This year’s Polynesian Bowl served as a homecoming for a few football stars from Hawaii, as Mililani’s McKenzie Milton, Saint Louis alum Marcus Mariota and Lahainaluna product Hercules Mata’afa all made an appearance at Aloha Stadium to watch Team Mauka beat Team Mauka 31-14 on Saturday night.
Mata’afa, who just completed his redshirt junior season at Washington State, was honored at the end of the third quarter of the high school football all-star game after being named the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year in December.
Additionally, Mata’afa was also a consensus All-American and decided to forgo his senior season to declare for the NFL Draft.
Some down time in his home state, on top of getting a chance to catch a glimpse of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s past, present and future was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
“It’s good to be back home and be surrounded by my culture, and see all the guys that did it in the past,” he said. “It was great to see those guys and get some tips from them as I pursue my dreams.”
Mata’afa was also being able to observe the organization’s workings, which also hit home for him.
“We’re always tight, we’re moving as a group every single time and it reminds me of the togetherness of a family,” Mata’afa said. “It’s a family atmosphere out here. I got to meet a bunch of great athletes and people.”
After the Polynesian Bowl, Mata’afa says he will fly back out to Phoenix, Ariz., where he will resume his training and await an official invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place March 2-5 in Indianapolis, Ind.
Also present in Halawa was Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, who was named the Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year award in January.