Q&A: Maninoa Tufono on Mexico’s passion for football

Punahou linebacker Maninoa Tufono played in a high school football all-star game in Mexico. Photo by Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser

Maninoa Tufono, like his football and basketball teammate (and classmate) Duke Clemens, has been a busy Buffanblu for several months.

The Punahou senior had 39 scholarship offers to play football in college, signed with Southern California, completed his season on the football field, and then put on his sneakers for the hardwood. But before No. 1 Punahou could begin its ILH regular season in basketball, Tufono took a trip to Mexico City with Clemens. He played in the Hall of Fame game over the weekend.

Tufono chatted with Hawaii Prep World.

HPW: What was the weather like? Mexico City is famous for its smog.

MT: It’s was surprisingly cold out there and the altitude got to me during practice.

HPW: How was the game? Was it physical or more of a showcase with not much hitting?

MT: The game was physical and hard yet everyone knows we had to play smart.

HPW: What was the best experience about being with other players?

MT: The best experience being with other players is just the connections and new friendships you make. And the second thing is just being able to play against and with the guys you’ll be seeing at the next level for the next five years.

HPW: What was your favorite off-field experience?

MT: My favorite off field experience is just seeing the love of the people in Mexico. The kids and people just have a passion and love for football and treated us like family. And they didn’t want us to leave.

HPW:  What was your favorite food?

MT: Favorite food was being able to eat real Mexican tacos and not fake Taco Bell

HPW: Any shout outs?

MT: Thank you to my dad for sacrificing his time to take me. Thank you to the Hall of Fame for putting on an amazing event that will soon become one of the top bowls for high school athletes to play in.

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