TAFUNA WARRIORS ARE 50% READY FOR THE SEASON, BUT THE FOCUS IS THERE
“Preseason Huddle” highlights one of the top football teams on island that has been a championship competitor for the past years, but last year, fell short to defending their 2011- 12 ASHSAA football league Varsity championship title last year, the Tafuna High School Warriors.
On the Junior Varsity side: the Warriors are the proud owners of a 4-peat undefeated championship title — the last two under the auspices of then head JV coach, Okland Salave’a.
Which brings us to the Warriors latest change to ramp up its presence on the football field — Okland Salave’a has been named the new head coach for the THS football program, taking over from former Head Coach Jason Magalei, who has chosen to focus on personal commitments this year.
Salave’a brings to the Varsity head coach position a reality check to the Warriors game plan for this coming ASHSAA football season that sees him taking over the reins to coach some the same players he took to two JV championship titles.
He told Samoa News, “So far right now, Tafuna is about fifty percent ready for the season, but it’s a good thing that we have two more weeks to get ready, because so far, from the looks of things, I would say our team is about fifty percent prepared for the season.”
Asked about changes he’s made to the team as the new Head Coach for the Varsity, Salave’a said, “I really didn’t change anything, everything was there, but the thing that I am doing now is to reinforcing the kids to spending more time in the weight room, to get better, to get stronger, and then the conditioning part, we had to kind of push that part to the kids, so that they will know that they need to lift weights and do better conditioning to prep up for the upcoming season.”
Salave’a stated, “the biggest thing and the main thing that we keep telling our kids is that we need to work hard, and work together as a team. We got a lot of new kids we’re trying to mold them together, and that’s the biggest thing now and our goal this year, is to have these kids play together and work hard as a team.”
According to the new head coach, the Warriors Varsity squad has a limit to the team players, and their cut off number is 50, and as of now, he has exactly fifty players registered on his roster.
Known as the high school with the most number of enrolled students on island, Tafuna High School is also the only school that divides its football team into two management systems — one for Varsity, the other for Junior Varsity.
The Junior Varsity division now in the hands of former JV Head Coach Kolose Ili, who led the Warriors to their first two undefeated JV Championship seasons, which led to the 4-peat record currently held by THS. Salave’a took over from Ili when he left island to coach for Oregon State University.
Now in his second year back with the Warriors, ‘Koluse’ as he’s know to his fans and players, worked with Salave’a last year, taking the JV Warriors to the top again. According to JV Head Coach Ili, the JV system hasn’t changed, and they’re looking at the same goal again this year for a 5-peat record.
“We take the same approach every year, our goal stays the same every year and I am pretty sure it’s the same with every other high school, and that’s winning the Championship so our preparations are very important.”
He added, “our JV team, we have been working in the weight room and on the field working on plays and we feel that’s very important for us in order to achieve our goal every year like I said, our goal remains the same, and we’re hoping to win our fifth Championship this year and …I know it’s not going to be easy this time around, but the kids have been coming around, they have been in the classrooms running plays and stuff and working in the weight room to building their strength for the preparation for this season.”
The key to success for their JV squad according to Ili is “…getting the system in play regardless of who the coach is, but the system is still there, and we like it that way and it’s been working and we’ll continue to play the same way until someone else comes up and beats us to the top.”
Both Salave’a and Ili want to thank all of those who have supported them during their summer camps and preparations for the season.
“We have a lot of support and we have a lot of people from off island starting with the Tennessee Camp, the June Jones Camp, our team Booster Club, the parents, Tafuna High School’s been able to put in money, put in donations, put in time to feed the kids, put in water, ice and whatever was needed during the Spring and the Summer time, and also with the uniforms during our fundraisers so we want to thank the public for their support and for giving us money for some uniforms.
“All the representatives for the Itu’au Malosi and the Tualauta Counties, those people have been really helpful, also the business communities around here have just been generous for all the donations so we’ve been able to suit up not only the JV but also the Varsity for the upcoming season.”
(The Samoa News “Huddle” coverage of the 2012- 13 ASHSAA football season is brought to you by Coca-Cola and Powerade, distributed exclusively by GHC Reid & Co. Ltd. ‘Oloa O Leala’, Your Family of Fine Beverages.)