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Warriors, Lions battles for football's championship

tony@samoanews.com
Tafuna High School’s Offensive Linemen still running trying to perfect their run block skills to try and defend their undefeated title, and to win this year’s championship title against the Lions in today’s Championship game. [photo: TG]

Place your bets American Samoa, it is that time of the year again, where the two of the best teams in the league, will battle it out for the American Samoa High School Athletic Association’s (ASHSAA) Championship title for the year 2012 - 2013.

This year, it’s the battle of the wild wild west which was last seen back in 2005, when the Warriors faced the Lions and came out victorious, now Leone is back to find a way to record their 19th Championship title.

Leone is the under dogs of this match, as Tafuna remains the No. 1 seed in the league, not to mention their undefeated record this season. Today’s match will kick off at 9:00 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, and will conclude with the ASHSAA award ceremony.

This coverage of ASHSAA’s Championship promo is proudly sponsored by “Coca Cola” which is distributed locally by GHC Reid, “Your Family of Fine Beverages” Oloa o Leala.

LEONE HIGH SCHOOL “LIONS”

Going into this year’s championship game with a record of 5-3, the Mighty Leone Lions were doubted to make it, but their action spoke louder than rumors, after putting out the Vikings last week, 42 - 21. Samoa News spoke to Lions Head Coach Arona Samoa about taking over the Lions football program, and turning it around.

“It has been a rough season for all of us, and I know a lot of people doubted us to come this far into the season, but first of all I give all the glory to God, for the talent that he has bestowed upon the kids and for my coaches who continue to work hard with the kids, and now that we made it, we’re looking to do big things, its been a long time for Leone High School.”

Samoa News asked Samoa how his team managed to work from a tough season to beating one of the best team in the league to facing Tafuna again this year after their loss to the Warriors by only six points, he responded, “we took it one game at a time, the preparation was there, and we worked so hard for Fagaitua’s team, and I give my hat off to coach Pooch and his program.”

He mentioned that he in fact is very close to Tafuna High School’s Head Coach Okland Salave’a, “my mind is locked onto Tafuna right now and the big challenge we have in front of us today. Me and coach Okela have come a long way we grew up as students down at the village of Auma Leone, and we grew up doing everything together.”

He also added, “Nobody thought that in this generation where we are at right now, that he would be head coach at Tafuna and me here at Leone High School, and to face each other in the championship game.I would like to wish coach Salave’a and his team the best of luck, and may the best team win.”

Arona told Samoa News that Leone’s goal for this championship game, is their defense, as they will work hard to try and stop Tafuna’s offense. “first thing we need to accomplish is to stop Tafuna’s passing game, and I think that defense is the key for us to winning this game. But our offense came a long way, as you’ve seen in our last game, its been a long time that they haven’t tuned in together, but it seems like they are coming together at the right time, so hopefully that everything will come together in this game too.”

He added, “we all know that Tafuna has the powerhouse of passing and running at the same time, they have a great quarterback, but I told my kids to stay humble and continue to fight to the end.”

Head Coach Arona Samoa thanked all of the West side supporters who has had their backs from the beginning of the season, “I want to thank my village of Leone, to the west side all the way down to Fagamalo and out to where ever there are Leone High School kids staying at, thank you for your support, especially the parents, my principal, and the teachers of Leone High School, but most of all, my hat off to my coaches, without them we wouldn’t be where we are at right now, everybody out there who I haven’t mentioned, please come out and support this game, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

TAFUNA HIGH SCHOOL ‘WARRIOR’

After witnessing the Lions review inside their gymnasium, Samoa News headed over to the home of the undefeated, Tafuna Warriors who are going into this championship game with a 8 - 0 record, something that hasn’t happened for Tafuna since the appearance of Viavia Manuma and Nu’upaia Mika back in 2010.

Tafuna started this season off with a whole new set of coaches, and supervised under the reign of new Head Coach Okland Salave’a who carried Tafuna’s Junior Varsity program to three consecutive undefeated championship seasons until he was hired this year, as the Varsity head coach.

His first season with the division, and Salave’a is already looking at another long line of undefeated seasons ahead of him, like the one being experienced this year. Samoa News spoke to Salave’a about how Tafuna is feeling and how they are preparing for today’s game. “The thing about this game is that, it has nothing to do with the regular season, its the best team that plays the best football today, that is going to win the game, and I believe that with all my heart.”

He added, “it doesn’t matter what you did in the past, you can’t use that to win this game in this magnitude, and I know Leone is a good team and I understand that they beat a good team from Fagaitua, so they are playing their best football right now, and we have a lot of work cut out for us”.

According to Salave’a they have a different goal heading into today’s championship game, “well you always as a coach hope for your whole team to play their best football, especially for the championship game, for us to win though, we definitely have to with our defense, offense and our special teams they will play a big part of winning this game.”

Salave’a mention to Samoa News that it is true that he and Leone Lions head coach Arona Samoa go way back, “me and Arona we are actually brothers, we grew up together as little kids from Leone and we did everything together so its a good thing that we are both coaching the teams that are playing in today’s championship game. I know he has done a great job for his first season there, I know its not an easy thing to turn the program around, it was fast and they did it, so the only thing that I can do with my staff is to have our kids ready to play today.”

Samoa News asked coach Salave’a if he had made any sudden changes to the Warriors team going into the today’s game, he responded, “we haven’t changed much, we added a couple of things for this game, but pretty much we are sticking with what made us and what put us in this situation.”

He added, “there is a slogan that says “don’t fix anything that is not broken” so for us is just reaffirming and reassure that our kids are playing better technique than ever, and that they would know what ever offensive sets or plays that Leone lays out on the field today, so defensively our players will be able to line up to defend whatever they are going to give us.”

Salave’a concluded by thanking the Warrior Nation for their support, “I would like to thank our principal Lentoy Matagi, our administrators for their support and also our teachers that have been coming out everyday when we play, and the student body for being there, I know it’s not easy to come out to the field. I would also like to thank the community the families of our players we wouldn’t be in the situation where we are at now if it wasn’t for any of them, so all we have to do now is to win this last game for everybody.



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