Mililani’s Vavae Malepeai etched his name into the Hawaii high school history books with his rushing exploits for the Trojans the past three falls.
Malepeai, who broke Joe Igber of ‘Iolani’s all-time rushing record in last week’s Division I state semifinal loss to Saint Louis (4,549 to 4,428), has lots of friends and relatives on both teams in the No. 2 Kahuku (12-0) vs. top-ranked Crusaders (9-1) championship game Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.
Malepeai is not rooting for one particular team to win over the other, but he does wish both sides the best.
The Trojans running back, who is off to play for the Oregon Ducks next fall, is the nephew of Vavae Tata, the Kahuku head coach. As a matter of fact, they have the same first name because Malepeai was named after Tata.
In addition, Malepeai is a cousin of Saint Louis offensive lineman Michael Malepeai and a nephew of Crusaders assistants Tupu Alualu and Wes Tufaga.
Another uncle of Vavae Malepeai’s is actually playing in the state final — Saint Louis offensive lineman Amo Augafa.
According to Tali Malepeai, Vavae Malepeai’s mother, Saint Louis quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia grew up with Vavae and “so always considered each other brothers and family.”
The connections don’t stop there. He is good friends with and former junior football teammates of Kahuku quarterback Kesi Ah-Hoy, linebackers Pesa Lefau, Manaia Atuaia and Aaron Tapusoa, and running back Sefa Ameperosa, as well as Saint Louis defensive back Iosefa Noga.