Taulia Tagovailoa And Other Kapolei Kids Play With Nation’s Best At Polynesian Bowl
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The Polynesian Bowl, Saturday night at Aloha Stadium, features top high school football players from New Jersey, Florida, Texas, California—and three kids from Kapolei High.
Taulia Tagovailoa, formerly of Kapolei High, Committed to Alabama
The the #5 ranked pro-style quarterback in the country, Tagovailoa started his career at Kapolei High. After his sophomore season (when Taulia led Kapolei to their first win in a state tournament game) he transferred to a school in Alabama, while brother Tua starred at the U of A. Taulia will attend Alabama too.
Julius Buelow, Kapolei High, Committed to Washington
The Kapolei offensive tackle is ranked as the #4 recruit in the state, and the #29 offensive tackle in the U.S. He’ll play for the University of Washington this fall.
Peni Naulu, Kapolei High, Committed to Hawaiʻi
The Kapolei linebacker is the #12 recruit in Hawaii, and headed to Washington State University (where he’ll immediately be fierce rivals with his former teammate Buelow).
Game Details and Other Names to Know
The game is at 7:05 pm, tickets are $12-20 for adults, $9 for kids. The game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network, and shown the next day on KMBG-5, at about 5pm (after the end of the AFC Championship Game).
If you watch, you’ll be among the first to see these future college and (likely) NFL stars in action. If you saw the 2017 game (the first ever played), you saw Tua Tagovailoa, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting and seems sure to be a top 5 NFL pick, and A.J. Epenesa, now at Iowa, who led the Big Ten in sacks last year.
2018’s game included Palaie Gaoteote, who started as a true freshman at USC last year, and was recently named to Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Breakout Stars list.
Some of the top players in this year’s game:
Trey Sanders, IMG Academy (FL), Committed to Alabama
The #1-ranked running back in the country, he’s going to ‘Bama next year where he’ll share a backfield with at least one Tagovailoa and maybe two. He already has a good sweater game.
Faatui Tuitele, Saint Louis, Committed to Washington
The #1 recruit in the state, #57 in the nation. Tuitele was key to Saint Louis’ stifling state championship defense. He’s a University of Washington recruit.
Ishmael Sopsher, Amite City (LA), Yet to Commit
This 6-4, 330 pound Louisiana kid is the #3 defensive tackle in the country. He hasn’t picked a school yet, but he has some pretty good choices; he recently narrowed his list to Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Oregon, Texas, and Florida State.
Henry Toʻotoʻo, De La Salle (CA), Yet to Commit
The 3rd-ranked outside linebacker, and 44th in the nation, this Californian of Samoan ancestry has also yet to commit, but is said to be picking between Alabama, Tennessee, Washington, and Oregon.
Washington: 9 players
Oregon: 7 players
Stanford: 7 players
Alabama: 5 players
USC: 5 players
Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn State, Florida, Stanford, LSU, UCLA, BYU, and Navy are just some of the other major schools with commits playing in the game.
A few folks who’ve already made their careers in football will be on hand. Haloti Ngata and Juju Smith-Schuster are the honorary captains. The two coaches are former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti, and former Seahawks QB Jim Zorn. Marcus Mariota has appeared in years past—last year he spent most of the game signing autographs for an interminable stream of local kids—and may again.
It’s a fun, low-key event. Ticket prices are very low, and most of the seats are general admission, so you can wander around to get the view you want. If you’re a fan of a particular college team, you’ll see their stars before your friends on the mainland do. Some of these players will likely never play in Hawaiʻi again. Might be the only chance you’ll get to to scout your 2025 fantasy football team in person.
Image at top by Ajay Suresh via Flickr / Creative Commons