The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced Thursday the establishment of the Polynesian Bowl, a high school all-star game featuring the world’s best of Polynesian heritage and other ancestries.
Eighty-four nationally-ranked players will be selected to participate, and 30 have already committed. Among the 30 is Kapaa High School offensive lineman Morris Unutoa Jr.
Unutoa was at Aloha Stadium on Thursday for a press conference announcing the all-star game.
“It was good. It was fun,” Unutoa said in a phone interview. “The players that were there, it was me, Tua Tagovailoa, Isaac Slade, and Myron Tagovailoa.”
Unutoa said he was approached about playing in the game earlier this week and made the commitment on Tuesday.
“It means a lot. It’s going to be really special, especially because it’s the first one,” Unutoa said. “You get the chance to represent not only my culture, but Hawaii as a whole. There’s going to be 20 or 24 players are going to be from Hawaii, and the rest are going to be from around the world.”
The 6-foot-5 Warriors senior lineman has received 10 Division I scholarship offers — University of Hawaii, BYU, Utah, Vanderbilt, UNLV, Oregon State, Colorado, Washington State, San Jose State and Central Florida.
The Polynesian Bowl will take place Jan. 21 at Aloha Stadium on Oahu as part of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend.
Team captains will be past Polynesian College Player of the Year recipients and current NFL players Marcus Mariota, of the Tennessee Titans, and Ronnie Stanley, of the Baltimore Ravens.
“Honoring my heritage is very important to me. I look forward to working with the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame to make this the best high school all-star game in the country,” Mariota said in a press release. “This will give our Polynesian players opportunities and exposure that is much needed.”
Polynesian Football HOF inductees Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson and Olin Kreutz will serve as honorary coaches — Thompson for Team Mariota, and Kreutz for Team Stanley.
Hawaii News Now will air the game locally, according to the release.
Of the 30 early commits, seven are from Hawaii — Unutoa Jr., Isaac Slade-Matautia (LB, Saint Louis School), Miki Suguturaga (DT, Punahou), Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Saint Louis School), Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (DT, Kapolei), Aliki Vimahi (DE, Kahuku) and Charles Watson (S, Leilehua).