Freedom Bowl: Bay’s Akilotoa Kaumatule ready to represent again

Hudson’s Bay Eagles made a name for themselves in football in the past four years 

VANCOUVER — It seems like he has been around high school football forever.

Nope. Only four years.

It was a long four years, though, because Akilotoa Kaumatule made a name for himself in the very first high school varsity football game he played in, back in Week 1 in 2015.

Since then, he has continued to soar with the Eagles.

On Saturday, he will get one more night in a Hudson’s Bay helmet, suiting up with the West stars at the annual Freedom Bowl Classic at McKenzie Stadium. The football game features recent graduates from Southwest Washington high schools in an all-star event to raise funds for Shriners charities. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

From Game 1 until this week, Kaumatule has always been about the Eagles.

Freedom Bowl: Bay’s Akilotoa Kaumatule ready to represent again
Akilotoa Kaumatule has been making a name for himself for years at Hudson’s Bay. He is thrilled to be playing one more game, representing the Eagles for a final time at Saturday’s Freedom Bowl Classic. Photo by Paul Valencia

“I’m proud of being from Bay. I’ll rep that forever,” he said.

All of the Eagles should be proud of what they accomplished. In the previous four years, Hudson’s Bay won three games, total. In the past four years, the Eagles won 16 games, which included one playoff berth and two winning seasons.

That first game in 2015 set the tone, when the Eagles shut out rival Fort Vancouver. True, Fort is not exactly a powerhouse, but the Trappers ended the 2014 season with a win over Hudson’s Bay. The Eagles would only go 2-7 in 2015, but that Week 1 victory was special.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Kaumatule said, noting he never expected to even play on offense that night. 

But the Eagles got close to the end zone.

“Toa! Toa!” a coach screamed.

He heard his name and ran out to the huddle. 

Touchdown Eagles. Touchdown Kaumatule.

“When I got that first touchdown, I was scared,” Kaumatule said. “A weird feeling. Friday night lights. I was a freshman. It was crazy. Probably one of the most memorable of my high school football games.”

Freedom Bowl: Bay’s Akilotoa Kaumatule ready to represent again
Akilotoa Kaumatule takes a break during a practice for this week’s Freedom Bowl Classic. A Hudson’s Bay football star, “Toa” said he is not sure if he will play college football. That means this could be his last game. Photo by Paul Valencia

He would score another touchdown that night, too.

From that moment on, even when they lost, the Eagles believed they could be something.

“We had a great bunch of seniors ahead of us,” Kaumatule said. “They was a great class.”

They led the way, then the younger Eagles made it happen in the next two seasons.

Nobody would have thought Hudson’s Bay could have back-to-back winning season. Nobody outside of Bay, that is.

So yes, you better believe Kaumatule and the rest of the Hudson’s Bay Eagles on Saturday night are thrilled to be playing football together again one final time.

Kaumatule, a running back and linebacker, has not decided just yet about college. If he does not go to college, his football days will likely be finished.

“I’m playing this game just in case,” Kaumatule said.

“I’m happy I got this opportunity,” he added. “I want to go out there, dominate, do what I can, and enjoy this last game. I want to have fun with all these amazing athletes out here.”

Going to Hudson’s Bay, Kaumatule is also aware of fundraising efforts. He has supported the “Mr. Hudson’s Bay” event through the years. This football game is for charity, too.

“I know where the money is going. I’m happy to be playing in this game,” he said. “It’s a good cause, going to the kids.”

2019 Freedom Bowl Classic

What: All-star football game for recent high school graduates from Southwest Washington, in an event that raises funds for Shriners charities.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: McKenzie Stadium in east Vancouver

Also: There are two Clark County Youth Football games, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Cost: Tickets are $10 

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