Canadian Football League

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Former Canadian Football League player hopes to resume career in Alaska

One of the first things David Weatherholt guaranteed in his quest to bring professional football to Alaska was recruiting local talent.
So Weatherholt, president of Alaska Professional Sports and owner of the Alaska Wild, offered an open tryout last week at the CellularOne Sports Center. Some 200 people competed for about 40 training camp spots. Only a few made the cut.
The Wild announced Friday that 12 players from the tryout signed contracts, which gives them an open invitation to camp in March and a shot to play in the Intense Football League in front of hometown fans.
The Wild now have 13 players under contract, including former Bartlett star Delvin Myles, 35, who signed three weeks ago.
"It is important ... that Alaskans have the first opportunity to make the team," Weatherholt said in a news release. "It's my hope that Alaskans will see this as a chance to develop, improve their football skills and be promoted through the leagues."
Among the 12 Alaskans who signed, four have high school roots in Anchorage:
• Sean Tufaga, a former standout for the Dimond Lynx. He helped the Lynx win a state title in 1993 and went on to play safety for Ricks College (Idaho) and Weber State University.
• Javen Tufaga, Sean's younger brother, also played football for the Lynx. He made first-team all-state at linebacker in 1997.
• Hank Hendrickson, 26, another former Lynx. He played defensive lineman and also ran track and wrestled.
• Donny Delaney, 28, a former football player for the Bartlett Golden Bears. He played college football at Eastern Arizona and Missouri State.
Delaney's versatility -- safety, defensive back, wide receiver, linebacker and special teams -- is what attracted Wild coaches, he said. But it's been eight years since his last season of football, so he knows lifting weights will once again be his daily routine.
"It's back to the drawing boards," he said. "I need to start working out again."
He has time.
Camp isn't expected to start in Anchorage until March.
The Wild will sign more players after the next tryout in Tacoma, Wash., in February. Head coach Keith Evans, who lives in the Seattle area, said he's pleased with the Alaska signings and expects to recruit more Pacific Northwest players.
"Alaska has a great passion for football," Evans said in a press release. "The energy at the tryouts was incredible.
"People are beginning to understand that this is professional football."
Team spokesman Gary Scott said 30 to 45 players should be at camp. Only 25 players will be selected to play for the 2007 season, which begins April 12 against Frisco (Texas) at Sullivan Arena.
The way things look now, the team is almost 40 percent Pacific Islanders, according to Scott.
• Fale Lahin, 25, moved from Samoa to Anchorage in 2000.
• Wayne Afuola, 25, moved from the Big Island of Hawaii to Anchorage in July.
• Leuma Paauli, 31, is from Kailiua, Hawaii.
• Lokeni Lokeni Jr., 23, moved from Pago Pago, American Samoa, to Anchorage in 2002.
• George Noga, 33, is from Honolulu.
Other team signings included Atonio Lolesio Jr. of Anchorage, Losepa Nicholas-Silvira, 23, of Kenai and Gary Harris, 26, of Anchorage.
Noga, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive lineman, said he felt honored after receiving news he had been selected for camp. Like Delaney, it was a dose of iron-pumping motivation.
"I want to come (into camp) in tip-top shape and represent Alaska," he said.
The last year Noga played organized football was 1997. He played one season in the Canadian Football League as an outside linebacker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He also played linebacker four years at the University of Hawaii.
Though he's proud of his football resume, his year in the CFL was kept secret at the open tryout, he said. George Noga Jr., his son, cheered for him in the bleachers.
"I didn't want to tell anyone," he said. "I was just too worried about myself. I felt like I had something to prove."
If Noga makes the team, he expects to juggle his nightlife schedule.
Besides working for a moving company during the day, he plays bass guitar and sings backup vocals for a popular island reggae band in Anchorage, H-3. The 5-year-old group often jams at Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse and Blues Central.
Though Noga knows he will be temporarily trading in guitar picks for quarterback picks, he's ready for the change in scenery.
"I can't wait to check in," he said.


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