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Athlete Worth Watching: Ali'i Niumatalolo

Nov 12, 2015 09:39AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

by By Tom Worgo

Broadneck High School // Football

For the past three seasons, senior Ali’i Niumatalolo has been a big hitter for the Broadneck High School football team. He’s a standout linebacker and the team captain. That last role shouldn’t be surprising, given that his father is Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo.

His father’s experience and advice have been a tremendous help during his development as a player, and now he’s ready for the next step—playing college football for a well-respected program.

Ali’i (pronounced A-Lee-e) says he has received some attractive scholarship offers from seven schools including Connecticut, Boise State, Marshall, Nevada, Buffalo, Bowling Green, and Miami of Ohio.

“I am waiting on a few other schools,” Ali’i says, noting he has been aggressively recruited by Maryland, Penn State, and Utah, but won’t likely make a decision until after the fall season. “I am thinking I am going to get those offers if I play well this fall.”

The 17-year-old is willing to wait for more offers because Maryland, Penn State, and Utah are the schools at the top of wish list. This much is certain: He’s not interested in playing for his father at the Naval Academy. It would be too much pressure.

“I know it would be a great opportunity, but I live like two minutes away from there,” says Ali’i, a St. Margaret’s resident whose brother Va’a also played linebacker at Broadneck and now suits up for Brigham Young. “Whatever happens, I am always going to be the son of Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. I just feel like if I stay here, I will be even more in his shadow.”

Ken Niumatalolo understands his son’s position.

“Both of my sons early on in their high school career said, ‘Dad, we are not playing for you,’” he explains. “Both of them had no interest in coming and playing for me. They would get tired of seeing me. I think it would have been cool, but you can’t force it.”

But even so, Ken Niumatalolo is still very involved in helping Ali’i find the right school. “I went with him on a few unofficial visits to different schools,” he says. “It’s neat for me to be on that side of the table. Usually, I am on the other side talking to recruits. I missed one of my recruiting days because I was at my son’s recruiting day. First and foremost, I am a dad. I have a lot of advice and opinions that I offer, but it’s ultimately his decision.”

Meanwhile, Ali’i’s stock seems to still be rising. College coaches have to be impressed with his tackling ability and outstanding speed. He runs a 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

“He is a very good run-stuffing linebacker,” Broadneck football coach Rob Harris says. “When he hits you, you are not getting any more yards. But he also drops into coverage well. He is the complete package. He is big, strong, fast, and mean.”

Ali had an impressive junior season. He racked up 108 tackles (nine for loss), four sacks, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. 

“He had four games of 17 tackles or more,” Harris says. “That’s pretty darn good.”

Making game-changing tackles is the favorite part of football for Ali’i, who played two years in the Cape St. Clair Cougars youth football program before joining Broadneck varsity as a freshman.

“I definitely want other teams to be scared of me,” he says. “It’s something I am always going for. When my teammates see me make a big hit and stop someone in their tracks, it helps boost them up.”

When he’s not playing or practicing for Broadneck, Ali’i spends as much time as he can around his father’s football team.

He’s learned so much about the game that way. “He sees how they work out,” Ken Niumatalolo says. “He sees how hard it is to play Division I football. He recognizes the preparation involved. He has a burning desire to be very good and he realizes it’s all about hard work. Just because he is my son doesn’t mean anything. He has to earn his own way.” 
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