Much has been said about Weber State’s close ties to Hawai‘i. The Wildcats have at least nine players who claim the Aloha State as their home.
But tomorrow in the University of Hawai‘i Warrior football team’s home opener against the Wildcats, it will be Kaua‘i, and not just Hawai‘i, that will be well represented. For what just may be the first time in Aloha Stadium history, there will be a football player dressed out to play from each of the Kaua‘i public schools, and six total with Kaua‘i ties.
“I think it’s awesome that I get to be a part of that history,” said Warrior receiver Jett Jasper. “This will also be the first time we get to suit up in the new Under Armour jerseys and it will be at Aloha Stadium, so I’m excited.”
Jasper, a 2006 Kaua‘i High School grad, first suited up for the Sugar Bowl and may see time on the kickoffs.
Kenny Estes, a 2006 Waimea High School graduate, represents the Warrior squad as a defensive back. He played against Florida last week and in three games last year, mainly on special teams. He signed with the Warriors in 2005.
And on the opposite side of the field will be Lawai‘a Naihe playing for Weber State. The 2000 Kapa‘a High School grad went from being a guard at the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center to being a college football outside guard. Naihe didn’t start playing college ball until 2004 at Montana Western, then he moved on to Orange Coast College in California. While there, he received all conference and Lineman of the Year honors, after which he was offered a full-ride scholarship to Weber State.
Kaua‘i also claims Vaughn Meatoga as a hometown boy. The freshman from Kalaheo graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 2007 and had his first shot at field time against Florida.
“I think it’s really cool more Kaua‘i guys are getting out there, not just here, but in college football in general,” said the defensive lineman. “Playing with Kenny and Keala (Watson) guys is great. (I know) the Neighbor Islands are getting more competitive and with Kaua‘i, a lot of them can get to the college level.”
The brothers Watson, Keala and Keahi, are also active on the Warrior roster. Last week, Keala was named one of the team’s captains. Both were born and raised on Kaua‘i before moving to Nanakuli several years ago.
Keahi said he thinks having more local players on the team is a step in the positive direction.
“I think this just goes toward coach Mack’s vision because one of his biggest things is trying to get more local guys to stay home and play here,” he said. “It’s everyone’s dream in high school to play for the Warriors at Aloha Stadium. And you can see coach Mack’s commitment to his vision because before, you used to only see O‘ahu guys on the team. I think it’s good we’re getting a lot of Kaua‘i guys on the team. We’re even getting more guys on from the Big Island and it’s all a part of coach Mack’s vision.”
As a whole, the Warriors have 57 players who call Hawai‘i their home — 47 from O‘ahu (49 if the Watson brothers are listed as Nanakuli), four from the Big Island, one from Maui and the Kaua‘i players.
Kaua‘i came close to having each school represented at Aloha Stadium when Stan Kua (Waimea) and Bernard Carvalho (Kapa‘a) played for Hawai‘i in the 1970s.
This is the first meeting between the two schools. Game time is set for 6:05 p.m.