POWERADE-COCA COLA FOOTBALL: FAGAITUA VIKINGS “TEAM IS FAMILY”
Fagaitua High School Vikings football team has adopted for their motto this year — “Team is Family” — and according to Head Coach Sua’ese “Pooch” Taase, the coaching staff has been able to spend more time than usual “with our team this year, from spring to the summer and now to the season” that has allowed them to put together a team that will be “representing the eastern side of the island in scarlet RED!”
“I admire our players for their determination on a daily basis to learn from each other,” the head coach stated — and just like family they have had their “ups and downs dealing with injuries during camps and practices. “But we will be there to compete,” he said.
And, compete they certainly did in their first game of the Department of Education’s American Samoa High School Amateur Association 2013- 14 football season last Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Stadium. Nu'uuli VocTech was leading 38 - 18 into half time, but Fagaitua has become known in ASHSAA — since around 2000 — as the "Second Half Team”, and they came back and edged the Wildcats 49-44.
Asked by Samoa News what are some of the changes that have occurred for this year’s Vikings’ team, Taase said, “We have focused more on the fundamentals of football and stressed the heads up with tackling in the spring — to illustrate step by step to our players the importance of basic techniques. Our players have continue to spend more time with each other throughout the great camps by June Jones, TN Camp and the finale with Troy Polamalu’s football camp. Our coaches have learned more with the CONCUSSION AWARENESS and will apply it to the season.”
He noted that each of the summer camps helped their team prepare for the upcoming season. “Borrowing ideas from other coaches and using it for your football program is the unique thing about coaching football. We are eager to see what we learned from the camp’s work this season.”
Asked about DOE enforcing the criteria that student athletes must maintain a 2.0 GPA to participate, Taase pointed out, “Our players understand that academics are before athletics and it is a good life’s learning lesson to the athletes when they are disciplined due to academic requirements. Doing it the right way is an everlasting lesson of life for our students.”
Aside from winning the championship title this year, the Vikings family is hoping to “stay healthy and catch the momentum during the playoffs in the quarter and semi-finals.” They do have a small squad, and the head coach is fully cognizant of its pitfalls — the lack of a deep bench.
“We have 23 players with our Varsity and have 25 players on the JV.” Compare that to the Warriors 45 count for their Varsity team alone, or the Samoana Sharks roster of 55 Varsity players and 33 Junior Varsity players, while the Leone Lions are weighing in at close to 90 team members for Varsity and JV — and you can understand Pooch’s concern about staying healthy, with few injuries.
Taaese, in his interview, especially recognizes some of his players, as well as supporters of the Vikings Family that he acknowledges, because in a football program comprising ‘few’ — everyone counts — as adding to their overall success that includes the years they have not won championships, but have continued to deliver excellent football.
“We would like to recognize Darin J. Grey and Palepoi Mauga, who are on injury reserve. We would like to thank them for their dedication to our football program and wish them a speedy recovery. We would like to thank all the parents for allowing their sons to represent Faga'itua this year. Also, a thank you goes out to our Principal Elvis Liufau and our staff at Faga'itua and all the feeder schools on the east side.
“Thank you to our PTA and Booster club and especially all the congregations who are praying for our team on the east side. And, on behalf of our football team THANKS to all the motorists who have stopped to transport our players home after practices.
“We would like to thank my football coaching staff,” he said, and noted “We would like to thank our wives and families for their everlasting support with our football program.”
As the Fagaitua head coach stated: “We will show up to compete every week!”, and “We are excited and ask all the RED VIKING SUPPORTERS to buy your t-shirt and come show that VIKING SPIRIT.”
In recognition of their sponsors, Taase said, “We would like to recognize our big sponsors with our program (Ricky Fiso & his family), the Highway Patrol Division- Mr. Fred Scanlan for your always support; thank you to the entire eastern side with your donations during our fundraisers; the Samoa Bowl COmmittee for the Samoa Bowl every year and support with the high school programs, and we would like to recognize the Athletic Office for their dedication to sports (Tumua & Ene) and the school bus division for assisting our football programs.”
In conclusion, Taase said “the VIKINGS would like to wish all the high school football teams from the far west Lions (Arona Samoa), to the Marist Fa’asao Crusaders (Filo Langkilde), the KFO (Time Sitala), the Champs (THS- Okland Salavea), Nu’uuli VocTech (Rod Atafua) and Samoana Sharks (Sila Samuelu) — the very best. We hope no major injuries will happen to any of our student athletes.”
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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