One of the most dangerous places in paradise is the trenches, a patch between football’s offensive and defensive lines whose area code should be 911.
“Legalized violence,” said University of Hawaii defensive lineman Kory Rasmussen, echoing offensive line coach Chris Naeole’s description of that area’s activity.
Rasmussen, a fifth-year senior, is entrenched there as an interior defender. This season, he has split his six starts between nose tackle and defensive tackle in the Rainbow Warriors’ 4-3 base scheme.
“It’s fun,” Rasmussen said. “It’s action packed, I can tell you that. I like the action.”
As a hold-the-point defender, Rasmussen often faces double teams from grasping and punching offensive linemen. But in the rules of engagement, Rasmussen said, “I don’t try to take the hit. I try to give the beating.”
Rasmussen knocked down a pass, had a solo sack and assisted on another in the Warriors’ 34-17 victory over San Jose State the past weekend. The UH coaches named Rasmussen the defensive player of the week.
“Those guys you usually don’t hear about unless they do something bad,” UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. “He’s got some production. He made some sacks. He knocked the ball down. He made some tackles.”
Rasmussen said: “It’s not an individual thing. It’s the whole defense. I can’t take credit. We do it as a group.”
Rasmussen said he enjoys the contact.
“It’s an instinct,” he said. “It’s a way to get out aggression, I guess.”
It has been that way since he first started playing football. He was 4.
His first experience in organized football was when he enrolled in the Oahu Youth Sports League. The ‘Ewa Beach Cardinals assigned him to center.
“You go where they tell you,” said Rasmussen, who has not strayed from the trenches. “I’ve been on the line pretty much my whole life.”
He played on the defensive line at Kamehameha Schools and then for a year at Colorado. After transferring to UH in 2013, he bounced between offense and defense before finding a home as an interior defender. This season, opponents have averaged 2.2 yards rushing on plays where he makes a tackle.
“He’s a good kid,” Lempa said of Rasmussen. “He’s one of our leaders on defense. All the players look up to him. I’m happy with him.”
After a day of classes and football activities, Rasmussen rejoins his other team — his girlfriend, Rae, and their son, Kruse. They live on the top floor of a house in Papakolea. Rae’s grandparents live on the bottom floor. Her parents live next door. A cousin who lives across the street babysits Kruse when Kory and Rae are in school.
“It takes all of us,” Rasmussen said. “It’s a team effort. My girlfriend is awesome. Without her and her family, I wouldn’t be able to be here playing football.”