KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello is in Arlington, Texas ahead of the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, Jan. 12.
That’s when Heisman Trophy winner and Saint Louis School graduate Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks take on the Ohio State Buckeyes at AT&T Stadium.
On his way to Texas, DeMello was able to catch up with Kalihi native and Arizona Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon, the last quarterback to beat the Ducks.
Solomon said of Mariota, “With this success it just motivates us as the younger Polynesian players to work hard and just do what he does. What he’s doing right now is truly awesome. He’s just setting the bar for us and we just gotta obtain and maintain that bar, and maybe raise it a little bit.”
As for what the Ducks need to do to beat the Buckeyes, “Just do what they keep doing. Ever since that loss, they kinda got lucky, but ever since that loss, they’ve been doing really well, blowing teams out by 20. Re-matching them, they blew us out,” Solomon said.
In addition to Mariota, the Ducks have five other Hawaii-born athletes on their roster; defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (Punahou), offensive lineman Davis Miyashiro-Saipaia (Punahou), linebacker Isaac Ava (Saint Louis) and defensive back Bronson Yim (Saint Louis), and tight end Koa Ka’ai (Kamehameha).
“(Buckner) brings a lot of tools to the defense. He’s very big, strong and lanky, and he brings a lot of things to the table that they can really use that kind of guy,” Solomon said. “The force out there, you know, he’s a monster. I played against him, so that kid is a good competitor and I wish the Ducks the best.”
Both the Ducks and Buckeyes arrive in Arlington Friday, and the first official event of the college playoff will be Saturday’s media day.
The game itself kicks off Monday at 3:30 p.m. Hawaii time on ESPN.