High school football: Ka’u junior gets surprise invite to Australia

  • Ka’u junior Josiah Barrios.

Ka‘u junior Josiah Barrios received an invitation by mail to play in the 30th annual Down Under Bowl this summer in Australia, a nice surprise because his coaches didn’t nominate him.

The 5-foot-9, 240-pound offensive lineman landed on the All-BIIF 8-man football team for the Trojans, who have won three titles in the last four years.

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The Bowl experience runs from June 22 to July 1, which is during the winter season in Australia, where the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere.

“It was shocking because the letter came in after football (October, 2017), and none of my coaches knew anything about it,” Barrios said.

It’s a legitimate event but doesn’t have a major sponsor, which means it’s an expensive foot-your-own-bill experience.

Last year, Kealakehe’s Hiram Anakalea Jr. participated, and the price tag was $4,600. But he enjoyed the summer/winter trip.

“It was really good, very different from home,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to travel, get out of the U.S. and explore the world.

“Football-wise, they had boys from all over the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. It was pretty awesome to play together and challenge each other.”

Barrios was also honored by the County council and received a certificate for representing Ka‘u High and Pahala Elementary School, the county of Hawaii, and the state of Hawaii in the 30th Down Under Bowl.

“I’m very excited and kind of nervous,” Barrios said. “My primary goal is to just have fun, give it my all but also be safe and have the time of my life.”

The trip probably couldn’t come at a better time for Barrios, who reported on the health status in his hometown.

“Right now, Ka‘u air quality is not good,” he said. “There are a lot of people not showing up for school because they’re getting sick from all the vog.”

Last year one of the highlights during training was a touch rugby session where USA players learned rugby’s basic rules taught by Australian and New Zealand players.

Basically, it was teammates teaching each other and bonding, a drawing point for Barrios, who plans to study criminal justice in college.

“I enjoy all the team bonding and winning as a team,” he said. “Also, you get to know people from the other team.”

Barrios started Pop Warner at 10 years old, and he was a late bloomer to the Trojans starting lineup.

He barely played as a freshman and worked to crack the lineup as a sophomore. But in his two years as a starter, Ka‘u has two BIIF titles.

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Asked what he knows of Australia, Barrios joked that he’s never watched the movie, Crocodile Dundee.

“All I know is that they have a lot of dangerous animals and insects and that the weather is cold during the summer,” he said. “I have never watched the movie, but I’ve always wanted to.”