by Brian Vitolio
Fans came in numbers over the weekend to watch the powerhouses of local high school football take on one another with Samoana facing off against Tafuna and the Lions playing in a repeat of the last two title games against the Vikings last Saturday.
Among those fans was Ikaika Malloe, a University of Hawaii defensive tackles coach, special teams coordinator and also football recruiter, arriving in American Samoa last Thursday for his first ever visit expressly for last Saturday's games.
"I couldn't have come on a better weekend," Malloe said at Veterans Memorial Stadium while awaiting the varsity match between the Fa'asao/Marist Crusaders and Nu'uuli Voc-Tech Wildcats by taking in the junior varsity game between the Vikings and Wildcats last Friday. "This is the reason why I came this weekend and I will probably leave here with 10 to 15 players to evaluate of each perspective position."
He left the territory last night and will be back for possibly two more trips within the current school year. NCAA rules bar any scout or recruiter from revealing names of high school players that are of interest to them.
Because he is of Tahitian and Hawaiian lineage Malloe was naturally selected by his former employers - UTEP for four years and Western Illinois for two - and Hawaii to recruit from "any areas that are heavily populated with Polynesians."
Some of these areas include Sacramento and Fresno, California, Samoa, New Zealand, American Samoa and his home state of Hawaii.
"There's no secret to recruiting," Malloe said. "I'm the reflection of the program so it's my job to sell the school to them and create a good relationship with the player and their coach."
His ethnicity is a plus with parents also.
"For the most part parents are always excited when a Polynesian coach is recruiting," he explained, "that's one of the advantages."
Malloe said that "over 85%" of their players are of Polynesian descent and there are five coaches on the University of Hawaii football staff.
"The one thing about Polynesian players is their toughness and playing with a lot of heart," the coach said. "I believe that comes from their upbringing, you never have to question their toughness. Size for us is huge, especially for the offensive linemen and linebackers. This is what (American) Samoa can provide for us."
The UH coach said he plans on keeping tabs with the coaches for updates on the players of interest to UH, and on his next trip he said he will be doing "some home visits with the families."
Malloe is a graduate of Kamehameha High School and according to his bio on the UH football page (www.hawaiiathletics.com), he lettered in football and basketball. As a senior in 1992 he helped guide his basketball team to the state championship as its point guard.
He went on to the University of Washington where he was a starter at the free and strong safety positions as well as outside linebacker and also did time with the special teams unit. It also states in the bio that he "was recognized Huskies' hardest hitter from 1994-96" and led the team his junior year with six interceptions.
Malloe told Samoa News that he tore his ACL during his college career and soon after that started his coaching career as a student assistant with his alma mater, working with the linebackers. From 1998-99, as a graduate assistant, he helped out with the defensive line and special teams and later, said his bio, became the "program coordinator and was involved with recruiting evaluation and computer breakdown for defense and special teams.
After his stints at UTEP and Western Illinois, Malloe joined the UH's coaching staff last January.
Malloe said that he was supposed to have come with the UH group of coaches that were part of the June Jones Football Camp held in the territory this past June. However, he had just returned to Hawaii from a long recruiting trip to the mainland and begged off of it so that he could spend some time with his wife Tara, also from Hawaii, and their three children - daughter Taylor, 8, and sons Jordan, 7, and Isaiah, 4.
He went on to say that he felt at home here in the territory in this first visit of his and on his next one he plans on bringing his wife Tara.
"The last time someone from here came up was Larry Sauafea and we have to come out here and keep the tradition going," he pointed out. "The coaches have been very welcoming and the reception here has been awesome. I feel very much at home here."
They are not limited to recruiting only football players, added Malloe, but also to give "opportunities for other sports."
"We will be working with the Purcells (Melila & Moana) in that area," he explained.
He went on to say that UH can also use its networking to send players to other places such as junior colleges.
"That's one of the advantages with this because we have a lot of friends in other programs and for me, I would love to spread the word or whatever the case may be."
The Warriors had a bye weekend and so far are 1-2, having lost to fourth ranked Florida 56-10 and Oregon State 45-7, led by quarterback Lyle Moevao. Their lone win came against Weber State, 36-17.This week they begin defense of their WAC title, hosting San Jose State at Aloha Stadium.