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ASHSAA 2012 Football playoffs done, Nu’uuli makes it to the semi-finals

tony@samoanews.com
Ma’o Li’o stopped immediately in the back field by Isaako Mauga of the Sharks in the second quarter of their play off game last Thursday evening. Nu’uuli defeated Samoana 21 - 22. [photo: TG]

Last weekend featured two of the many teams that have been eliminated from our closing match ups of the season. The playoffs were held last Thursday and Friday and featured some of the toughest football games witnessed this year — with Nu’uuli Wildcats delivering the biggest upset of the season by defeating the Sharks by a point. They are now alive to carry onto this Saturday’s semi-final against the Warriors. Leone on the other hand is now preparing to face the Vikings after a hard fought victory against the Crusaders Friday evening.

A game that was determined to go Samoana’s way, definitely did not happen when they gave out during the closing minutes of the game against Nu’uuli, when the Wildcats came back in the fourth quarter with Samoana leading 21 - 16. Nu’uuli scored the closing touchdown of the game 21 - 22 in the final second of the match.

Playoffs games are by elimination, which allows for the underdog, in this case the Wildcats, to bring their A-game to the field, while forcing the teams that placed in the top tier during regular season to put it all on the line — just like the underdog.

Huddle coverage of the ASHSAA Football playoffs is proudly sponsored by “Powerade” and “Coca Cola”, distributed exclusively by GHC Reid Co. Ltd., “Your Family of Fine Beverages” — Oloa o Leala.

PLAYOFFS

Nu’uuli 22 - Samoana 21

Varsity

Nu’uuli was the first one to strike in their game against the Sharks last Thursday evening. Considered to be the underdog, the lowest seeded team, Nu’uuli had not beaten Samoana throughout the regular season.

But as of 1:23 remaining in the first quarter of the match, after Samoana couldn’t convert on their first offensive possession of the game, the Wildcats used Samoana’s penalties to throw them off with an option play out to Ma’o Li’o for his first touchdown of the game, a 5-yard reception for Nu’uuli. Then with their two point conversion in the hands of Felise Enoka, the Wildcats were leading 8 - 0.

Nu’uuli thought they had things going, but not too long after their touchdown, Nu’uuli sent the kick off over to the Sharks, and Samoana’s Fritz Helg stumbles in the back field trying to gain possession, and as soon as he did, Helg slowly made his way through the middle and blasted out to the sidelines to find no one but the end zone waiting for him as he returned the kick all the way back for a 75-yard touchdown reception. Samoana not converting their two point conversion, had to settle to trail the Wildcats by two points.

2:58 remaining in the second quarter, and Samoana finally found a way around Nu’uuli’s defensive scheme. First down of Samoana on Nu’uuli’s 10-yard line, and Matt Te’o enters the end zone for the Sharks second touchdown of the game. Their two point attempt was the exact same play to the opposite side to Te’o again, which sent the Sharks ahead for the first time in the game 8 - 14.

Opening up the third quarter of the match, Nu’uuli on their first offensive possession of the second half, and they stumbled on themselves fumbling the ball, which was immediately picked up by (#34) of the Sharks, returning it for a 30-yard touchdown return, Sharks were now leading 8 - 21 after the good field goal possession by Kaleopa.

6:56 remaining in the ball game, and Nu’uuli was looking to strike again for a fortunate opportunity to the semis. Felise Enoka and Karl Tolai led the way for the Wildcats, pounding positive yardage down field and moving the chains, spotting them a first down possession on Samoana’s 4-yard line, and Nu’uuli again looked to Tolai who rammed his way up the middle to record the Wildcats second touchdown of the game. Their two point attempt was a pitch play out to Enoka to bring Nu’uuli back to trail the Sharks 16 - 21.

Samoana tried to run the ball continuously to shave time off the board, but were sorry when they couldn’t convert a first down situation at closing time, bringing Enoka back on the field to lead the Wildcats into Shark territory. The Wildcats with a third and goal opportunity on the Sharks 3-yard, and the pitch went out to Enoka again for Nu’uuli’s leading touchdown of the game. 22 - 21 — with just 33 seconds remaining.

Samoana’s passing quarterback Naiuli came in to connect with sophomore Logan Tago for a long reception for the Sharks in Wildcat territory, desperate for a TD. However, Naiuli tried to fire out to Tago again in the final seconds of the game, but it was  picked off by Nu’uuli’s “Batman” Moea’i, who closed the game off with a huge upset for Samoana, as Nu’uuli will now prepare to face the Warriors this Saturday morning in the semi-finals.

SAMOA NEWS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Felise Enoka

Samoa News selected the Junior Running Back for the Wildcats, Felise Enoka who has led the way for Nu’uuli throughout the season and in their playoff game against the Sharks. Felise averaged up to 99 rushing yards, 19 carries, 9 yards per carry, 1 touchdown, and 2 extra point conversions.

Leone 10 - Marist 6

Varsity

Friday evening’s playoff game between the Crusaders and the Lions wasn’t quite as easy as the regular season match ups. This time, Head Coach Filoiali’i Langkilde wouldn’t back off with his Crusaders team — all the way to the finish line. Already determined to be the victor of this match up was Leone who was in favor of winning, but there were still glimpse of an upset game after Nu’uuli defeated Samoana the night before.

Asofa’afetai Olo of Leone hijacked the scoreboard with just 1:23 remaining in the first quarter of the game, and put away Leone’s first six points of the game. Third down play of Leone on the Crusaders 5-yard line and Olo was sent up the middle with the counter attack for a touchdown. Their two point attempt was a fake hand off to Olo again, as Fagalilo Oa looked to the corner of the end zone to hook up with Elama Lefiti on the two point conversion. Leone was up 8 - 0.

The Crusaders, who were determined to set the second upset of the season, managed to come back under the leadership of James Migo and Joe Mano, pounding their way to positive yardage with the power of Uluao Letuli, spotting the Crusaders a first down situation on the Lions 9-yard line.

Marist already was having a hard time in their air attack, started to depend on the quickness of Letuli who had already boosted the rhythm for Marist. First down of Marist and Mano handed off the counter hand off to Letuli again who found a small gap through the middle, and used it as his last resort to reach the end zone, putting the Crusaders first six points of the game.

Later in the game, the ice breaker for the Lions finally came when Marist failed to convert deep in their own territory. Marist playing a third down situation from their own 4-yard line, had Mano in trouble, when he was harshly chased around in the backfield by a host of Leone defenders, bringing him down in the end zone to send three points onto the Lions scoreboard, and closing off the match up with their last scoring opportunity.

This sent the Lions home with the victory, a very close 10 - 6 win, as they will now prepare to face the Vikings this Saturday morning for the semi-final games.

SAMOA NEWS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Asofa’afetai Olo

Samoa News selected Leone High School’s starting Quarterback, Running Back Asofa’afetai Olo to his first ever Player of the Game title after helping the Lions over the Marist last Friday evening in their play off game against the Crusaders. Olo racked up 89 rushing yards, averaged 4 out of 10 completed passes per series, 1 touchdown, and 4 quarterback keeps for 30 plus yards.



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