Given the choice between diverting away from collisions or initiating contact, football player/wrestler/boxer/judoka Naomas Asuega-Fualaau prefers to treat defenders like bowling pins.
Kaimuki’s senior running back/safety is off to a strong start, as is the case with his teammates. The Bulldogs are coming off a 61-7 win at Waialua and are now 2-0 in OIA Division II play (3-1 overall). In four games, he has rushed for 546 yards and four TDs on 60 carries. Quite a shift from his Pop Warner days with the Kapahulu Raiders, when he played offensive line, wide receiver and RB.
>> CLICK HERE TO READ HIS FEATURE STORY IN THE HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER
“I didn’t know too much about Naomas prior to his start at running back for Ka’au (Crater Bulldogs), but what I did see was his natural abilities he possessed as an athlete,” Kaimuki coach David Tautofi said. “What I saw when he started at running back was the potential for him to be what he’s panning out to be today. In all, he’s a competitive player that challenges himself in any areas he feels he needs to get better in.”
Whether it is QB Jayden Maiava running the RPO or Asuega-Fualaau running wide on designed run plays, defenses have to choose coverage or run stoppage. With quarterback-turned-tight end Jonah Fa‘asoa as an H-back style weapon who can make tough catches in the middle of the field, Maiava can see over traffic with his 6-5 frame. Kaimuki can move in any direction by land or air, with power or finesse.
Kaimuki’s Beast Mode — Asuega-Fualaau’s favorite athlete is Marshawn Lynch — knows his linemen well: left tackle Aloalii Aso‘au-Asuega, a.k.a. Chief; left guard Daniel Moefu-Tautofi; center Demetrius Moefu-Tautofi; right guard Ricky Wells Jr.; right tackle Tasi Komiti. Daniel Moefu-Tautofi and Komiti are seniors. The other three are sophomores.
“Chief is my cousin. All of them, I can read them when I have the ball. He clamps them, turns them either way and I read him,” Asuega-Fualaau said. “Daniel can pull right or left. I’d say he’s the fastest, top ‘Dog on the O0line. He can keep up with my speed and still block.”
He remembers meeting Komiti at Jarrett Middle School.
“Tasi was a FOB in middle school. I heard everybody talking about him. ‘You gotta meet Tasi.’ All of us have been friends since then,” Asuega-Fualaau said. “He leads with his work ethic, him working hard every day on the field. Before practice, he’s training to get better.”
The 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior is building up an impressive resume as a running back. His future might be on the other side of the ball. He excels at safety, too. Physical. Savvy. Ball-hawking. Asuega-Fualaau had four interceptions in a 7v7 contest between Kaimuki and Kapolei during the summer.
Asuega-Fuaalii chatted with HPW on Sunday.
Football, wrestling, judo
Q&A • Favorites
> Marshawn Lynch
> I run a little bit like him. Could get better. I just run a little bit high because I’m taller than most running backs.”
> Seattle Seahawks
So, when Lynch left the Seahawks, you were heartbroken.
> “Yeah pretty much. Same thing as our football team. Whenever anyone quits or anything, we have to get over it, keep moving up.
Food at home
Steak and rice.
> My dad and I cook it. Medium rare with A1 sauce.
Food eating out
> Don’t really eat out that much. It would be McDonald’s. A lot of dollar sandwiches.
> I like doing things with my hands like construction. I would help out with my coach. One time we went out to Ewa to help out.
> The first Spider-Man. I don’t know who was the actor, maybe Tobey Maguire.
> Rick and Morty, the first episode.
> I play Fortnite, but not as much anymore. It’s too busy with school and football. Ricky Wells and Blade Kekoa play a lot with me. When we’re together in the same room, we play Madden.
> I like any kind of music. I just go with it.
> In elementary, it was Mrs. Silverstein (Palolo). That was my first teacher when I moved over here from Seattle in fourth grade. She was really nice.
Place to relax
> A beach in Waianae, Makaha.
> I don’t have one. I just tell myself to keep pushing through.
What mom (Ranelle) says that you can’t forget?
> Do your chores or clean the bathroom. That’s mostly during the weekends.
What dad (Perry) says that you can’t forget?
> He doesn’t really say much. One thing he tells me all the time is, ‘The world is yours.’
What your coaches say that you can’t forget?
> Coach T (David Tautofi), ever since I moved up from freshman year, he always says, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
How does football affect your life year-round?
> I do other sports. Wrestling, boxing, judo. But my coaches want me to do track.
So you lift only during football season?
> Yeah. I mostly do pushups.
Middle and elementary schools
> Palolo Elementary, then Jarrett Middle, and my eighth-grade year, Damien.
What was Damien like?
> Expensive. Like, really expensive. Even with financial aid. At lunch I would ask everybody for a dollar. For a slice of pizza, it was $3 to $4. I would go rack up $21 at least. It was fun.
What youth sports did you play?
> I was really little. I played quarterback for the Benson Bruins in Seattle. I can throw pretty good. Then we moved here. I played for Kapahulu (Raiders). Eighth grade, I went to Kaau Crater Bulldogs (JPS). Playing (JPS) was the same. I played many positions. Running back, safety, receiver, even lineman. I told my coaches I wanted to play RB. I was small (on the line) going up against big guys. I was really small, skinny.
So how did you fill out?
> I remember everybody telling me I eat too much. Wrestling and boxing keeps the extra weight off. I try my best to lose it all.
Where have you traveled for sports?
> We went to Vegas, just us (Kaimuki). It was good. I could barely breathe up there.
What’s something you like to do or something you’re good at that would surprise people?
> I like anything. I just adapt myself to anything.
Time machine. If you could go into the future or past, where would you go?
> I’d go to my younger years in Seattle. 2010. I’d tell myself, you’re doing good, keep doing yourself. Listen more. Like clean up after yourself. Just these moments I’d have when I was small. One time I dropped all the bird food for my bird. I spilled it in the pantry and just left it. My dad asked me later on, what happened?
You still have birds?
> No. It was just that bird. His name was Duck. He was a parrot, orange, green and yellow. We left him back in Seattle with my Grandma. She doesn’t like birds, but she took care of him. He died five years after we left.
You didn’t get another bird?
> No. I didn’t want a reminder of anything.
Your parents like birds?
> I think they used to like birds.
Bucket list. What places and things would you want to do?
> Sky dive. The air, the breeze going down. I’d visit Seattle and see friends. My cousins. Probably go to New Zealand to experience a new place.
History and background of your name.
> My first name is Samoan spelled backwards. I’m named after my uncle.
Are you going to name your son Naomas?
> No. I would want him to make his own name.
What’s your middle name?
> Vaa Feitau. My uncle’s first name is Vaa. Feitau is my grandpa.
> My mom and dad. Thank you for always taking care of me. Thank you for everything you do.
Did your dad have to discipline you?
> Yeah. It gets me crazy when I see kids get crazy. My dad still spanked me my freshman year. He used his hands or the paddle. It’s like a small wooden paddle. It says Seattle Seahawks. A peacemaker.
You guys are 2-0 in the OIA (D-II). Can you make a run and win a championship even though you lost so much talent to graduation?
> I know the boys can keep working hard. Especially from yesterday (at Waialua). They did really good. It takes hard work and dedication from the boys, and that’s what they do every week, the beginning to the end.
You have one of the best conditioned teams because it’s always a small group.
> We run 20 110s (110-yard sprints) before and after practice. Jayden or Boris (Montgomery) usually finish first. Boris is a little freshman.
Jayden moved back from Las Vegas, he’s only a sophomore. What is the leadership like for the team?
> We all put in work. We all do our jobs. We all treat each other the same.
What happens when things get testy between your team and other teams?
> If somebody starts talking like that, we wouldn’t allow that. Among the players, it would be me or Bu (Pfeiffer-Kekoa) or Ricky (Wells) that would put them back in their place.
But there’s not so much trash-talking in D-II.
> There’s a lot.
You guys nottin’!
> That’s why you’re in D-II. You’re in D-II, too.
But D-II is about numbers. Three or four injuries and it’s a different team. What’s your prediction?
> Making it past the championship, then to states. Winning states.
Staying healthy is key. And staying eligible. How do you guys make sure everyone makes their grades?
> Some of us have classes together, so we make sure we’re all sitting in front. In my history class, there’s me, Ricky (Wells) and if chairs are filled up, Chief (Aso‘au-Asuega) would be two chairs back. He’s my cousin.