Hoseki Kofe has SOU football scholarship but wants to play rugby, too

It's a thrill for Hoseki Kofe to be playing for the North team in tonight's Les Schwab Bowl football game at PGE Park. An even bigger thrill will come next month for the soft-spoken Jefferson Democrat.

Kofe has made the USA Rugby U-19 team and will travel to Guyana for an international, world-qualifying tournament July 8 through July 16. Kofe made the team after playing for the Pacific Northwest entry in last weekend's national trials in Colorado.

Of Tongan descent, Kofe hopes to stick with USA Rugby and play in the U-19 World Cup next year. But he also plans to attend Southern Oregon University on a football scholarship.

'Transitioning from rugby to football is hard,' he says. 'I'm going to ask my (SOU) coach if I can also play rugby, but he probably won't let me.

'My parents want me to play football; they see it as a better opportunity for me in America,' he adds. 'My goal is pros in football, but, if not, then pro in rugby. My goal is to play in New Zealand.'

Kofe played running back and defensive end for the Democrats, and he will play end for the North team in the 59th annual all-star game, which kicks off at 7 tonight. 'I just have to use my speed against offensive tackles,' the 6-foot, 205-pound Kofe says.

He and Josh Bernstein, his North teammate and a Grant graduate, helped the Eastside Portland Monkeys win three consecutive state rugby championships and place third in this year's Pacific Northwest championships in Olympia, Wash.

Playing outside center in rugby, Kofe's main job is to break through the line with the ball.

'He runs so hard. It takes a lot of guys to take him down,' Eastside coach Jim Brown says. 'And he has good awareness of when to get rid of the ball.'

'He's an elusive and powerful runner,' adds Salty Thompson, coach of the U-19 team. 'He can run over you or around you, and he knows how to pass. I'm very impressed.'

nBo Thran, the Barlow star who also is on the North squad, plans to stay home this summer and play American Legion baseball, rather than move to Eugene for workouts with the Oregon football team.

'I've always loved baseball,' the 6-6, 285 Thran says, 'and (UO) coaches said to take my last summer and do what you want.'

Thran, an offensive line recruit, doesn't expect to see the playing field this year for the Ducks.

'Sheesh, I gotta hit the weight room, big-time,' he says. 'I have to get bigger and stronger. I need some muscle.'

Thran says he and Westview quarterback Cody Kempt might play club baseball at Oregon. It's tough for Thran to give up baseball, but not basketball. 'My skills diminished in basketball my sophomore year. I was just banging people,' he says.

nThran's Mount Hood Conference foe, Patrick Stoudamire of Centennial, plans to play football and basketball at Western Illinois in Macomb, Ill. He chose the university because both coaches promised he could do two sports; he'll be on football scholarship.

'Once football ends, I can commit to basketball,' he says. 'That made it an easy decision.'

Stoudamire, second cousin to Portland hoop greats/NBA players Damon Stoudamire and Salim Stoudamire, says he wants to put himself into position to play one of the sports professionally.

He'll play defensive back - his role for the North tonight - and maybe some receiver, at Western Illinois. Maybe, just maybe, he suits up for the Division I-AA Leathernecks against Wisconsin in their opener.

Playing quarterback wasn't an option, so to speak. 'I can't pass that much,' says Stoudamire, who ran the option for Centennial while earning MHC player of the year honors.

In basketball, Stoudamire says he shoots like cousin Salim - without the quick release - but has trouble getting around cousin Damon. 'He's too quick,' he says.

Stoudamire has Damon's body: 5-11, 190 pounds, with the squarest of shoulders. He says Washington State offered him a football scholarship and Oregon and Oregon State 'were looking at me heavily.'

nLincoln's John Sheffield and Beaverton's Jake Fetzer, both playing slot receiver for the North, could prove to be a lethal combination as they look to catch passes from Beaverton's Kevin Riley and Westview's Kempt.

Sheffield, by the way, has decided to play football at Yale. He played his last season of lacrosse at Lincoln High, helping the Cardinals to the state semifinals.

'I got recruited a lot more for football,' he says. 'They are both fun sports, but when you're playing football, you enjoy it more.

'I'm going to miss scoring all those goals and hitting people in lacrosse,' he adds. 'But I can hit people in football, and score touchdowns.'

Sheffield finished with a 3.85 grade-point average - low for Yale's standards, 'but good enough when you're playing football,' he says. 'The football team is a lot like me: pretty smart, but not exceptional.'

He considered walking on at Oregon State, but the greatest interest in him for football came from Ivy League schools.

This summer, it's all about 'lifting, running and playing football,' the 6-2, 215-pound Sheffield says. 'I need to work on my speed and quickness. I need to keep playing football, running routes and catching passes.'

Says Lincoln coach Chad Carlson: 'He's so fun to watch play football. He looks like a football player, an All-American kid - smart, athletic.'

nThe North's two running backs will be Jesuit's Keo Camat, who also will play linebacker, and Benson's Alex Green. The 6-1 220-pound Green is bound for Butte College, a junior college in California, because of grades. If he takes care of academics, he will be a Division I recruit. 'I didn't know guys that big could run and cut that fast,' Carlson says.

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