By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Fulfilling the wishes of his late grandfather and his own childhood dream, running back Josh Galeai of Palomar College in California has decided to accept a football scholarship from the University of Hawaii.
"I want to be back in Hawaii," Galeai told The Advertiser. "I love the place. I belong there."
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Galeai, who turned down offers from Texas-El Paso and Baylor, has strong ties to the Islands. He was born at the old Kaiser Hospital in Waikiki and he lived in Laie until six years ago, when his family moved to the Mainland. Several relatives live in Laie and Haleiwa. His cousin is Ray Galeai, a former Kahuku High standout.
Meanwhile, two current Kahuku High players have decided to continue their careers on the Mainland. Advertiser All-State receiver Saia Hafoka has verbally committed to Brigham Young University and linebacker Semisi Livai is heading to Utah.
Galeais parents are Brigham Young-Hawaii graduates. His father is the director of Pacific Studies at San Diego State; his mother is a teacher at a middle school in Oceanside, Calif.
But, his mother Roxanne said, "Hawaii is where the heart is."
Galeai, who was not offered a scholarship by UH as a high school senior in 1998, originally signed with Boise State. He spent his only year there as a redshirt before transferring to Palomar.
Last season, he was Palomars leading rusher, gaining more than 700 yards, while playing in an offensive system in which four running backs split playing time.
He will earn his associates degree in May, and will have two years to play two seasons. He said he will move to Hawaii this summer.
Edward Forsythe, who died last year, had wanted his grandson to play for the Warriors.
"I wanted to be back in the Islands, too," Galeai said.
The UH coaches were alerted to Galeais interest in the program last year. After reviewing videotape, the coaches decided to extend a scholarship offer.
Galeai can bench press 225 pounds 21 times. He once was clocked at 4.58 seconds over 40 yards, although he said, "4.6 is my basic time."
Roxanne Galeai said her son surfs, sings and fixes radios and computers. "He likes to take things apart and put them back together, always trying to improve things," she said. "Hes very smart."
Hafoka, who is 5 foot 10 and 165 pounds, was the second-leading receiver in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference with 553 yards on 23 catches in eight games. He scored five touchdowns. He will go from an offense that primarily runs to one that will throw the ball.
"They run four or five receivers out at a time," Hafoka said of BYU.
Added Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai: "He should do good. He fits into the offense BYU runs."
Hafoka said he has attended summer football camps at BYU and Utah the past three years. A devout Mormon, Hafoka said he will take a church mission his first two years before starting his athletic eligibility.
Semisi Livai, who is 6 feet and 200 pounds, will join older brother, offensive lineman Siuaki Livai Jr., at Utah.
"That was my main reason" for choosing Utah, Semisi said. "I wanted to play with my brother."
Siuaki Livai Jr., a 1999 Kahuku graduate, is currently completing his church mission.
Semisi is familiar with the Utah campus, having attended summer camps there four times.
"Hes tough against the run and pretty smart," said his coach and father Siuaki Sr. "He has good work habits, which is his strength. That will pay off for him in the long run."
Two other Kahuku players lineman Chris Kemoeatu, The Advertisers State Defensive Player of the Year, and safety Aaron Francisco are still undecided on their college plans. This weekend, Kemoeatu will visit Nebraska and Francisco will go to Arizona.
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