It’s a whole new world, maybe.
Tausili Fiatoa, an eighth grader who plays for the Laie Park Red Raiders in the Hawaii State Jr. Prep Sports football league, received a football scholarship offer from Oregon State on Thursday. Two supporters of the year-round football club, Robert Faleafine and Jack Damuni, shared the news on Facebook late Thursday night. Faleafine is founder and president of the Big Boyz League.
Faleafine communicated via text early Friday morning and confirmed the news. The offer came via Beavers assistant (defensive line) coach Chad Kauhaahaa, who turned Baldwin into a Maui Interscholastic League dynasty before departing for the college ranks. This was the second offer by Oregon State to a local player in less than 24 hours. On Thursday morning, the Beavers made an offer to Kapolei freshman linebacker Rocky Savea.
Fiatoa is a 6-foot-1, 184-pound defensive end who rated fifth among eighth graders at the Nike Opening Combine at Aloha Stadium on Feb. 8. His results include a 5.25 in the 40-yard dash and a 26.4-inch vertical jump.
Word in the community is that Fiatoa may transfer and begin his high school career at national powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Nev., this fall. Other local prospects, like former Saint Louis phenomenon Haskell Garrett, made the move in recent years. Then again, Laie Park coach Aisa Wily, uncle of former All-State Red Raiders Aofaga Wily and Salanoa-Alo Wily, was recently hired by new Kahuku High School football coach Vavae Tata to guide the junior varsity program. Maybe Fiatoa stays.
Fiatoa and his Laie Park teammates will play Ewa Beach in the league championship game on Saturday at Mililani High School’s John Kauinana Stadium. Gates open at 9 a.m. for the day-long age-group championship matchups.
Oregon State is not the only school to offer a scholarship an eighth grader. Michigan did so in April. The University of Miami did likewise in April, offering scholarships to three eighth graders. Alabama did it in 2013. It’s been going on with athletes in basketball and soccer, as well. Last year, soccer star Haley Berg of Sanford, Fla., had multiple Division I offers to consider before she was done with middle school.
Note: The earlier version of this post incorrectly listed Aloha Stadium as the site for the championship games.