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Valladares Drafted as One of 84 in Polynesian Bowl

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By Cameryn Oshiro
[email protected]

(Photo courtesy of Darren Oganeku) From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser 2016 First and Second All-State Football Teams, a minimum of 24 high school seniors were chosen.

The 2017 Polynesian Bowl, played on Jan. 21 at the Aloha Stadium kicked off the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend. Created by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, the bowl drafts and showcases

all-star high school football players of Polynesian heritage and other ancestries, including MHS’ Wide Receiver and Running Back Senior Andrew Valladares. The two teams that went head to head this year were teams led by Marcus Mariota-Inaugural Polynesian Football Player of the Year and Ronnie Stanley-Polynesian Player of 2015, with the latter triumphant, ending the game with a final score of 9-7.

“My experience playing in the Polynesian Bowl was fun. I made a lot of new friends and learned a lot of new things from (all different) coaches,” expressed Valladares. Valladares was drafted by Team Stanley and played among 83 other nationally ranked high school players.

The game honors the Polynesian culture by bringing in young football players of Polynesian heritage from across the nation together, along with inducting past football players into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. “The two people who were getting inducted in the Polynesian Hall of Fame was our very own Maa Tanuvasa and Jesse Sapolu. They were announcing the names (of the players) by position and I was just happy to be drafted,” said Valladares who is of Hawaiian, Maori and Tahitian heritage.

From every perspective, the Polynesian Bowl showcases the uniqueness of the culture while highlighting the talent of the young football players. Aloha Stadium Manager, Ryan G. Andrews, expressed, “From a stadium perspective, we were honored to host an event that showcases the high school all-star athletes of Polynesian heritage (and other ancestries as well). It provides a great event for families to attend and enjoy and we look forward to future games. It’s also important to note that this game is just one part of a series of events connected to the Polynesian Hall of Fame.”

From a spectators view, Donna-Lei Downey, expressed her take on the honorary event. “The Polynesian Bowl was established by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame to showcase high school all-star athletes from across the nation in the first-of-its-kind Inaugural Battle on the Gridiron. What made this game unique was the opportunity for a select group of Hawaii players to be able to compete at this elite level and to play in front of their family and friends at the Aloha Stadium,” stated Downey. “Additionally, not only were the players of high caliber, but the majority of the players were also of Polynesian heritage. This was an important element because being able to play at ‘home’ allowed current NFL players and Team Captains Marcus Mariota (Titans Quarter Back) and Ronnie Stanley (Ravens Offensive Tackle) the opportunity to give back to Hawaii and the community. Furthermore, the Polynesian Bowl supported the dream of being a professional athlete as an attainable goal for all keiki. The game was also televised nationally on ESPN, allowing viewers across the nation the opportunity to see our beautiful islands and to witness the amazing football talents of Hawaii’s Polynesian football players.”

Unlike any other major sport event, the bowl is played to show the unique characteristics of Polynesian culture. “One thing that I try to instill in my children is to be proud of who they are. Being of Polynesian heritage  is such a rare and tremendous honor. Being able to share the strength of character, to show intelligence, artistic talents and athletic abilities help break stereotypes and create opportunities for learning and building positive relationships,” said Downey.

Like every other football game and showcase at the Aloha Stadium, preparation is priority and key to achieving a spectacular event. “The stadium events team worked with the coordinators of the Polynesian Bowl to ensure we could accommodate all pre-event and event day requests and needs. This includes identifying the specific areas of the stadium that are needed, including locker rooms, press boxes, the number of restrooms and concessions needing to be open, etc. We project expenses to operate the event and work with the licensee (Polynesian Bowl) on a contract to ensure all details for successfully operating the event are addressed. The stadium is also tasked with ensuring we are staffed appropriately on game day with enough personnel to cover parking, ticketing, ushering, vending, field crew, scoreboard, security, medical staff, etc.,” stated Andrews.

As the class of 2017 graduates this year, the Polynesian Bowl drafting committee will be in search of upcoming senior football all-star players across the nation who are willing to play for their heritage and the sport in the upcoming 2018 Polynesian Bowl.

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Valladares Drafted as One of 84 in Polynesian Bowl