Regardless who wins Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Foxborough, Mass., a former Pantagraph area high school star will be headed to the Super Bowl.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, a Central Catholic graduate, will play for the New England Patriots in Sunday’s 5:40 p.m. game. His opposition will include ex-Eureka High School standout Andy Studebaker, an outside linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts.
Hoomanawanui caught four passes for 43 yards in last week’s divisional playoff victory over Baltimore, including a 16-yarder on a play that stirred controversy.
Some players who are typically eligible receivers reported as ineligible for the Patriots. The strategy, while within the rules, confused the Ravens and drew complaints from Baltimore coach John Harbaugh afterward.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Hoomanawanui, 26, had three catches for 44 yards in the regular season. He is in his third year with the Patriots and third AFC title game. A trip to the Super Bowl would be his first in five NFL seasons.
Studebaker, 29, is in his second year with the Colts and seventh in the NFL. The 6-3, 255-pound Congerville native has played in 13 games this season, including one start. He has 15 tackles (eight solo) to go with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Studebaker also is seeking his first Super Bowl berth. The Super Bowl is Feb. 1 at Glendale, Ariz., with a 5:30 p.m. kickoff.