Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Robert Gagliardi
WyoSports 

Defensive ends leave lasting legacy for Pokes

 

November 25, 2015

Courtesy/WyoSports

Siaosi Hala'api'api Wyoming Cowboys senior defensive end

LARAMIE – One is from Hawaii, while the other hails just down the road a bit in Denver.

They began their careers playing different positions.

Now, they are defensive ends, team captains and close friends. And as seniors, they play their final game with the University of Wyoming football team when it hosts UNLV in the season-finale for both squads at noon Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Siaosi Hala'api'api and Eddie Yarbrough may have come from different parts of the country, and different backgrounds. However, they have emerged as two of the more prominent, well-known and well-liked players for the Cowboys.

On the field, Yarbrough is a two-time First Team All-Mountain West pick. He is on his way to a third straight honor as he leads all MW defensive linemen with 5.2 tackles per game and is fifth with six quarterback sacks. Yarbrough is UW's career leader with 37 tackles for loss, and is ninth with 20.5 sacks.

Hala'api'api has 120 career tackles, and moved from linebacker to defensive end as a sophomore.

"Since I moved over to defensive end, Eddie's been one I've looked up to and go to for help," Hala'api'api said.

Hala'api'api said he was "awkward" when he came to UW because he didn't speak English as well as he does now. He was more comfortable with his Hawaiian Pidgin language. Hala'api'api' came off as shy and quiet to a lot of his teammates and those who tried to get to know him.

Yarbrough is the total opposite. He's outgoing, charismatic and is always smiling. Yarbrough's personality and overall outlook on life quickly rubbed off on Hala'api'api.

"The last two years he's been more talkative but even before that, when he talked people listened," Yarbrough said. "Over time we've seen people come and go, but we've stuck together. We've bonded and banded together even more through time."

Both are among eight seniors on UW's roster. Yarbrough and center Rafe Kiely are the only two fifth-year seniors on the roster. Hala'api'api and running back Shaun Wick (out this week with a concussion) are the only fourth-year seniors who played as true freshmen.

Their impact at UW goes beyond the field or their statistics.

"They've made me a better person and a better coach by the type of men they are," UW defensive ends coach AJ Cooper said. "The way they come to work. The way they handle their business. The way they've let myself and this staff (in its second year) come into their lives and build trust with us.

"I told them I hope this goes beyond football as far as our relationship. Saturday is going to be hard. I'm going to be crying like a baby, and I really want to send those guys out on the right note."

Coach Craig Bohl said numerous times this season how impressed he's been with both in terms of their play, but more importantly, their leadership on a team that is 1-10 and with a roster consisting of nearly 60 percent true or redshirt freshmen.

It would be easy for older players to just want this season to end and move on with their lives, however, that hasn't been what these two guys have done.

"They come out every day with fire, are always smiling and always picking us up to go harder," true freshman free safety Andrew Wingard said, who starts and is second in the MW with 123 tackles.

"Their positivity at any point and time is the biggest think I've learned from them. They're always glass-half-full guys, and always are looking to pick guys up."

Added Cooper: "We're going to look back two or three years from now when we're having great results and the catalysts will be these guys and how they've have handled this group. It's easy to be a leader when all is going well. True character in guys come out now in a situation like ours this season."

Hala'api'api learned to be more outgoing by being around Yarbrough. And, Yarbrough learned to play the ukulele from his Hawaiian friend, and also to further embrace the importance of family.

They get one last chance to play on the same field together Saturday, and the goal is simple.

"Put it on the line and have some fun," Hala'api'api said.

 
 

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