Aua Redskins and Utumea 49ers top ESYFL Championships
Last Saturday the Eastern Star Youth Football League (ESYFL) closed off its second annual football season with two divisional Championship match ups at Onesosopo Park.
For the “Big Boys Division”, Aua Redskins set up the biggest upset of the ESYFL season, as they faced the undefeated Lauli’i Patriots. The Aua Redskins were marked as the reigning Champions of the 2011 ESF season, but they faced a new tough challenger in the league this year, the Lauli’i Patriots. The Patriots remained undefeated throughout the whole season, until they came down to the final game of the season, the Championship showdown against the Aua Redskins, and suffered their first loss of the season, with a 22 – 8 loss. With the win, Aua took home the Championship title for the second time for a “Back to Back” record for the Big Boys Division.
Topping off the “Little Boys Division” were the 49ers and the Buccaneers who were not expected to be in the last game of the season — but an upset brought on by both team two weeks ago — brought them on to the championship field. Both the Buccaneers and the 49ers were ranked amongst the bottom of the list in the league ranking; but none of that mattered to either team when they made the play-offs, and managed to bring down the undefeated Aua Redskins and the Lauli’i Patriots, to spot themselves in the final game of the season. The Buccaneers who were favored to win the Championship title this season, were totally disappointed when the Niners created a shocking move that sent them home with their first Championship title of the league.
LITTLE BOYS DIVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
49ers 8 – Buccaneers 6
In a game that came down to only a two-point difference, the first touchdown of the game defined it. Made made by the Buccaneers, it put 6 on the board, with the two-point conversion unsuccessful
Paul Von Dincklage at quarterback for the Bucc’s, set up his offense at the Niners 15-yard line. A running play that was pulled out at the last minute by Von Dincklage when he saw the defense bringing the blitz to the middle, forcing him to roll out with the football, to hit the sidelines, burning out his defenders to take in the first touchdown of the game early in the first half with just 3:23 into the game.
Both teams played out a great defensive game throughout the two halves of play, and managed to keep each other out of goal line possessions.
But it wasn’t until late in the second half that the Niners managed to answer back to their six-point trail, with a stunning third down passing play.
49ers on the Buccaneers 10-yard line with a third and long situation saw the Niners’ quarterback faking the hand off to AJ Iosua, and rolling out to drop a perfectly placed pass out to Lopati Spitzenberg for their first touchdown of the game, tying up the game 6 – 6. Their two-point conversion with the same play, but this time, with a quick hand off to the middle to Aroni Taua’a, who was never marked in the game, managed to send the Niners over the Bucc’s 6 – 8, to close off the match, and send the Niners home with their first Championship title of the season.
The Little Boys Division awards were handed out at the conclusion of the game:
Offensive Player of the Game Jacob Umu of the Niners
Defensive Player of the Game Foma’i Vaina of the Buccaneers
Most Valuable Player of the Game Niners Aroni Taua’a
Coach of the Year 49ers Chester Manaea.
Manaea told Samoa News, “this Coach of the Year Award isn’t just for me. I want to dedicate this award out to all of my coaching staff, George Tafua, Vili Fea, Fa’asavala Agae, and Chester Manaea.”
BIG BOYS DIVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Redskins 22 – Patriots 8
This was by far the biggest upset of the season, as the number one team in the league, Lauli’i Patriots, suffered their first loss of the season to the No.2 ranked team, the Aua Redskins, who made the Patriots pay for every single mistake they made in the Championship game.
Mistakes started in the first quarter for the Patriots, when they had first possession of the ball.
Pinned deep in their own territory, and on a fourth and long situation, a simple punting situation was what everyone thought was going to happen, but the story changed when Head Coach Lafu Ta’ase called to quarterback Gus Napoleon to go for it on their own 10-yard line.
The snap sounded on a shot gun formation, an obvious passing play, but it turned sour for Lauli’i when Napoleon was sacked hard in the back field on their 1-yard line by a host of Redskins, to turn the ball over for a scoring advantage for Aua.
Coming on to play first down on a fortunate situation was a quarterback keeper by Aleipata Feleti who was stopped inches away from the goal line by Siale Ula. Then on second down, Fereti forcing the ball inside the end zone with a quarterback sneak, sending Aua into the lead 6 – 0.
This was the first time ever that Lauli’i has been behind in points since the league started, aside from their early scoring schemes. So, the Patriots were in a comeback situation for the first time this year, and the experience was pretty ugly for them.
3:44 remaining in the second quarter, and again, the Patriots are pinned deep in their own territory, playing a second down situation on their own 1-yard line, with Napoleon lined up inside the end zone in a shotgun formation, and was totally surprised to see Blessman Ta’ala storming into the end zone to sack him for a safety — the first safety of the season — sending Aua on an eight -oint lead with the Patriots still at zero.
Then, in the second half of the ball game, late in the third quarter, the Patriots expected to rise up to the occasion, were totally disappointed again after Aua created another way to the end zone, on a third down situation from the Patriots 29-yard line, an inside counter hand off play to Junior Fiso, who flashed out to the end zone, and was hit hard by Napoleon just before the end zone causing a fumble, with the ball rolling into the end zone, Aua’s Daniel Afano was fast enough to get to the ball, and recovered it in the end zone for another Aua touchdown with just 3:21 remaining in the third quarter as the Redskins extended their lead in the championship game 14 – 0.
Late in fourth quarter with just 1:12 remaining in the ball game, and the Redskins find themselves in another fortunate situation, with a threatening first down play on the Patriots 1-yard line, and quarterback Fereti hands off the quick dive to the middle out to Leroy Fesili who scored another touchdown situation for Aua. Their two-point conversion was good on a passing play from Fereti out to Seti Sailele, to extend their lead 22 – 0.
Suddenly, when Aua thought that they would shut out the Patriots in the Championship match, Lauli’i’s Ferrin Manuleleua came into play quarterback on the Redskins 10-yard line, and dropped back to find Napoleon on a quick slant pass play that was caught by Napoleon for their first touchdown of the game with just 13 seconds remaining in the game. Their two point conversion was good again by Napoleon, but it was too late, as they went home with an undefeated season going down the drain after suffering a 22 – 8 loss against the Aua Redskins, who claimed their “Back to Back” Championship title.
At the end of the season, ESYFL President Sua’ese Pooch Ta’ase wanted to acknowledge all the sponsors out there who were able to support the league and make this year’s football season possible,
“I would like to acknowledge Highway Patrol, Trophies & Things., Parks and Recreation and Veavea Semana, Family in Onesosopo, Iaeli & Tavai Family, Skyview Store in Aua, Fagaitua High School, Panamex, and Florence & Saulo Insurance.”