Five Sun Devils home for holidays
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Leila Wai
When their Arizona State teammates are boarding the plane back to Tempe, a select few will already be home celebrating the holidays with their families.
Five players with Hawai'i ties are members of the Sun Devils football team: offensive linemen Brandon Rodd and Shawn Lauvao, of 'Aiea and Farrington respectively; cornerback Chris Price of Hawai'i Prep; defensive end Alex Fa'agai, who was born and raised in Hawai'i and attended Waipahu as a freshman, and redshirt Ian Scheuring of Radford.
The team arrived in Honolulu on Monday to prepare for Sunday's Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl against Hawai'i. For Rodd and Scheuring, this week marks the first time they are stepping inside Aloha Stadium since their graduation.
It won't be quite as jovial this time.
"I think it's going to be fun, me and Ian went to rival high schools, and I graduated in the stadium," said Rodd, a Pac-10 honorable-mention selection this season. "It's going to be weird, because it's going to be the first time I'm going to be the enemy."
He expects the last game of the season to be meaningful because the team wants to send coach Dirk Koetter out with a win. He is confused about the decision to fire Koetter, who will lead the Sun Devils in his final game Sunday.
"I don't know, with all the injuries we've had, we still have a winning record," Rodd said. "If you look at our team, halfway through the season, that was our entire second team (on the field). We still found a way to win.
"The only way we can show respect is to go out and play hard for him."
Two of Rodd's former Na Ali'i teammates play for the Warriors: R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane and Rocky Savaiigaea.
"I called Rocky up the minute I found out, and we already started talking trash," Rodd said.
Rodd grew up a fan of the Hawai'i football team, and said: "I root for Hawai'i when we don't play them. I used to live next to Ice Palace. I was recruited heavily by them, but I just couldn't stay home."
Like Rodd, Scheuring was a fan of UH. "Growing up in Hawai'i, we don't have a pro sports team," he said. "Even though I'm at ASU, they are always going to be my sports team."
The excitement for the homecoming is evident among the Hawai'i players returning home. As Scheuring put it last week, "it can't come soon enough."
But Lauvao said that while he is excited, "I'm not going to lie. I really wanted to go to Hawai'i, but it was going home. We really thought we were going to the Las Vegas Bowl. I've never been to Vegas. But after we found out where we were going, I was really excited."
Lauvao, who hasn't been home in "seven or eight months," said his parents are "ecstatic" about his homecoming.
For Scheuring, coming home meant mixed results.
"Coming home meant we were sixth place in the Pac-10. But coming home for Christmas, it doesn't get any better than that," he said.
He kept up with Hawai'i during the season, and mentioned Colt Brennan and how impressive Hawai'i's record was this year.
Fa'agai, who was born and raised in Waipahu before moving to California, said he visited family in Hawai'i a couple months ago for the first time since 2000.
"It's a blessing. I wanted to go to Hawai'i," he said. "I already have my surf shorts ready. These guys are scared to jump off the first board at the pool. I can't wait to take them to Waimea."
Rodd is happy to pay back teammates and roommates Brent and Zach Miller, who are from Arizona. Zach is an Associated Press All-America second-team member and was one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, for the nation's top tight end.
"It's going to be great because they've taken care of me here, and I get to show them Hawai'i," he said.
Reach Leila Wai at firstname.lastname@example.org.