Radford graduate, former University of Hawaii quarterback and current Naval Academy head coach Ken Niumatalolo has the Midshipmen off to a 3-0 start, 2-0 in the American Athletic Conference with wins over East Carolina and Connecticut.
However, the 50th state’s representation on the blue and gold goes far beyond the head coach.
There are four players on the roster from the 808 including starting center Blaze Ryder. The Kaneohe native and Kamehameha graduate is joined by junior kicker Kamehameha’s DJ Grant-Johnson, Campbell graduate and freshman offensive lineman Adam Amosa, and senior linebacker Kikau Pescaia, also of Kamehameha.
Alongside Coach Niumatalolo is another former UH quarterback, offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper who, after successfully running the triple option at the University of Hawaii under then-offensive coordinator and current Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson, is still running the package familiar to Rainbow fans of the ’80s and ’90s.
“The thing that we always laugh about is that we’re running the same plays, my man. Same plays from back when I played in the offense. It goes to show that when you have a system, your kids believe in it, you know, and you preach it every single day and you sell it to them, you can be successful. But again, it’s the same offense. We’ve added a few things here and there but to see our base stuff still working, still being effective, that’s the best part about it,” said Jasper
In recent years, Niumatalolo has said that once his contract is up at Navy, he would like to return home to Hawaii’s North Shore. Navy has not released the length of his contract, but when asked by KHON2’s Spencer Honda what his long-term plans are, Jasper said:
“I love this game. I love football. You know, football got me out of a tough situation back in Los Angeles growing up in the Watts area and it got me to paradise in Hawaii, so I love the game. I just want to do a great job right now, win games so I can keep my current job. I’m not looking for a job. I’m trying to keep my current job. When that time comes, hopefully people look at my body of work and say, hey, give this guy a chance. But if not, I’ll find a job somewhere and keep coaching football. I just love the game.”
This Saturday at 9:30 a.m. HST on the CBS Sports Network, Navy faces service academy rival Air Force.
Navy has held the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy as the nation’s top service academy football team in nine of the past 12 years, winning 22 of 25 games against Air Force and Army during that span.
Last year, however, Air Force took home the crown by beating the Midshipmen, 30-21, and then taking down Army, 23-6.