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Heading home to Hawaii

There are plenty of things for Coach Ken Niumatalolo to worry about this week as his team prepares to travel more than 4,000 miles to Hawaii. Will he be able to find enough tickets to satisfy all of his friends and family members? Will all of the players' luggage survive the commercial airline flight on Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year? Will the Midshipmen be distracted by the sun and beach?

But Niumatalolo said he's "very excited" to take Navy to Hawaii, his home state. He and the players will visit the USS Arizona Memorial, and they'll eat plate lunches. "But we won't go too extravagant, [and have a] kalua pig," he said. "I don't want anyone to get sick. They're not used to that kind of diet."

Niumatalolo is a native of Laie, which is about 30 miles north of Honolulu on the island of Oahu, and was a three-year letter-winner as a quarterback at Hawaii. He was part of the school's first bowl team; he made a brief appearance at the end of the Warriors' 33-13 loss to Michigan State in the 1989 Aloha Bowl.

"I played three minutes and I had a headache for two days," he said. "I got hit by [Michigan State linebacker] Percy Snow on an interception, so it's kind of something I try not to remember."

Niumatalolo was on Navy's coaching staff when the Midshipmen beat California in the 1996 Aloha Bowl. He was coach at UNLV when the Midshipmen made their only other trip to face Hawaii, in 1999; the Warriors won that game, 48-41.

The Midshipmen have five players from Hawaii on their roster, and all of them will make the trip this week: freshman wide receiver Matt Shibata (Honolulu), sophomore wide receiver Bruce Andrews (Kailua), sophomore slot back Aaron Santiago (Kapolei), freshman fullback Cyril Ontai (Kapolei) and freshman center Kahikolu Pescaia (Kailua).

By Camille Powell  |  November 24, 2009; 11:47 AM ET
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