Playing 2019 Polynesian Bowl at Aloha Stadium is ‘special’ for local players

Playing 2019 Polynesian Bowl at Aloha Stadium is 'special' for local players

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some of the best high school football players from across the country got a sneak peak of where they’ll play the 2019 Polynesian Bowl this morning during the first day of bowl week practices.

Both Team Makai and Team Mauka took to the field at Aloha Stadium decked out in their practice jerseys in preparation for this Saturday’s all-star game.

For most of the players on the field, it was an opportunity to walk out of the same tunnel that former NFL legends went through for the Pro Bowl. For some, following in the footsteps of former Rainbow Warrior greats.

But for Kahuku offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi, it was a surreal experience seeing his high school career come full circle.

“I both started and finished my high school career here, so it’s kind of sentimental to me,” he said. “Just growing up in my backyard over here, so getting to finish it here is for very special for us and the rest of the Hawaii boys.”

While both teams rosters are a mix of players from the islands and from the mainland, there is certainly some pride on the line during this week’s practices. There is an underlying feel of “Hawaii vs. Everybody” for some local players, who are using this week’s practices to prove that Hawaii high school football is just as good as anywhere else in the country.

“It’s just good to get us Hawaii guys against all those mainland guys and just show them what we have,” said Punahou safety Kaulana Makaula.

While there is certainly a level of respect and admiration shown between local and mainland players, the level of competition -- even in an all-star game -- remains high.

“It’s gonna be an amazing experience,” Makaula. “Couple years ago, watching other guys that I look up to playing in this bowl game, seeing where they’re at now, just me being in this moment now is truly amazing.”

The 2019 Polynesian Bowl takes place this Saturday at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

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