Waimea’s Matagiese means business

Senior defensive tackle dedicated to school, team

by Lanaly Cabalo – The Garden Island

WAIMEA — Siasau Matagiese sported his brand new Under Armour Hawai‘i Athletics shirt at practice last week. The 16-year-old, 6-foot-2, 250-pounder got it for attending the Hawai‘i Speed and Quickness Big Man Football camp — the final of the summer camps hosted by the University of Hawai‘i Warrior program and the last of four camps Matagiese attended this year.

“I go to these camps so I can learn better techniques and defensive schemes so I can bring them back and teach my teammates what I learned,” the Waimea High School senior defensive end said. “Mostly I go for leadership. I want to keep everyone together and keep them all focused.”

Matagiese has attended camps from HSQ, Game Plan Hawai‘i and participated in the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance High School Football Combine where he cracked the top 10 in the 225-pound bench press (15 reps). He was also the only player from a Kaua‘i school to have made the top 10 in any of the categories.

According to Waimea’s head football coach Kyle Linoz, Matagiese is an excellent role model for the other players.

“He’s the hardest working guy we have,” Linoz said. “He stays late to work on things and he comes early.”

Matagiese’s dedication to football has landed him on the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation all-stars list.

“He’s one of the most coachable guys we have,” Linoz said. “He asks us questions but he never questions what we tell him.”

In fact, Matagiese truly has come a long way from his first year of playing football.

“My first year was my freshman year. It was kind of hard for me. I didn’t know anything about football. The coaches helped me a lot,” Matagiese said. “It was tougher than I thought it would be — the way they would work us out.”

He had a good enough showing as a rookie that he earned himself a spot on the varsity squad the following year.

“I was looking forward to the season. I knew the game better and I was stronger,” he said.

But his sophomore season ended just as quickly as it began. During the first game, in the second series, Matagiese got tangled up in a pile and his foot accidentally got stomped on by another player.

His foot was hurt so badly that he had to have it checked out by a doctor.

“When the doctor said I was done for the season, I was really bummed because I wanted to play,” he said.

Being on crutches or limping around the weight room didn’t stop him from training and most certainly did not keep him away from the team.

“My mother taught me that if I start something, to never give up. I still came to practices. I still worked out. I did whatever I could do,” he said. “A lot of it was upper body work.”

Matagiese said he got stronger because of it, not just physically, but mentally as well.

“It strengthened my will. (Something) like that kind of opens your eyes a little bit to never take anything for granted,” he said.

He came back for his junior season better prepared than ever.

“When I came back, I never complained about anything about practice,” he said.

Also with the injury occurring just a year prior, he tried prevent the paranoia that another one could occur.

“I think of it sometimes, but I try to get it out of my mind and play a good game,” he said.

In Waimea’s opening series against Kaua‘i High School, Matagiese played an integral part in the Menehune’s 16-14 upset of the three-time defending KIF champs.

“That win felt really good, to come back and beat a team that’s won championships for so many years,” he said.

Although it wasn’t in the cards for them to reclaim the KIF championship — Waimea last won in 2003 under the direction of Jon Kobayashi — Matagiese still thinks they have a chance to win this year.

Like most years, Waimea is smaller in numbers, smaller in height and smaller in weight, but Matagiese still thinks his teammates have what it takes to be a good team.

“My goal for this year is to make sure our team focuses on our team goal: Taking the championship. It hasn’t been here in a long time,” he said. “What we have over a lot of schools is that we have heart. Hopefully everything will fall into place.”

Waimea starts off its preseason against Konawaena High School on the Big Island on Aug. 23. Waimea begins its regular season against Kapa‘a High School on Sept. 12 at Hanapepe Stadium.

Siasau Matagiese

Age: 16

Hometown: Waimea

Family: Parents Maka and Aunese; sisters Xiani, Leiann and Gaylan

Sports: Football, basketball, paddling, track and field

Favorite football player: Jordon Dizon. “He’s just like us. Coming from a small town, he was just like us, then he went to college and now he’s successful.”

Extracurricular activities: Volunteers for career fairs, community service with athletics in elementary schools.

• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com


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