LIHUE — Kauai sports bars were abuzz New Year’s Day with football fans, many anxious to watch Oregon quarterback and Honolulu native Marcus Mariota take the field in the Rose Bowl Game.
“I’m just stoked to see Mariota in there because I got roots in both places,” said Lihue resident and Oregon fan Steve Bartel, who has previously lived in Portland, Oregon and Ewa Beach, Oahu.
Bartel was among a crowd of about 30 people gathered at Rob’s Good Times Grill Thursday afternoon. While most appeared to be causal fans looking at the TV screens as they enjoyed their meals, loyal Ducks and Seminoles fans wore their colors proudly.
Mariota led Oregon to a 59-20 win over Florida State in the national championship semifinal game.
Bartel said watching Mariota on the big stage is especially cool for him.
“There are more supporters in here for Oregon rather than Florida State. There’s one gentleman dressed in Seminoles’ (attire), but everybody else seems to be for Mariota and Oregon,” Bartel said. “Now that he’s won the Heisman and is playing at Oregon, I’m surprised every seat isn’t taken. But I’m sure on Oahu, most bars are filled to the rim.”
Tallahassee, Florida native Sean Stege was also at the Lihue hangout with his eyes glued to the TV. He’s visiting Kauai on vacation, but made sure to watch and root for his alma mater — Florida State.
Though the Seminoles were trailing at halftime, Stege had faith his team would pull through, as that has been the trend all season long.
“It’s the situation we found ourselves in almost every game,” he said during halftime. “I think they’re probably going to go with the deep ball — bigger plays. Right now, they’re just chipping away.”
Puhi resident Mike Finn, who also previously lived in Portland, predicted the second half would showcase high scoring from both teams, but claimed Oregon is the better team and would ultimately take the win.
He added Mariota has been one of Oregon’s best quarterbacks in a long time.
“He’s awesome … especially coming out of Hawaii. Plus, he’s a hell of a nice guy,” Finn said. “He going to go a long way. I think he’ll do well in the big league. I hope he stays, but I think he’ll declare (for the National Football League draft). I think it’d be foolish not to. A lot of money there, and he’ll probably be the No. 1 pick.”