Uatahouse Tu’ifua is a 6’2″, 285 pound, class of 2024 Defensive Tackle/ Offensive Guard for the Barrow High School Whalers in Utqiagvik, Alaska (formally known as Barrow). Uatahouse is Barrow’s most impactful player, and one of the most gifted high school football players in the state of Alaska. Uatahouse is one of the strongest players every time he steps onto the field, and uses his size and frame to dominate inside and make plays, whether that’s putting pressure on or sacking the the quarterback, or wrapping the ballcarrier up on a running play. This led to a 60 tackle and 13 sack season in 2022 for the Whalers. On offense, Uatahouse makes it difficult for opponents to get close to his quarterback. He isn’t particularly fast, but where he shines on the offensive line is his footwork. He is really technical and aggressive on both sides of the ball but also plays the game smart. Uatahouse has maintained a 4.0 GPA since entering high school.
Uatahouse isn’t just a great football player – he is a three-sport athlete, and has found much success at all three he competes in. Uatahouse has won a “surplus” of wrestling tournaments and is a two-time State Wrestling Champion, and the year he didn’t win, he finished runner-up. In basketball, Uatahouse has been named to several all-tournament teams and was recently named to the Third-Team All-State roster for his play on the court.
Going back to football, Uatahouse has attended several camps in an effort to be seen by coaches. Last year, he attended both the All-Alaska camp and the Northwest Missouri State Camp, and will be attending several others in 2023. Uatahouse currently doesn’t hold any offers, but mentioned that some college coaches are showing interest, and believes that the offers will start arriving during his Senior season.
I recently had the chance to interview Uatahouse:
Why and at what age did you start playing football?
“I started playing football in the 6th grade (because we don’t have pee-wee football in Barrow, the youngest age we could play is about 11 years old). I started playing the game of football because I looked up to my brothers who played football. My brothers, Vaka and Sione, both played football at the collegiate level. Sione went to Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa and Vaka went to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma.”
Have you always played your current position, or did you play a different position growing up?
“I’ve always played defensive tackle and offensive guard, but I’ll be moved around through all linemen positions when I’m needed to.”
What sets you apart from everyone else on the field?
“My dedication and discipline are what sets me apart from everyone. I want it more than anyone.”
What is your favorite accomplishment so far in your football career?
“Winning All-State Co-Lineman of the Year and All-State DT and OG has been my favorite accomplishments so far in my football career.”
What is your favorite memory playing football so far?
“My favorite memory of football so far is the bus rides. Those bus rides, whether to our field or going to other places, are always good times with my teammates.”
How do you balance athletics and academics?
“Balancing athletics and academics can be challenging, but you have to stay disciplined and dedicated. I’m always told that I’m a student-athlete and in that, student comes first.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced on the field?
“The biggest challenge I’ve faced on the field has to be Josiah Bowman from Houston High School who also won All-State Co-Lineman of the year. I’d say I got the best of him both times we played though, the film doesn’t lie.”
Is there a certain player you try to model your game after?
“I try to model my game after NFL players like Dexter Lawrence and Chris Jones.”
How do you stay physically fit outside of football?
“Outside of football, to stay physically fit, I wrestle and play basketball for Barrow High School. I’ve been named to multiple All-Tournament teams in basketball and have won 2 state championships for wrestling and was a state runner-up my freshman year (looking to capture my third title next season). Working out in the off-season is also critical to staying in shape.”
What are you hoping to achieve in this upcoming season?
“This season, I’m hoping I can lead my team to a state championship.”
What is your end goal for your football career?
“My end goal for my football career is to make it to the NFL.”
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned playing football?
“The most important thing I’ve learned from football is that what you put into it, is what you’ll get out. If you work hard on your craft and stay disciplined, the results of it will show.”
How do you prepare for big games?
“I like to listen to Lil Baby’s music to get locked in for big games; also before every game, I always say a prayer.”
What aspects of playing in Utqiagvik/Barrow do you like and dislike?
“I like playing on the blue field here in Barrow, getting to play on the field is basically a flex. A dislike of mine is definitely the cold, going to places where it’s hot makes it ten times worse because I’ve gotten used to the cold.”
Does the traveling required for away games affect your performance at all?
“I’d say that traveling to away games does kind of affect my performance; the constant plane rides and bus rides make me feel a little sluggish.”
Do you have anything else interesting or unique about playing in Utqiagvik/Barrow?
“Playing in Barrow is very cool because everyone you know is there. Our “stands” are very close the field, and getting to see my friends and family during a game is definitely a highlight of playing in Barrow.”
Lastly, who is the biggest role model in your life?
“The biggest role models in my life have to be God and my family; they’ve shaped me into the young man I am today.”
Just to add a couple things (for those who didn’t read our School Spotlight on Barrow High School): first, Barrow’s spends a lot of time traveling. For certain road games, the team leaves town for over 72 hours, just to play 1 game that takes 3 hours to complete. Also, Uatahouse will be the only Senior on the Whalers’ roster next year, so the coaches are hoping that he will step up and help lead this team, and are confident he will deliver. be on the lookout for this standout from northern Alaska next season.