Sol-Jay Maiava, a sophomore quarterback at Kahuku High School in Hawaii, will be transferring to St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., for his junior year.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback is set to compete for the starting role at St. John’s following the graduation of current senior quarterback Kevin Doyle, an Arizona signee. Maiava is coming from Kahuku High, well-known for its football program that is reported to have churned out 17 NFL players since 1970.
“I am not thinking that I am going to start right away,” Maiava said about coming to St. John’s. “Everyone still has to play for the job. They just gave me an opportunity to come and compete, and they just threw it all out on the table and I just decided to take it.”
Maiava, whose family will be joining him in the Washington area, has college offers from Oregon, Michigan, Utah, Virginia, Fresno State and Hawaii. He is a multisport athlete at Kahuku, playing basketball as well, but Maiava is interested in participating in lacrosse and track at St. John’s in addition to football.
Maiava will join the defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champions. The last two starting St. John’s quarterbacks have also transferred to the Cadets from other schools — Doyle from Malvern Prep in Malvern, Pa., and Kasim Hill from Gilman High in Baltimore.
“Just his competitiveness and his work ethic, it is good to have a guy with experience there,” St. John’s Coach Joe Casamento said of Maiava. “That’s a great get for us. I know he had a lot of other opportunities.”
Maiava isn’t the only high-profile quarterback to transfer to a nationally ranked team this offseason, as two other examples include top 2020 quarterback Bryce Young transferring to Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) from Cathedral (Los Angeles), and 2019 quarterback David Baldwin transferring from Upland (Calif.) to IMG Academy in Florida.
The 17-year-old Maiava’s move to the mainland was fueled by the hope of a bigger opportunity to reach the next level in the classroom and on the field. By going to high school on the mainland, Maiava said it will be easier for college coaches to see him play and it is easier for him to travel for visits. From an educational standpoint, going to St. John’s will help him prepare for college, he said.
Maiava has a couple of ties to the DMV area, including his mother’s niece, who is set to attend George Mason University. Maiava is also related to the new Cadets quarterback coach, Drew Aumavae. The two met at the Polynesian Bowl high school all-star game three years ago, and Aumavae, Maiava’s cousin, started working with Maiava every time he went to Hawaii.
Now set to be coached under Casamento, this will be Maiava’s third head coach and fourth offensive coordinator in three years. After Kahuku had a head coaching change in November, Maiava wasn’t interested in transferring. When he was contacted by Aumavae in December, he still was hesitant but decided to go ahead and visit St. John’s in February with his father to check it out. He was quickly sold but made a second visit during his spring break two weeks ago so that his mother, Rosemary Peters, could see the school as well. Peters was hesitant at first but soon was convinced by her son. Maiava was accepted into St. John’s during the visit.
“I could see why, when we got to the school, just the atmosphere of it,” Peters said. “Their own culture, in their own way, is similar to ours. They are not like most private schools. They really do have a close culture, a family culture.”
Maiava said he plans to move to the D.C. area by early June. His family, including his four siblings, is also set to move to the area, away from Kahuku, where the community is very close-knit.
“We haven’t really had a quarterback from this community (a number have not stayed but transferred to private school),” said Luaao Peters, Maiava’s father. “A lot of skill players (like wide receivers) don’t usually go to our hometown school. They usually transfer to a private school in town. So for Sol-Jay to stay home and play quarterback and show these kids growing up that they can do it anywhere, I think that was a big thing when he decided to leave.”
Maiava has already made connections with members of the football team via social media and in person, namely Cadets wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, whom Maiava shadowed during his visit to St. John’s. Maiava also met and worked out with Doyle, who was also showing him the ropes during his visit.
“All the guys are cool,” Maiava said. “They have that family when I walk into the weight room. Especially Rakim, I was his shadow so me and him, we are getting closer and closer.
“Some of them already knew my name. I would introduce myself and they would say, ‘I know. We know who you are.’ ”