Seven Chargers well prepared for college football on the mainland

Jul 7, 2015 | PC Sports

The success of the Pearl City Chargers football program has taken a huge leap forward as seven of its top student athletes prepare for the transition to playing college ball on the mainland. Leading the pack is former Charger QB Jordan Taamu who was voted as the 2014 Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II Offensive Player of the Year. Taamu and former Charger teammate and 2014 OIA DII all-star selection, Kordell Vaa will both suit up this fall at the New Mexico Military Institute. 

Pearl City's 2014 OIA DII defensive all-stars, Ikaika Tom, Petro Mataia, and Zebadiah Selu will play together at Yuba College in Sacramento, California.

Former Pearl City Chargers multi-sport student athletes and 2014 OIA DII all-stars, Garette Kanamu and Pjay Solomon will head north to play football at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington.

It’s a very proud moment for third year Pearl City Chargers Head Coach, Robin Kami who set out in his first year as head coach to turn around the program, beginning in the classroom, and create a culture of learning that prepares his student athletes from day one, as they enter PCHS in their freshman year.

The buy in has been a success, but still needs a lot of work to truly make it a success across the board. After school tutoring during the season for the football players by PCHS teachers has made a big difference in the student athletes making grades and keeping them on the playing field, and not on the sidelines. Efforts to keep them focused on their school work and grades during the off-season is an area that Coach Kami and his core of dedicated tutors and school administrators are hoping to continue to improve on this coming school year.

The positive results of Coach Kami's system and philosophy is shining bright today with his seven former players who are making the next step to college campuses and football stadiums on the mainland that will soon become forever a part of their lives and future legacies.

They will always carry with them the mindset and work ethic that is synonymous with being a student athlete at Pearl City High School and living the school's motto, "Excellence with Honor". It’s all a part of the Aloha spirit that they will extend to their college teammates and school. Leadership, toughness, and the drive to succeed will manifest itself in them as they mature into a higher level learning and living a life of "Excellence with Honor".



Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Coach Kami is pictured with his former Chargers who are headed to play

college football on the mainland. (From L-R) Jordan Taamu, Petro Mataia,

Kordell Vaa, Garette Kanamu, Pjay Solomon, Zebadiah Selu and Ikaika Tom.


Robin Kami, Chargers Head Coach

“I’m honored and humbled that these seven kids get the chance to the next level and prove to themselves that they can play football. Like I tell these kids, no matter what division, what school you play for, if you get the academics and attitude right, people will find you.

When I first came here, not too much people wanted to go to the next level. They didn’t have that ideal to want to go to college. When I first got here I really pushed academics and attitude and I went very hard on them, and every day like a broken record, make sure we take care of academics and attitude. Letting them know in the long run it’s going to help you. We had a lot of help from the school administration. We have great support from the principal, vice principal, to the counselors, to the AD, and the study hall teachers that helped us out every day before practice. We also have very good support from the parents right now and they’re really supporting the kids. Hopefully we get more kids next year. I tell these kids that it starts from your freshmen year. Don’t come in your junior or senior year wanting to go to college. Start in your freshmen year and work hard and you can get there.

I’m excited that the seven kids are leaving and hopefully they come back with that paper, with that degree. No matter what they do up there, make sure you come back with that degree.”


Jordan Taamu, New Mexico Military Institute

“I’m pretty excited to go to college. I’m kind of prepared already, because our coaches prepared us for the college level, so I’m pretty excited to go up already. Our after school tutoring program really helped all of us. Without grades we wouldn’t have been able to play on the field. We’re always a student athlete before anything. I came into high school really not looking to be a quarterback, but they just needed a leader so I just hopped in and was a quarterback for four years. They helped me build my character, helped me be a leader, and taught me a lot. I just learned from my coaches. The coaches said a quarterback needs confidence, and with that confidence, they can carry the whole team and that could either gain momentum or lose momentum. Confidence is the key to being a success at the college level.

I would like to thank my pastors and my elders and my church for always praying for me, and  even my parents for always pushing me through everything and not giving up on me. Especially my coaches, for training me hard and making me a better person. I would also like to thank Ms. Kajikawa and Ms. Yano for always pushing us and helping us prepare for college and for being like a second parent to all of us.”


Kordell Vaa, New Mexico Military Institute

“Pearl City is a good place to learn “Excellence with Honor” which is our school motto. It’s a place where you have to lead the team because you don’t get the biggest people in the school, not everyone plays.  In school I learned common knowledge. I learned to teach myself because that’s how you learn in college and that’s what they teach you here at Pearl City. On the field I learned how to lead and just become a great player on the field and off. I want to thank coach Chad (Kahele). Coach Chad came in and taught me a whole different array of things. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this offer. I would also like to thank Coach Landon (Castro) for getting me viewed to the college coach, and also thank you to Coach Rob for putting together his coaching staff and the success that we’ve become under them. I also want to thank my family of course, because they’re the ones who have helped inspire me to play football. They have been my support all four years here at Pearl City High School.”


Petro Mataia, Yuba College, Sacramento, California

“I’ve learned a lot at Pearl City High School and I’m ready to learn more at the next level.  My Charger teammates have built a bond together, and as you can see, we’re still keeping it after high school. Hopefully we can get to do the same thing up there. I would like to say mahalo to my parents for helping me through the years. Also thank you to all my coaches for helping me get into college and play at the next level. Also to all the teachers that helped tutor us in our after school program.”


Ikaika Tom, Yuba College, Sacramento, California

“I will be attending the same college as Petro which is Yuba College in California. It feels more comfortable to be able to go to college with friends that I know. Attending Pearl City High School taught me time management. It’s all about managing your time with school, football, family, and my personal life. It taught me the importance of hard work. Coach Kami and his staff did a great job coaching the players this year.  They know how to discipline the players when needed.  I would like to thank all my family, my supporters, and my coaches who helped me along the way. They taught me what to do when I needed help. I would also like to thank God for providing me with all his blessings.”


Zebadiah Selu, Yuba College, Sacramento, California

“I’m excited to go and compete with some of the better athletes up there and just show them how we play in Hawaii. Playing at Pearl City was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’m glad that I had good coaches who guided me. Coach Jonah (Anguay), my linebacker coach, and Coach Rob, our head coach, for helping us get to the OIA championship for three years. I would like to thank them for teaching me the skills I have now. Also, I want to thank Coach Landon and Coach Cajo (Cabato). I mostly want to thank my mom for supporting me with everything.”


Garette Kanamu, Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington

“I chose Whitworth College because I like their style of offense. Playing at Pearl City High School was little hard trying to balance sports and school. I feel that college is going to be pretty much the same, but a little harder being at that level. I would like to thank Coach Blue, my wide receiver coach, my family, and God.”


Pjay Solomon, Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington

“I’m excited because I’m going to be away from my family. I’ve never been independent before. I’ve always depended on them. It’s been fun attending Pearl City High School. I’ve been playing multiple sports the whole time. It keeps me out of trouble and it keeps me busy. I would like to thank Coach Kel (Kusano), our defensive line coach, and thank Coach Cajo for helping me out on the defensive side. Also thank you to Coach Rob for being there for us this past two years. I would like to thank my parents for always pushing me to strive for more and staying in school and work hard with my grades. It really paid off.”




Jordan Taamu


Kordell Vaa


Petro Mataia


Ikaika Tom


Zebadiah Selu


Garette Kanamu



Pjay Solomon