Editor’s note: While the sports world is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Hawaii Today will look back every Tuesday at memorable sports moments on the Big Island.
Kaulana Noa started his football career on the field at Honokaa, an offensive lineman born and raised in the small town along the Hamakua Coast.
His beginnings as a Dragon led him to playing for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in college, and then to one of the biggest accomplishments a BIIF football player had, up to that point, achieved in their playing career. In the 2000 NFL Draft, Noa was selected in the fourth round by the St. Louis Rams, with the 104th pick, making him the first BIIF football player to be drafted in the NFL.
“But again for Noa, good things come to those who wait,” West Hawaii Today’s Bobby Command wrote in an April 19, 2000, article. “After bidding his time for eight hours Saturday for the phone to ring, Noa was awakened by an early morning call that let him know he was now a St. Louis Ram.”
In the early 90s, when Noa started for the Dragons, the Honokaa football team had not exactly been a BIIF powerhouse in their recent history. The Dragons had not won the BIIF title since winning back-to-back championships in 1973 and 1974.
Their luck turned for the better with Noa. His senior year in 1993 saw the team finishing in third place, with a 6-4 league record. Noa shined that season and was named to the all-BIIF first-team offense, along with teammate Davin Alip, who led Honokaa to a winning BIIF record as both a running back and a mid-season switch to quarterback.
Noa went on to be a four-year starter at Hawaii, from 1996-1999, and started 49 consecutive games for the Rainbow Warriors. In his senior year at Hawaii, Noa didn’t allow a sack, as the Rainbow Warriors went 9-4 and won the Western Athletic Conference Championship.
Noa was drafted in 2000 after another Rainbow Warriors offensive lineman, Adrian Klemm, who was drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots.
Noa spent two years, 2000 and 2001, on the Rams’ practice squad after being drafted and signing a three-year, $1.1 million contract in July of 2000. He spent the 2000 season on the injured reserve list with a wrist injury.
It was still a high achievement for a player all the way from Honokaa.
“But talent — blue-chip with a 3.8 grade-point average to boot — has a way of manifesting itself, even in this far-off corner of the world,” Command wrote.
“Good for you Kaulana! We’re all proud of you.”