Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, December 14, 2001


Isle football players
narrow down colleges

Senior standouts make
their visits, trying to figure out
where to go to school

By Jason Kaneshiro

Several of the state's best high school football players are racking up frequent flyer miles this holiday season as they narrow down their college choices.

Defensive linemen highlight this year's crop of recruits as several are being sought by high-profile mainland universities, chief among them Colorado, Oregon and Washington, as well as Hawaii.

Kahuku lineman Jonathan Mapu, the state's most coveted senior, begins his recruiting schedule this weekend with a trip to Washington.

Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai said Mapu is also considering visiting Penn State, Nebraska and Tennessee. He said Hawaii also remains in the hunt for the 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end, who helped lead the Red Raiders to back-to-back state championships.

Livai said Mapu was offered trips by 20 schools, making the decision process a difficult one.

"He has a lot to pick from and he has only five trips he can take," Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai said. "And he said he only wants to take four at the most."

Livai said Red Raider quarterback Inoke Funaki, who is a member of the Kahuku basketball team, hasn't decided what schools to visit yet. But he added that Funaki would stay home should Hawaii offer him a scholarship.

Funaki, who stands 6 feet and weighs 180 pounds, earned qualifying scores in the SAT as a high school freshman and passed for more than 2,000 yards this season.

Two Kahuku players, offensive lineman Kalavi Blanchard and defensive lineman Tala Esera, have already made verbal commitments to Hawaii.

Iolani defensive lineman Donny Mateaki is in Nebraska this weekend to visit with Cornhusker coaches. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Mateaki has already taken trips to Colorado, Oregon and Washington, and has a visit to Arizona scheduled for January.

"Whether he's leaning one way or another, I really can't tell," Iolani coach Wendell Look said. "When he gets back we'll sit down and talk about it."

Look said Hawaii actively recruited Mateaki, but that he is leaning toward going to the mainland.

Kamehameha's defensive line duo of Brandon Ala and Abu Ma'afala left last week's Hawaii Union Builders Goodwill Football Classic in the third quarter so they could hop a plane to Washington. Ma'afala, who stands 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, still did enough to be named the West squad's outstanding defensive player.

Ala, who stands 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, is the younger brother of Hawaii defensive lineman Houston Ala. Another brother, running back Tui Ala, completed his eligibility at Hawaii last week.

In addition to Washington, the duo has visited Colorado and Oregon. Kamehameha coach Kanani Souza said they still have trips to Wisconsin and Washington State scheduled.

Warrior offensive lineman Enoka Lucas is also drawing attention from recruiters. The 6-foot-3, 285 pounder will visit the same schools as his defensive teammates.

A pair of Punahou players may be headed for Ivy League schools. Buffanblu quarterback Todd LaFountaine (6-0, 185 pounds) visited Harvard last week, where he was hosted by former Pac-Five quarterback Neil Rose. Rose, a University High graduate, guided the Crimson to a 9-0 mark this season.

Jason Ching, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound defensive back and receiver, visited Brown last week and is also considering attending San Diego and Hawaii.

"It'd be great," Punahou coach Kale Ane said of the possibility of placing two players at Ivy league schools. "It's really a tribute to the kids academically and athletically."

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