Mataafa earns honors

Lahainaluna graduate named to Pac-12 first team, is Polynesian POY finalist

Washington State’s Hercules Mataafa tries to bring down Montana State quarterback Chris Murray during the Cougars’ 31-0 victory over the Bobcats on Sept. 2. Mataafa finished the season with 21.5 tackles for loss, including 9.5 sacks, both tops in the Pac-12. AP file photo

The Maui News

Washington State University defensive lineman Hercules Mataafa was named a finalist for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award on Tuesday, and later in the day was named to the Pac-12 first team as the conference announced its postseason awards.

Mataafa, a 6-foot-2, 252-pound junior who graduated from Lahainaluna High School, posted 43 total tackles, 30 solo. He led the Pac-12 with 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, and earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors after having five tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the Cougars’ 33-25 win over Utah on Nov. 11.

Mataafa was named a finalist for Polynesian Player of the Year along with Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai, Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, Virginia Tech linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka and Oregon State linebacker Manase Hungalu. The winner will be announced Dec. 12.

Vea beat out Mataafa for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Other awards went to Stanford’s Bryce Love (Offensive Player of the Year), Arizona’s J.J. Taylor and Stanford’s Walker Little (Freshmen Offensive Players of the Year), Arizona’s Colin Schooler (Freshman Defensive Player of the Year) and Stanford’s David Shaw (Coach of the Year).


Washington State, ranked No. 21 by The Associated Press, will face No. 16 Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Diego, however Mataafa has to sit out the first half of the bowl game after being ejected for targeting in the Cougars’ season-ending loss to Washington.