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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Na Ali'i defensive line cooking

Lagafuaina, Foumai will anchor Aiea in White title game with Moanalua

By stacy kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

'AIEA—Someday, 'Aiea Nä Ali'i senior defensive tackle Lawrence Lagafuaina would like to be a chef of his own restaurant.

But the only menu he's concerned about this week is what Moanalua has in store for tomorrow's O'ahu Interscholastic Association White football championship at Aloha Stadium.

"It's another step in building 'Aiea's football program," the 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman said of the title game.

Moanalua (9-1), the top seed of the four-team White playoffs, beat 'Aiea, 31-14, during their regular season meeting Oct. 16. Unlike that game, Lagafuaina is expected to play. He missed the last meeting with an ankle injury that he was still rehabilitating yesterday.

Whether Lagafuaina's presence will make a difference remains to be seen. Nonetheless, he is expected to draw attention from Moanalua or college scouts for that matter.

Lagafuaina is one of the state's top Division I recruits this year. He already has scholarship offers from Hawai'i, Washington, Nevada-Las Vegas, UCLA and Wyoming. He has a scheduled recruiting visit to UH the weekend the Warriors play Wisconsin (Dec. 5).

"Lawrence is a big boy, but is very athletic for his size," 'Aiea coach Wendell Say said. "Not too many guys who weigh 300 pounds can move the way he does."

Just how athletic is he? He and defensive end Api Foumai (6-2, 240) also play basketball. Lagafuaina also competes in the shot put and discus in track and field.

"His lower body is very explosive," Say added of Lagafuaina.

Lagafuaina, who is ranked 11th in rivals.com's Hawai'i prospects rankings, attended summer football camps at Washington and Southern California, as well as the AIGA Foundation camp in California and All-Poly Camp that was held here.

The camps gave him a glimpse of the competition he would be up against in college.

"It was a good experience seeing other players who were way taller than me. I was glad I went up there because over here, we don't have that many tall guys. I was glad I went up there for those camps to show me what I have to go against if I play at the next level."

At 6-1, he is considered short for his position, so he knows what he needs to improve on.

"I have to work on my speed," he said. "It's the only way I can accomplish things going against these kind of (taller) guys."

The attention to Lagafuaina's abilities came on suddenly, he said.

"The ending of my junior year, that's when everything started turning out," he said. "When I was a freshman, I really wasn't thinking about college. I was just going to play football and that was going to be it."

A beneficiary of attention drawn by Lagafuaina is Foumai.

"When coaches come to see Lawrence, they go, 'Whoa, who's this kid?' " Say said. "And they're more happy when they see his transcripts."

That's because Foumai carries a 3.4 cumulative grade point average. Foumai said he hasn't received any offers yet, but UH, San Diego State, Utah State, Washington State and Wyoming have shown interest.

"It's always been a dream of mine since I was little," Foumai said of playing football in college.

While Lagafuaina is a little further along, as far as being ready for Division I, Say said Foumai's potential is likely to show up later.

"I tell colleges, his best years are ahead of him," Say said of Foumai. "He's just learning the game. With his ability, the future's really good for him."

Lagafuaina said he still needs to work on his SAT, while Foumai said he wants to improve on his scores. They will take a test on Saturday.

Foumai said he is still undecided on a course of study. Lagafuaina has been asking colleges who are interested in him if they have culinary arts programs.

Lagafuaina said he would eventually like to open a restaurant that serves local food on the Mainland.

"I want to take the Islands' taste there," he said.

So would a lot of football programs.

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