Tafuna will defend title against its nemesis, Fagaitua
Making it to the final game of the season to face the No.1 seed in the league, the Vikings, are the Tafuna Warriors who have paid off their questionable debt as to whether they would make it past the Lions this past Saturday. They answered with a sure victory that clinched their appearance in the ASHSAA 2011-12 Football Championship game.
Nevertheless, Leone played out a great season, with bragging rights to roar - they are the only team this season to slay the Vikings for their only loss - while the Warriors in both of their games against the Vikings in regular season have seen defeat at the hands of the Vikings.
With the earned spot of No. 2, the Warriors are set to play the Vikings this coming Saturday in the championship game that will be a test of each school's football program.
Both schools have highly talented players that the territory will no doubt see in college ball as well as in the National Football League in years to come. However, while the Fagaitua Vikings have a shallow bench, with some of their key players playing both offense and defense, compared to the Tafuna Warriors, they have repeatedly shown strength with their lethal no huddle offense and ability to read its opponent's plays.
Look this week to see banners in different villages begin to fly - touting what has become a West vs. East match up, as the Championship game is set to be played this Saturday morning.
TAFUNA 34 - LEONE 15
Leone's "Rocket" Ryan Petaia managed to open up the match by putting the first three points on the board for the Lions, as the Warriors suffered a very hard time gaining yards against the tough Leone Lion defense lead by Esera Iosefa.
But as difficult as it was for the Warriors, Leone was able to see the end zone in the first quarter, and it not until there was 7:14 remaining in the second quarter that Leone spots a challenging fourth down situation on the Warriors 10-yard line, which saw Petaia sending off a good field goal conversion for a Lions up by three.
Later in the second, with just 3:23 remaining, Tafuna pulls off a stunning play that caught the Lions off guard for the first touchdown of the game.
It was a second down play of the Warriors on the Lions 7-yard line that saw the Warriors "Vicious" Vena Umu, storming through the middle, bouncing off defenders and muscling his way into the end zone. The two-point conversion was positive in the hands of the upcoming Junior Varsity player Lauina Futi, with the Warriors coming back to lead the game 8 - 3.
Then, to top it off, with just 43 seconds remaining in the second quarter, closing time into Half Time, Leone on offense tries to execute a wide receiver screen out to Elama Lefiti on a second down situation on their own 34-yard line, but the pass was immediately picked off by Warriors outside linebacker Lanceon Siona who returned that interception and spotted Tafuna's first down situation on the Lions 3-yard line after a saving tackle by Lefiti.
Tafuna turns to the sidelines to bring in "Unstoppable Toko" Filoisamoa Langkilde, who muscles his way through the middle on a quick dive to record the Warriors second touchdown of the game. A successful two-point conversion out to Destiny "Toa" Vaeao sent the Warriors on a 16 - 3 lead into half time.
Warriors' Umu opens up the second half of the play off game with another Warriors touchdown after a 34-yard counter hand off that saw Vena trailing down the sidelines for his second touchdown of the game late in the third quarter, for a 22 - 3 lead, with just 1:53 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
But Leone was not down and out, despite not making it to the end zone yet and in such a crucial game.
Their answer: the Lions send "Lion Heart" Rudy Steffany down the Warriors defensive middle, breaking a few tackles and bouncing out to the open field for a 13-yard touchdown conversion early in the fourth quarter with 11:40 remaining, for the Lions first touchdown of the game.
But the Warriors answer back with 6:23 remaining in the game. Tafuna brings in "Unstoppable Toko" again, who paves his way through the defense, and runs over two more defenders to record his second touchdown of the game, shocking the Lions and blocking out Leone's thoughts of a Championship title, after Langkilde dominates the running game that now has the Warriors up 28 - 9.
Then, again - the Warriors slam it home to the Lions that they are the defending champions and they are going to the Championship game:
In offensive, Warrior Sam Ulu on a third down situation from Leone's 34-yard line, in a counter hand off play storms through the middle, bouncing out to the side lines, and saw nothing but a tremendous end zone smiling at him, as he was out to record his first touchdown of the game, seating the Warriors comfortably on top with a 34 - 9 lead.
Leone decides to send its own message: "We're be back".
It's Leone's Junior running back, "Lion Heart" Rudy Steffany, playing his best to the last second, as he delivers a harsh blow to the Warriors defense on their last scoring opportunity of the game.
5:14 remaining in the game, Leone's third down play on the Warriors 43-yard line, and Leone serves up a running play that sees Steffany breaking two tackles, and finding the sidelines which guided him all the way down to the end zone for their last appearance in the end zone this year, as Steffany finishes strong and leads Leone back home with 15 points on the scoreboard to Warriors 34.