Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • April 13, 2021
Rainbow Warriors’ 8 True Freshmen From Hawaii Are Adjusting To The College Football Scene

Eight athletes who played Hawaii high school football in the 2019 season as seniors are on the University of Hawaii roster in 2020.

The Rainbow Warriors have a scheduled game Oct. 24 at Fresno State — the season opener during this COVID-19 abbreviated season. That, folks, is only three weeks away.

The game is still on, according to UH sports information director Derek Inouchi, despite the fact that all team activities were suspended temporarily on Wednesday, when four players tested positive for COVID-19.

In the coming weeks, after practice resumes, Bedrock Sports Hawaii hopes to find out from the coaches how the eight true freshman are doing as far as fitting in and working their way toward playing time. All eight were standouts during their high school careers here.

The eight true freshman from Hawaii high schools are:

>> Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala, WR, 5-10, 175 (Campbell High, from Kapolei)
>> Ezra Evaimalo, DL, 6-1, 245 (Kamehameha, from Waianae)
>> Kilohana Haasenritter, WR, 6-0, 190 (Hilo High, from Hilo)
>> Sergio Muasau, OL, 6-0, 340 (Mililani High, from Ewa Beach)
>> Koali Nishigaya, RB, 5-8, 160 pounds (Saint Louis School, from Waipahu)
>> Asher Pilanca, DB, 6-0, 175 (Mililani High, from Mililani)
>> Ka’eo Rezentes, PK, 6-2, 180 (Kamehameha, from Kapaa)
>> Micah Soliai-Howlett, OL, 6-3, 310 (Kahuku High, from Laie)

As a slotback, Nishigaya was a key member of Saint Louis’ Open Division state championship team last fall. He caught 79 passes for 1,020 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 154 yards and another seven TDs. He finished his high school career with 147 catches and for 1,929 receiving yards and 15 receiving TDs (22 overall).

Koali Nishigaya pushed for more yardage against Mililani last season. (Photo from USA Today)

Muasau is the brother of Rainbow Warriors linebacker Darius Muasau, who also came to UH by way of Mililani.

Mokiao-Atimalala had a stellar four-year career — for the Sabers in 2018 and ’19 after transferring from Kapolei, where he suited up in 2016 and ’17. All told, he caught 142 passes for 1,720 yards and 23 TDs. But in his later years, he was doing double duty, lining up as a safety on defense for coach Darren Johnson’s Campbell squad.

Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala, now a University of Hawaii true freshman receiver, played all four years on varsity teams in high school — two at Kapolei and two at Campbell. (Photo from Rivals)

The sweepstakes are on for Mokiao-Atimalala’s brother Titus, who has played one year and Kapolei and two at Campbell so far. If he gets to play his senior season in these COVID-19 times, he has a chance to surpass the all-time Hawaii high school receiving record. Titus already has 2,915 receiving yards, less than 600 yards from Kanawai Noa’s mark of 3,510 for Punahou from 2012 to ’14.

Titus has 20 Division I FBS college offers, including from Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Oregon and Washington.

Hassentritter was on Hilo’s Division I (middle tier) state championship team in 2019.

A total of 45 of the 116-man (38.7 percent) UH roster suited up for Hawaii teams in high school over the past half decade. Two others are from Hawaii, but went to school on the mainland.

As mentioned earlier, the Rainbow Warriors’ game at Fresno State on Oct. 24 is still on.

“This “outbreak” is the first for our football team, so we are taking extra precautions,” Inouchi wrote in an email to Bedrock Sports Hawaii. “The entire team was tested as part of our weekly testing program with four positive results. We paused team activities following (Wednesday’s) announcement and I do not have a timetable for our return to the practice field. As much as possible, the team is following all safety protocols, meeting outdoors or on Zoom, no use of locker room facilities, and grab-and-go meals.”

The Rainbow Warriors have six Mountain West Conference games scheduled (all starting times are still to be determined). It has not known yet if the home games will be played in front of fans.

Hawaii’s Abbreviated 2020 Football Schedule

>> Oct. 24, at Fresno State
>> Oct. 31, at Wyoming
>> Nov. 7, vs. New Mexico, at Aloha Stadium
>> Nov. 14, at San Diego State
>> Nov. 21, vs. Boise State, at Aloha Stadium
>> Nov. 28, vs. Nevada, at Aloha Stadium

On Friday, according to YahooSports.com, ESPN canceled two bowl games, including the Hawaii Bowl that was supposed to be played Christmas Eve.

UH has played in nine of the 18 Hawaii Bowls dating back to the inaugural one in 2002, going 5-4 in that span. In all bowl games, Hawaii is 7-6.


The Rainbow Warriors’ bowl history follows:

Aloha Bowl
>> Dec. 25, 1989: Michigan State 33, Hawaii 13 (at Aloha Stadium)

Holiday Bowl
>> Dec. 30, 1992: Hawaii 27, Illinois 17 (at Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego)

Oahu Bowl
>> Dec. 25, 1999: Hawaii 23, Oregon State 17 (at Aloha Stadium)

Sugar Bowl
>> Jan. 1, 2008: Georgia 41, Hawaii 10 (at Louisiana Superdome)

Hawaii Bowl
>> Dec. 25, 2002: Tulane 36, Hawaii 28 (at Aloha Stadium)
>> Dec. 25, 2003: Hawaii 54, Houston 48, 3OT (at Aloha Stadium)+
>> Dec. 24, 2004: Hawaii 59, UAB 40 (at Aloha Stadium)
>> Dec. 24, 2005: Hawaii 41, Arizona State 24 (at Aloha Stadium)
>> Dec. 24, 2008: Notre Dame 49, Hawaii 21 (at Aloha Stadium)
>> Dec. 24, 2010: Tulsa 62, Hawaii 35 (at Aloha Stadium)
>> Dec. 24, 2016: Hawaii 52, Middle Tennessee 35 (at Aloha Stadium)”
>> Dec. 24, 2018: LaTech 31, Hawaii 14 (at Aloha Stadium)
>> Dec. 24, 2019: Hawaii 38, BYU 34 (at Aloha Stadium)


ALSO ART BEDROCKSPORTSHAWAII: Hilo And Waipahu’s Sean Saturnio Is Experiencing Glorious Days As An Army Football Assistant


The Top 10 Most-Read Stories At BedrockSportsHawaii.com:

As of Oct. 6, 2020

1. There Are Better Answers Than Suicide, Pearl City 
Football Player’s Family And Friends Reflect
(June 15)
2. Marlboro’s John Winske Is A Kentucky Derby-winning
Horse Owner And A Hoot And A Half
(Sept. 17)
3. Sacred Hearts Cheerleader Cayla Cabanban May Lose Out
On Dream Of Becoming A 4-Time State Champion
(Sept. 21)
4. A Big-Box Store, Patience and 2 University of Hawaii 
Freshmen Volleyball Players Intersect
(Sept. 1)
5. Hawaii Wrestlers Compete In College From Coast To Coast (Sept. 7)
6. High Tops and No Socks: An Ode To The Doctor (June 2)
7. The Spirited, Six-Decade Adventures Of Surfer Joe (July 13)
8. 4-Time State Champ ‘Peanut’ Terukina 
To Wrestle at Iowa State
(May 21)
9. NY Jets’ Leo Koloamatangi, The Former Hawaii Center, 
Is Assisting Kupuna With Food Delivery
(June 22)
10. Top 10 NHL Jerseys Project Nourishes Social ‘Closeness-ing’ (May 5)

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