Solid senior

Mesa linebacker Koa Asing playing well in his final season

Colorado Mesa senior linebacker Koa Asing, center, is making the most of his final season, with 32 tackles — including four for a loss.



QUICKREAD

No. 1 CSU-Pueblo (8-0, 6-0) at Colorado Mesa (3-5, 3-3)

Saturday, 6 p.m., Stocker Stadium

Radio: 1230-AM (KEXO), 99.9-FM (KEKB)

The Coaches

CSU-Pueblo — John Wristen, fifth season, 39-13. Colorado Mesa — Russ Martin, first season, 3-5.

Last Week

CSU-Pueblo QB Ross Dausin threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns in the ThunderWolves’ 45-13 victory over Black Hills State.

Colorado Mesa turned the ball over six times in a 34-7 loss to Colorado Mines.

Series History

Colorado Mesa leads 17-12-5. CSU-Pueblo has won the past two meetings, including a 27-7 victory last year in Pueblo.

Players to Watch

CSU-Pueblo

QB Ross Dausin has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,062 yards and 19 TDs; RB J.B. Mathews leads the RMAC with 144.7 yards per game; LB Buster Thede leads the ThunderWolves with 9.6 tackles per game.

Colorado Mesa

RB Jake Cimolino has rushed for 1,057 yards and nine touchdowns (132.1 per game); LB Jake Edmiston leads the RMAC with 89 tackles (11.1 per game); Kick returner Trent deBraga leads the RMAC with a 25.8-yard average.

Injury Report

Colorado Mesa — QB Jason Haferman strained a ligament in his left knee last week and is out. Center Matt Mankoff (ankle) didn’t practice earlier in the week and will be a game-time decision. Defensive end Justin Brown was injured in last week’s loss and is a game-time decision.

Coach Martin SayS

About the keys to victory:

“One, we have to take care of the football. If we’re turning the ball over or losing the turnover battle, it’s not good. It’s not good at all. We have to be great tacklers on defense. They are going to get some yards. They are a big, physical football team. We can’t let them get yards after contact. ... Offensively, we have to (take advantage) of our opportunities. If we have a big-play situation, we have to make it. We have to be extremely solid on special teams and win the field-position game. That is a tough thing to do against Pueblo. That’s one of the things they have been really good at. They’ve been extremely solid, offensively, defensively and special teams.”

“One thing I think is a huge advantage to them is the depth. If you go back through and look at the number of plays and accumulative hits they’ve had, I bet it’s substantially less. At the same time, I believe our kids will battle.”

Game Notes

■ Colorado Mesa QB Deke Cisco will start his first game since Sept. 15.

■ Mavericks TE Robert Felberg took some snaps at QB this week and would play QB in an emergency with Jason Haferman (knee) out.

■ CSU-Pueblo has won 23 consecutive regular-season games, the longest current streak in Division II.

■ CSU-Pueblo QB Ross Dausin set single-season school records last week in total offense (2,077), total touchdowns (22), passing yards (2,062) and touchdown passes (19).



Koa Asing tried going by his given English name, but it didn’t go over well.

The Colorado Mesa University senior’s real name is Steele Chase Asing, after the Pittsburgh Steelers because his dad is a fan of the NFL team.

When he explains the story of his first name, “People trip out on me,” Asing said.

Instead, he goes by his Hawaiian name of Kane Koa Asing.

He’s grown accustomed to the good-natured ribbing from his football teammates.

“We give him crap all the time and the way he pronounces things because of his accent,” senior tight end Robert Felberg said. “He’s been here a while now, so he’s adjusted, but we still give him crap.”

The Mavericks’ linebacker plays along.

“I feel like they feed off of me,” Asing said. “They say I’m a typical Hawaiian. It’s all fun.

“Some of my lingo I say, they start picking it up and act like me at times just to mess with me. Instead of saying, ‘Oh, OK, bye.’ I’ll say, ‘Oh, OK, shootz.’ “

Shootz is Hawaiian for OK, cool.

Asing isn’t boisterous, and he doesn’t talk much, but he’s stepped in and started all but one game this season after the Mavericks lost four linebackers to graduation last year.

He has 32 tackles this season, including four for a loss. He forced a fumble last week against Colorado School of Mines.

“He’s a good kid,” CMU defensive coordinator Todd Auer said. “He’s athletic. Even when I got here, I thought he was raw. If we had him for five years, I think that would’ve made him a lot better.”

“He forced a fumble last week; he’s had times he’s made some good plays for us. Each week he gets better. He’s playing harder.”

Asing is from Aiea, Hawaii, not to be confused with Samoa, another Polynesian country in the Pacific Ocean.

“Our culture is different,” Asing said. “It’s similar, but it’s different. The languages and dialects are different. The delicacies are different. Being from the islands, you can tell if someone is Hawaiian or Samoan.”

Asing went to Allan Hancock (Calif.) Junior College out of Aiea High School. He played defensive end his freshman year, but has played linebacker since his sophomore year.

Asing transferred to Mesa in 2010 and redshirted his first year in Grand Junction.

“I like it a lot (at Mesa),” Asing said. “The college atmosphere is good. There is a lot to do.

“When I came here, that was the first time I’ve seen snow,” Asing said. “It was good maybe for the first hour. Then I was over it.”

He’s adjusted to the four seasons and the culture differences so much, it’s hard for him to imagine his college experience is coming to an end.

“It’s bittersweet,” Asing said of his final season. “I’m probably the oldest kid on the team. There are kids 17, 18 years old out here. I tell all the redshirts you might as well enjoy it because your life is over after that pretty much.”

Asing is on target to graduate in May and plans to return to Hawaii.


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