POWERADE FOOTBALL: LEONE LIONS OUT TO REGAIN TITLE 'BRAGGING RIGHTS'
The mighty Leone Lions will be coming onto the American Samoa High School Athletic Associations (ASHSAA) football field this year with some major changes to their team — changes they are counting on to rack up more titles onto their 18-title championship record — indeed the LHS bragging rights are for the most Championship Titles in ASHSAA Football history.
Leone Lions, under the management of Head Coach Arona Samoa, have been practicing hard this summer, building a team of some of the most respected players in the league — since Samoa has been in the Head Coach position for Leone.
In his first reign as Head Coach at the Home of the Lions, he led both Leone High School’s Varsity and Junior Varsity programs to the championship title games for both divisions, facing Tafuna High School in the 2012 season.
This year, Samoa News has witnessed some of the high caliber athletes Leone has accommodated on the Lions 2013 team, and there is a good chance they are making it back to the final game of this year’s football season, or even better (maybe collecting their 19th title for the records).
Samoa News spoke with Head Coach Samoa, about how the Lions have been preparing for the 2013 ASHSAA Football Season.
Samoa said, “This year, we had a lot of recruiting going on in the process of rebuilding the program. Compared to last year we hardly had time on our hands to prepare, but fortunately, this year we have had a lot of time to spend with the kids.”
He added, “The kids are working hard, the coaches are working so hard to try and prepare our kids for our first upcoming game.”
According to Samoa, the Lions roster has almost 100 players enrolled in Leone’s football team. “So far right now, we have 50 plus players who are playing in the Varsity level, and our JV program consists of about 38 kids, and we still have a couple of players who are not on island as of now on the JV side, so we’re looking at 80 — close to 90 kids — on our Leone High School roster with both squads combined.”
As to some of the changes made to the Lions threatening squad this year, Samoa noted, “the kids we have from the AYF program coming up to the JV division right now is a plus for our young program. Right now the first generation that started the AYF program here in American Samoa are now in their Senior level in school, and I think we can run a variety of plays with them on both sides of the ball.”
He pointed out, “We even have some new coordinators running the team this year, as you all know Etuale Tuileta, he has been coaching for Leone for a very long time, and continued to help out some of the other schools on island. Having him back at Leone, he’s implemented a lot of stuff on both offense and defense so we are coming out with a different look this year.”
When asked if the Lions Football Team had been affected in any way with DOE and ASHSAA’s Student Athletes 2.0 GPA system, he stated, “So far I have turned in all my football players names to their counselors” and it’s been worked on — “we are not going to jeopardize anything that will affect our team for the upcoming season, it doesn’t matter if you’re a good player from last year, if you don’t have the grades. That’s what we always implement with our kids here in Leone, is that school comes first.”
When asked if the Lions are ready for the 2013 football season, Samoa replied, “I think across the board with all the high school teams on island, I think everybody is prepared. But as for me as a head coach, I think nothing has changed — we are still going to come out and compete — the main thing we have now is that we have had more time to prepare our kids.”
He noted, “As you all know, the game off football is determined by which team makes the least mistakes, that’s the team that’ll come out on top. Hopefully God will give us the strength, to perform and execute well this season.”
The Head Coach told Samoa News how some of the football camps were held this summer helped out Leone’s football program, “I think all the camps, the Christian camp, especially the Troy Polamalu camp and June Jones camp have helped our kids tremendously with techniques and skills, and the opportunity that they have given the kids about their SAT and ACT and it all comes down to letting us know that it’s not only football, but there are a lot of programs out there for the kids to experience.”
Samoa concluded with his acknowledgements of the supporters and people who have helped out their team throughout their preparations for the 2013 football season. “First and foremost I would like to give thanks to God, for giving us the opportunity to do what we love to do. I would also like to thank especially this side of the island, from Fagamalo all the way to Aua because we have some football players from Aua, and I would definitely like to thank them, and hopefully they will come out and support.”
He concluded, “but we will do our best to make this team successful, not only for this year, but for the upcoming years too. And I would like to thank all of those who have supported us throughout all our fundraisers and team activities. Hopefully you will all come out and support our team. We’ll do our best!”
The Lions Varsity Football Team will face the Warriors this Saturday for the first game of the day to kick of this years ASHSAA Football Season Opener.
Coverage of this year’s ASHSAA football season is brought to you by Powerade, distributed exclusively by GHC Reid & Co. Ltd. — Family of fine beverages — “Oloa o Leala”
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