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Muagututia helping Maui football players get noticed

Muagututia

Halakilangi Frank Muagututia has been on Maui for less than two years, but his impact on the island’s high school football scene has been immediate — and large.

The man known as “Hala” to his friends on the Valley Isle created Polynesian Triangle Foundation & Training in Northern California, and since his move, the organization has helped two Maui football players gain NCAA Division I scholarships — Maui High School linebacker Feleti Afemui, who signed with Vanderbilt in February, and Makana Fraser, who attended King Kekaulike before moving to the Big Island and will be a senior linebacker in the fall at Texas-El Paso. Other players with whom Muagututia has worked, meanwhile, are also receiving offers.

Muagututia — who played collegiately at UTEP and professionally in the Canadian Football League, Arena Football League and XFL, as well as for the Hawaii Islanders in AFL2 — started his training work on Maui in girls volleyball.

“I met some of the cousins of these girls that I trained — that’s when we started with Feleti,” said Muagututia, who works as a victim witness counselor for the Maui County prosecutors office. “Next thing you know, the word got out and I started calling my friends of what I’ve seen with these guys. That’s how Feleti got his. Next thing you know, I started Poly Triangle here.”

The group will conduct a camp Saturday at Seabury Hall in Olinda, and an impressive list of coaches and players are scheduled to attend. Registration is still available at polytriangle.com — the fee is $25 today and $40 afterward.

Youth players will sign in at 8 a.m. and their clinic will run from 9 to 11. High school players will register at 10 and their clinic will go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Clinic coaches include Afemui, Todd Watkins, who spent two seasons as an NFL wide receiver, and former college standouts Brian Ah Yat, JoJo Dickson, Joe Siofele, Vaka Manupuna, Kamaloni Vainikolo and Angelo Pree. Several Maui Interscholastic League coaches are also expected.

Lenora Muagututia, Hala’s wife, will run an informational session for parents on preparing for college football.

California’s Merlin Robertson, a five-star prospect from Serra High School, is expected to participate in the camp, as is freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei of St. John Bosco, named the top prospect in his class by several recruiting services and a recipient of offers from Oregon and Alabama.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do when I came to Maui,” Hala Muagututia said. “Now I feel like this is what I was meant to do here. … I feel like this is the beginning of something. … My whole deal was: ‘Man, if you guys are ready for exposure, I’m going to bring it.’ “

Muagututia helped Fraser earn a scholarship at UTEP after he played on two winless teams at Phoenix (Ariz.) College.

Sione Lolohea, a current Maui High freshman, got an offer from Brigham Young as an 8th-grader with Muagututia’s assistance.

Lahaina 8th-grader A.J. Bianco recently received a scholarship offer from the University of Hawaii.

Seabury junior Chase Granum became the first athlete from the MIL eight-player ranks to receive an NCAA Division I scholarship offer when he got one from Navy a little over a month ago.

“The whole Poly Triangle, they have just helped me so much, the motivation that is there, all those guys surrounding you,” Granum said. “Honestly, I’ve had people tell me, ‘Why waste your time playing football? You’re not going to be able to do that.’ To have these guys tell me, ‘Yeah, you can do that,’ that helped me a lot.’ “

Granum has grown from 195 pounds as a freshman to 270 today, and plays tight end and defensive end.

“He’s come a long way and he’s still got a lot of work to do,” Muagututia said. “The thing about Chase is he works hard and that’s the difference. He’s always trying to be better, he’s consistent. He’s not the most athletic guy, but his hard work is what I think got him that (Navy) offer.”

The camp and college offers are high-profile results of the work players do with Muagututia, who coordinates drills five days a week — Mondays and Wednesdays at War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku, and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Seabury.

Whatever name he goes by, he has become a familiar face for many Maui athletes.

“Everybody here knows me as Hala, but when some of my friends, college scouts, come, they all know me as Frank,” Muagututia said. “They all look around and say, ‘Who’s coach Hala?’ I’m like, ‘Man, that’s what they call me here.’ “

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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