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Polynesian Bowl built for success

Punahou’s Miki Suguturaga (left), Kahuku coach Vavae Tata (center) and Maui’s Feleti Afemui are part of Ronnie Stanley’s team in the Polynesian Bowl. Photo by Craig Kojima/Star-Advertiser.

Before the Polynesian Bowl holds its first high school football all-star game on Saturday, it announced its first batch of high school juniors committed to play next year.

The list includes two five-star recruits in linebacker Palaie Gaoteote from Bishop Gorman (Nev.), a Mililani transfer, and quarterback Jacob Sirmon from Bothell, Wash. Gaoteote is the No. 11 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 by and Sirmon is No. 16 in the ESPN300 for juniors.

Kahuku’s Samson Reed and Waianae’s Kana’i Mauga were invited from Hawaii. ‘Iolani receiver Justin Genovia has already been promised a spot as well.

It was clear from Thursday’s press conference that the people behind the Polynesian Bowl want to make it the top high school football all-star game in the land, and the six players ranked in’s Top 100 for 2018 who have committed already show they’re quite serious about it.

As four-time Super Bowl winner Jesse Sapolu, the Chairman and Co-Founder of the Polynesian Bowl said, “our vision is clear — to build the Polynesian Bowl into the Pro Bowl of high school all-star games.”

For a first-time bowl game, it surely has its stars. Although Alabama QB and Saint Louis alum Tua Tagovailoa might not play, there are plenty of players worth watching.

The top college football program on the West Coast are well represented with Washington (six commits), Oregon (three commits) and Southern California (three commits). Michigan has five commits in the game, including QB Dylan McCaffrey, and still roughly half the field is undecided on their future.

Hawaii has a total of 37 players in the game representing three different islands. Maui’s Feleti Afemui and Baldwin’s Mango Finau represent the Valley Isle while Kapaa’s Morris Unutoa holds it down for the island of Kauai.

Unutoa, who is 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, has been a favorite amongst the coaches. He’s already been on four of his five official visits and will head to Utah next week before making his final decision right around National Signing Day on Feb. 1.

Utah’s campus will be crowded with high school football seniors next weekend as Kamehameha’s Andrew Aleki and Kahuku’s Aliki Vimahi will also trip to the Utes that weekend.

Unutoa (11 offers), Vimahi (12) and Aleki (eight) are three of the seven best uncommitted Hawaii high school seniors in the game. Leilehua’s Charles Watson will choose between Oregon State and BYU and make his announcement during the game, as will Saint Louis linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia, who was recently offered by Oregon.

Other players to watch as signing day nears includes the top two uncommitted players from Hawaii in terms of offers. Punahou defensive end Miki Suguturaga (6-5, 260) and Kapolei defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (6-4, 260) will both choose from a list of 14 different schools.

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