By Jason Vondersmith, The Tribune (Portland)
(PORTLAND, Ore.) 23 June 2006 -- It’s a thrill for Hoseki Kofe to be playing for the North team in tonight’s Les Schwab Bowl football game at PGE Park. An even bigger thrill will come next month for the soft-spoken Jefferson Democrat.
Kofe has made the USA Rugby U-19 team and will travel to Guyana for an international, world-qualifying tournament July 8 through July 16. Kofe made the team after playing for the Pacific Northwest entry in last weekend’s national trials in Colorado.
Of Tongan descent, Kofe hopes to stick with USA Rugby and play in the U-19 World Cup next year. But he also plans to attend Southern Oregon University on a football scholarship.
“Transitioning from rugby to football is hard,” he says. “I’m going to ask my (SOU) coach if I can also play rugby, but he probably won’t let me.
“My parents want me to play football; they see it as a better opportunity for me in America,” he adds. “My goal is pros in football, but, if not, then pro in rugby. My goal is to play in New Zealand.”
Kofe played running back and defensive end for the Democrats, and he will play end for the North team in the 59th annual all-star game, which kicks off at 7 tonight. “I just have to use my speed against offensive tackles,” the 6-foot, 205-pound Kofe says.
He and Josh Bernstein, his North teammate and a Grant graduate, helped the Eastside Portland Monkeys win three consecutive state rugby championships and place third in this year’s Pacific Northwest championships in Olympia, Wash.
Playing outside center in rugby, Kofe’s main job is to break through the line with the ball.
“He runs so hard. It takes a lot of guys to take him down,” Eastside coach Jim Brown says. “And he has good awareness of when to get rid of the ball.”
“He’s an elusive and powerful runner,” adds Salty Thompson, coach of the U-19 team. “He can run over you or around you, and he knows how to pass. I’m very impressed.”
Jefferson graduate helps U-19 rugby team
Hoseki Kofe, a 2006 Jefferson High School graduate who plans to attend Southern Oregon on a football scholarship, helped the USA Rugby under-19 team clinch a berth in next year's U-19 World Cup by winning a tournament last week in Georgetown, Guyana.
The United States defeated Guyana 86-0 in the final of the North American West Indies Rugby Association championships. The United States also beat the Cayman Islands 37-0 and Jamaica 45-3 at the tournament.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Kofe scored the team's third try in the win over the Cayman Islands. He also scored a try against Guyana.Kofe was selected to the U.S. U-19 team after playing for an Oregon/Washington team at a national trial tournament in Colorado in June. He was a running back and linebacker for Jefferson and played in the Les Schwab Bowl last month.