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Warriors collect their 5th ASHSAA Football Championship in a row

tony@samoanews.com
Gabriel Dalle trying to return his first fumble of the game, but was immediately pursued and brought down by Folasa Vili of Leone. Tafuna won the championship title 48 - 40, their fifth championship title in a row. [photo: TG]

American Samoa football fans were satisfied beyond their expectations after witnessing the ASHSAA 2012 Football Championship in the Junior Varsity Division between the Leone Lions and Tafuna Warriors, who claimed their fifth Championship title in a row after edging off the Lions in a game that had the fans on their feet throughout the second half. Tafuna didn’t take it home until the last play of the game, with a 48 - 40 victory over the Lions.

This was by far the best game showcased in the 2012-13 ASHSAA Football season. We can only hope for a Varsity matchup, scheduled for next month, equal to or even better than Saturday morning’s hot game, where neither team backed off, right up to the last seconds of the match.

AFTER GAME THOUGHTS

Samoa News spoke to Tafuna’s JV Head Coach Kolose Ili after the game about what came to mind, and how did he know that it was the right call to make, when they were all tied up 40 - 40 in the last minutes of the game.

Ili said, “This is what we practice for, and I told the kids all along that this is a character of a championship team, it’s not whether you fall down because everyone is going to fall down, but we told them that things like these are going to happen, we practice for it, and that’s how we ran those last minutes of that football game. Its exactly how we run it in practice so we kind of prepared for this one but I am glad we came out on top.”

When asked about how he felt about Tafuna winning their fifth Championship title in a row, he responded, “I know this is the fifth time in a row, but this feels like the first time in a while, this is a good feeling, this compared to our first championship, this one is one of the top Championship games we ever played.”

He added, “We’re down and I think that’s why this game was so emotional. We were pretty much out of it but to come back like this and finish strong like this and to become the Champions again, its the character of not only the players but my coaching staff, the staff of Tafuna High School, principal Lentoy, to the booster club the whole community behind us, the stadium was packed like it was a college game but I am just proud of these people and especially my players.”

“Huddle” coverage of the 2012- 13 ASHSAA football season is brought to you by Coca-Cola and Powerade, distributed exclusively by GHC Reid & Co. Ltd. ‘Oloa O Leala’, Your Family of Fine Beverages.

JUNIOR VARSITY DIVISION

Tafuna 48 - Leone 40

Matthew Ma’ilo of Tafuna’s defense opened up the game with great vision and the will to put up the first six points of the game, on Leone’s first play of the game. The Lions playing their first down possession from their own 5-yard line, their first offensive possession of the ball game early in the first quarter, and Eddie Tagaleo’o aired out his first pass, which was immediately intercepted by Ma’ilo, and taken back to the end zone for Tafuna’s first touchdown of the game.

In the same quarter, Leone has not managed to pick up the yardage they wanted, and referred to punt on a three and out situation. Warriors’ Frank Mauigoa came on the field with his offensive unit to start from their own 44-yard line, and he leads the Warriors all the way down to the Lions red zone, with a first down situation that saw him take it in for a 3-yard touchdown situation.

Leone still puzzled on how to get around Tafuna’s defensive unit, didn’t have much time to put together a new scheme, but instead utilized their two most threatening weapons on the team, Folasa Vili and Jeremiah Pritchard on all corners on the field.

But the two of the great players for the Lions couldn’t cover the whole field, as Tafuna’s Mauigoa was already starting to march down the field again. 2:32 remaining in the first quarter of the game, and Mauigoa spotted Tafuna a third down situation on the Lions 15-yard line, and with Mauigoa finding no open receivers in sight, took off through the middle, and out to the sidelines to record his second touchdown of the game, sending the Warriors to an 18 point lead.

Just when the Warriors thought they would not break a sweat in this game, Leone shows their true colors, when Tagaleo’o brought the Lions offensive unit back on the field and had Vili with his threatening running game and Pritchard on the outside, with his threatening catches send the Lions all the way down to the Warriors 5-yard line. Third down of Leone and Tagaleo’o sent Pritchard up the middle for Leone’s first touchdown of the game, bringing them back to trail Tafuna18 - 8 after the good two point attempt my Chanel.

Early in the second quarter of the game, and Mauigoa showcased why he is the best player of the division. It was a second down situation for the Warriors on the Lions 24-yard line, and Mauigoa not finding an open receiver, managed to take off from the 24, dodged 3 defenders and broke out to the end zone for his third touchdown of the game on quarterback keeps, and all in the first half.

2:28 remaining in the first half, and the Lions came back to strike on the Warriors, this time from their own 45-yard. Third and four of Leone, and quarterback Tagaleo’o aimed high to fire a long one out to Pritchard who was already burning up the sideline, he caught that pass and took it all the way to the end zone to bring Leone back to trail the Warriors by ten points 24 - 14.

1:21 remaining in the second quarter, and Tafuna is knocking on Leone’s door, but never managed to open on a three and out situation, forcing Tafuna to punt. Vili in the backfield for Leone to return the kick, and “Frost” caught that reception and immediately stormed to the sidelines, and was gone for another touchdown for Leone just before halftime, bringing the Lions to a nicely positioned four point trail — 24 - 20.

The second half of the game wasn’t an easy start for either teams.

Tafuna tried to pave their way through Leone’s undefined defense, but never managed to enter. Leone’s Tagaleo’o also brought the heat, but didn’t break through the line. It wasn’t until Tafuna’s Cornelius Maiva carried the load for the Warriors, muscling his way down field and spotting Tafuna’s first down possession on the Lions 5-yard line when Leone targeted him the most, and saw a unfortunate mistake.

Tafuna first down on the Lions 5-yard line, and Mauigoa faked the hand off to Maiava again luring the defense, and leaving Lyle Siu wide open for the touchdown pass that added six more points onto the Warriors side of the scoreboard for 32 - 20 after the good two point attempt by Ray Siaulaiga.

Just when Tafuna thought that they would escape and pave a blow out game, it turned sour on them when it came down to just seconds remaining in the quarter. Leone spotted a second down situation on the Warriors 45-yard line and Tagaleo’o fired out another long bomb to Faresa Kapisi for another Leone touchdown, coming back to trail the Warriors 32 - 28 after the quarterback keep by Tagaleo’o for two.

Early in the last quarter of the game, 9:11 in the fourth, and Tafuna managed to break into Leone’s red zone with a threatening first down situation that featured Siaulaiga in the end zone for another Tafuna touchdown sending the Warriors over the Lions 40 - 28 after the good two point catch by Siu.

Then Leone decided to try and even things up. Vili on the ground attack broke through with a first down situation for Leone on Tafuna’s 15-yard line. First down of the Lions and Tagaleo’o faked the hand off to Vili, and looked deep to fire a perfect pass to the hands of Pritchard who caught the pass, and took it into the end zone for another Lion touchdown.

As time was ticking off the clock, Leone looked desperate for an opportunity to break through Tafuna’s defensive force. 2:22 remaining in the ball game, and Leone was playing a desperate 4 and 1 situation from Tafuna’s 47-yard line. Vili playing quarterback decided to take the ball himself, and was gang tackled by two Warriors just pass the first down marker, and was determined to go down, but he didn’t. Folasa escaped from two tackles, out to the sidelines, and bounced back to mid field and over to the far side of the field to score another Leone touchdown bringing Leone back to life to tie up the ball game 40 - 40.

Tafuna now worried, but still had enough time to try and work something out for the sake of their title.

1:21 remaining in the 4th quarter of the game, and Mauigoa led the Warriors down to Leone’s 15-yard line for a first down situation. Tafuna’s first play there, and Mauigoa rolled out looking like he was going for it, but it only fooled the defense to open up the field for Siu who was wide open down field for the touchdown pass by Mauigoa, scoring another six points for the Warriors. The two point conversion attempt saw Mauigoa keeping into the end zone to secure their fifth ASHSAA Championship title in a row as Tafuna celebrated a hard fought battle against the toughest team in the league, Leone Lions, and managed to come out victorious with a 48 - 40 win.

SAMOA NEWS JV PLAYER OF THE GAME: Frank Mauigoa

Samoa News selected the top player of this year’s Junior Varsity Division, Frank Mauigoa of Tafuna High School after leading the Warriors to their fifth Championship title, and his second championship title with Tafuna. Mauigoa racked up 3 touchdowns on quarterback keeps, passed for 3 touchdowns, and averaged over 100 rushing yardage of the ground game.



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