On Monday of this week, Victor Santa Cruz was officially announced as the University of Hawaii football program’s new defensive coordinator. Santa Cruz was a linebacker for the Rainbow Warriors from 1991 to 1994 and was a starter on the 1992 Holiday Bowl team. He comes to UH from Azusa Pacific, where he served as head coach for the past 14 seasons. He was recognized as the NAIA Independent Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2011.
Here are some more interesting facts about our brand new DC:
◊ At Rancho Buena Vista HS, Santa Cruz was a classmate of Dave Roberts, who is presently the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
◊ Santa Cruz signed to play for Hawaii out of Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista, California. He redshirted in 1990 and then played four seasons, from 1991 to ’94. Over his career, Santa Cruz recorded 139 total tackles, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.
◊ On Sept. 5, 1992, in Eugene, Oregon, Santa Cruz recovered an Oregon fumble at the UH 19 yard line with 2:37 left in the game to help the Rainbow Warriors preserve a 24-21 victory. Hawaii, of course, would go on to win the WAC title that season and beat Illinois in the Holiday Bowl.
◊ At UH, Santa Cruz became good friends with teammate and fellow inside linebacker, Junior Faavae. In high school, however, they were rivals. “We were ranked No. 2 in the state and they were No. 1 [during] my junior year,” Santa Cruz told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin’s Paul Arnett. “Oceanside High was a big rival and we beat them by 17. Every now and then, I remind [Junior] of that game, just to keep him in his place.” In 1993, Faavae and Santa Cruz finished 1-2 on the team in total tackles.
High School rivals Junior Faavae (left) and Victor Santa Cruz became friends at teammates at the University of Hawaii.
◊ In 2004, his first season as Azusa Pacific’s defensive coordinator, Santa Cruz guided what some observers have called the best defensive team in program history. The Cougars’ defense allowed only 9.6 points per game that season. The unit also allowed an NAIA-leading 55 QB sacks.
◊ For eight seasons, NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Slater served as Santa Cruz’s offensive line coach at Azusa Pacific.
◊ In 2013, Azusa Pacific walloped Greenville, 67-0, in the NCCAA Victory Bowl in Rome, Georgia. The Victory Bowl is the championship football game between schools that are members of the National Christian College Athletic Association. That same year, Hawaii decathlete Bryan Clay was inducted into Azusa Pacific Athletics Hall of Fame.
◊ Here’s a video that exemplifies the philosophy that Santa Cruz has when it comes to football and shaping the lives of the young men he coaches:
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