Mata’afa named Polynesian college player of year

Hercules Mata’afa became the second Polynesian College Football Player of the Year from a Hawaii high school in the four years of the award’s existence today.

Mata’afa, a defensive lineman from Lahainaluna who plays for Washington State, joins Marcus Mariota (Saint Louis School/Oregon, 2014), Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame, 2015) and Sefo Liufau (Colorado, 2016) as a recipient of the award given by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.

The fourth-year junior was named the Pac-12 conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and to five All-American teams, including that of the Associated Press. Mata’afa led the Pac-12 with 21.5 tackles-for-loss including 9.5 sacks. Mata’afa helped lead the Cougars to a 9-3 record and a berth in the Dec. 28 Holiday Bowl against Michigan State.

University of Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai was among four other finalists. They also include linebacker Manase Hungalu (Oregon State), linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka (Virginia Tech) and defensive lineman Vita Vea (Washington).

The award will be presented Jan. 19 at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s induction dinner on Oahu.

The 2018 PFHOF inductees are Bob Apisa, Herman Clark, Ma’ake Kemoeatu, Manu Tuiasosopo and Kimo von Oelhoffen. Apisa (Farrington), Clark (Punahou), Kemoeatu (Kahuku) and von Oelhoffen (Molokai) are all Hawaii high school graduates.