rise and development of the program, the facilities, and the highly respected reputation built over the past decade, one of most rewarding in college football annals.  A sincere special thanks to Derek Inouchi, Media Relations Director of the University of Hawaii.  Due to the huge time difference, we were able to work on this project 24 hours a day.

If interested in any of these Hawaii helmets please click on the photos below.