Beavers Conduct Practice and Prepare for the Players' Challenge

Dec. 27, 2008

It snowed last night.  We’re not talking about Bend or Portland, or any other town in the Pacific Northwest.  We’re talking about El Paso, Texas.  Didn’t we just leave that for “Sun City?” 

To be fair, as the natives here always say – “it will blow through.”  And it has.  Today we are greeted to brilliantly sunny day, but it’s cold and windy, but not nearly as windy as yesterday’s sandstorm at Canutillo High School.  The temperature is 45 degrees at practice today, that’s the bad news.  The good news is the latest forecast has the temps gradually rising with game day predicted for 64 degrees.  But remember, we are at 3,700 feet here, which is deceptive when you look at the terrain.

Prior to practice 15 players visited the Providence Memorial Hospital near the UTEP campus.  The players were joined by six members of the Sun Court and some local media.  The players seemed to enjoy their experience at the Children’s Ward, where they delivered Beaver football t-shirts and hats, and signed autographs.

“It’s  a great opportunity to give back to the community,” redshirt freshman Rory Ross said. “The visit was a lot of fun, we had a really good time with the kids.”

Last night was the first time the Beavers and Pitt Panthers had a chance to interact with each other.  The annual Sunland Park Barbecue is a meat-eaters delight.  Approximately 400 players, coaches, Sun Bowl staffers and others feasted on ribs, chicken, brisket, sausage and other delectables.  Then it was the annual talent show competition for both teams.  The Beavers were represented by the Polynesian players and the annual Haka dance, which was once again a big hit with the crowd.  Taylor Kavanaugh sang a Jack Johnson son and Kameron Krebs a Green Day piece.  Members of the Panthers did comedy act and an impressive martial arts performance.

Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas selects the winner of the competition, but waits to announce it until following the game – the victorious bowl team always seems to win the talent competition.  Hmm…

An interested onlooker at today’s practice was Osia Lewis.  You may remember Lewis as a standout linebacker at OSU in the mid-80s.  He’s now the defensive coordinator for UTEP for Miners’ head coach Mike Price, who also visited today.  Lewis, who also served five years as defensive coordinator at New Mexico, is having surgery to replace a knee early next week.  He credits the need for surgery to “that old Parker Stadium turf.” 

As for practice, the team actually did get a chance to work on special teams today after the wind made it impossible yesterday.  The day brought more good news as tight end Joe Halahuni participated in more repetitions than yesterday and defensive tackle Mitchel Hunt also returned to the field. Stephen Paea, who is expected to play on Wednesday, did not suit up, but did receive a work out from head athletic trainer Barney Graff.

Media contingent today included the El Paso Times, The Oregonian, Register-Guard, Gazette-Times and a local television affiliate.  Kurt Richter of KEZI-9 in Eugene will have clips on Beaver Nation Online later tonight from practice and from the Player’s Challenge at Adventure Zone, which includes go-kart racing, batting cages, video games and miniature golf.  You can also see Richter’s clips tonight on KEZI.




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