Savannah State recruited two players from American Samoa to help on the offensive line
Could that be a war chant?
It’s what Savannah State coach Steve Davenport thought he heard one morning as walked from his office to preseason football camp at T.A. Wright Stadium.
Sure enough, Epafara Moananu and Ioane Ioane — two Tiger signees from American Samoa — had their teammates riled up with a little slice of island tradition.
“It was like what you’d see on TV, and the kids were eating it up,” Davenport said. “It went on for three or four-minutes.”
Davenport and the Tigers expect Moananu and Ioane to make an impact on the football program for the next four years.
Moananu and Ioane used a recruiting service called Field House 100 to find a place to play football collegiately after starring in high school football in American Samoa.
“I looked on the Internet and Savannah State looked like a good place, very friendly,” Moananu said.
Davenport said they played on a Samoan all-star team that competed against the Australians.
“A trusted friend from UAB (where Davenport had been an assistant coach) told us they were good kids, and they would be fine this far away from home,” Davenport said. “We saw film and liked them both. They’re good-sized kids, and that doesn’t grow on trees.”
Ioane, known to his friends as John John, is a 6-foot-5, 320-pound right tackle who was slated to start for the Tigers before suffering a left knee injury.
Moananu, nicknamed Epa, is a 6-3, 285-pound right tackle.
“They still have some learning to do,” SSU offensive coordinator Terance Mathis said. “It’s not a total surprise. The game goes fast for them right now, but they play with great energy and great enthusiasm.”
And they came a great distance. Savannah State University’s slogan is “you can get anywhere from here.” The Samoans’ arrival could change that slogan slightly to a more fitting — you can get here from anywhere. American Samoa is located in the south Pacific about 2,300 miles south of Hawaii and 2,000 miles north of New Zealand.
From the Samoan Islands, the players took a plane to Hawaii before heading to Los Angeles. From L.A., they flew to Texas where Epa had an uncle. They drove from Texas to Savannah.
“It’s a good school, and it was a good opportunity to play here at Savannah State,” John John said. “We give thanks to all the coaches and staff. Thank you.”