Ed McCaffrey, N. Colorado make offer to Kahuku’s Zealand Matagi

Kahuku Red Raiders running back Zealand Matagi (26) runs the ball with two Timpview Thunderbirds holding onto him during the second quarter at Timpview, Utah, on Sept. 7, 2019. Photo by Samantha Madar

Zealand Matagi has spent this highly irregular offseason getting leaner and stronger.

As a Star-Advertiser All-State running back in 2019, Matagi suited up at 195 pounds on his 5-foot-10 inch frame. Since then, he has worked endlessly, running the beach, hitting the weights. Getting faster. Now at 190, the senior has the attention of Northern Colorado, which recently offered Matagi a scholarship.

“They take me in as one of their own,” Matagi said of UNC coach Ed McCaffrey and staff.

McCaffrey is father of current Carolina Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Lyle Moevao was the point of contact for UNC.

Northern Colorado, a two-time NCAA Division II national champion, has been a member of the Big Sky Conference since 2006. The Bears were 2-10 last year, including 2-6 in conference play. In the classroom, student-athletes averaged a 3.42 grade-point average in the 2020 spring semester. The athletic program led the Big Sky in Graduate Success Ratings (GSR) and Academic Progress Rates (APR). The football team had an average 3.1 GPA in the spring.

This will be the first season as a head coach at the college level for Ed McCaffrey, who played 13 seasons as a pro. McCaffrey coached one year at Valor Christian High School in Colorado before taking the job at Northern Colorado, located in Greeley.

The Bears’ average attendance since 2011 is 4,265.

In 13 games last year, Matagi rushed for 1,418 yards on 240 carries and scored 19 touchdowns on the ground for Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Kahuku. Kahuku reached the Open Division state final, falling to nationally ranked Saint Louis.

Matagi also has contact with Cal, Colorado, Navy and Nebraska.

He and teammate All-State defensive lineman Zion Ah You considered transferring to Utah to play football this fall and returning in the winter. Each opted against the move rather than risk losing a senior season — in the spring of 2021 — at Kahuku.

Lockdown staples

Top 3 movies/shows

1. Friday.

2. Cool Runnings

3. Menace II Society.

Top 3 foods

1. Spam and corn. “My mom (Malia), her cooking is my favorite. I can make this.”

2. Zippy’s

3. Protein shake. “My favorite is Zion’s ‘Seki Protein.’”

Ah You: “It’s just chocolate protein powder, banana, peanut butter and milk.”

New skills

Matagi: “I learned how to spear fish. I can hook up plumbing. I learned rock climbing.”


  1. Stacey August 17, 2020 7:47 am

    Why can’t UH keep these young men at home?

  2. Hau'ulaBoy August 19, 2020 11:00 am

    Because most of the time that one of the uncles, cousins, or fathers went to UH, they never saw much PT. For example, Orlando Wong, Tusi Mailo, Lincoln Manutai, Keala Santiago, Benny Fonua. And the list goes on. These guys were ballers. But for some reason never got much of a chance.

  3. Hau'ulaBoy August 19, 2020 11:10 am

    Benny Fonua got a start and had 14 tackles in that game. Next game barley played. Dont know why? But the kid could play. Never understood it. Same with Keala. They had a sophomore starting in front of him and only gave him very limited PT. Only wasting his freshman year. They should have just redshirted him. That is probably why he transfered.

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