Editor’s note: All Cover2 Award finalists were eligible to win the inaugural Marcus Mariota Award. The criteria included athletics, academics, and character. A winner was selected by a Cover2 Mariota Award panel and the Mariota family.
August 15, 2013: A star was born when then-15-year-old Mililani sophomore running back Vavae Malepeai punished Punahou, then the top-ranked team in Hawaii, on statewide television with 140 yards and two touchdowns.
In the 826 days since then, Malepeai’s moves have become sweet as malasadas, as he became the state’s all-time leader in touchdowns and yards.
Let’s take a trip On Campus and visit the next in line in the Hawaii to Oregon pipeline, your Marcus Mariota Player of the Year Award winner Vavae Malepeai.
Smooth as coconut butter, faster than a heartbeat on a cup of Kona coffee, Malepeai’s legendary work ethic is what brought him to 4,428 yards and 71 touchdowns, imprinting the Malepeai name in the record books with an anvil.
The Malepeai ohana is also home to Leiloa, a special needs student. Through long days of workouts, class, practice, and homework, Malepeai finds time to care for his brother.
Malepeai is unique enough to break down barriers for Hawaii, like Mariota. This year, he became the first local running back to ever receive an invitation to Nike’s The Opening camp as well as the Army All-American game.
Now, the future Oregon Duck wants to spread Mariota’s message of endless dreams to young stargazers watching him play.
When we close the book on Malepeai’s high school legacy, the script will only read five words: The greatest of all time.