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LEONE LIONS ENTER 2014 FOOTBALL SEASON WITH HIGH EXPECTATIONS

tony@samoanews.com
Leone Lions team captain Elu Ayden, a returning All Star player for the Lions. Ayden has been an all purpose player for the Lions throughout these past three years, and has already been offered scholarships from some of the Division I colleges in the United States, through the help of Field House 100. [photo: TG]

Leone High School “Home of the Lions” is confirmed to compete in the 2014-2015 ASHSAA Football Season in both the Varsity and Junior Varsity divisions. Samoa News noticed during our team coverage that the number of players for the Lions has dramatically dropped this year in both divisions. How this will affect the team will be interesting to observe this season, with its Head Coach Arona Samoa noting that no matter the numbers — the Lions will play ball, will compete.
 
Coverage of this year’s American Samoa High School Athletics Association Football season is brought to you by Powerade and Coca-Cola, distributed exclusively by GHC Reid & Co. Ltd.— Oloa O Leala — Your Family of Fine Beverages.
 
In an interview with Samoa News, Head Coach Samoa said the Leone Lions Football Program has been preparing preparing for the 2014-15 ASHSAA season for the last three months. “However, since the update of regulations and rules that ASHSAA has installed this year, we haven’t been able to suit the kids up or hit in practice –  this is the first week we’ve suited up the kids in gear, and the kids are coming along. So far, everything is falling in order as expected.”
 
As to the number of players on the Lions roster this year for both divisions, Samoa said, “On the Varsity squad, we have a little over 25 kids that turned up this year to be active members of the team. The JV squad is estimated to about 35 kids –  we are trying our best to do what we can with the kids that we have right now.”
 
“I’d say 8,” Samoa noted, “on a scale of 1 to 10” – referring to the experience level and skill of the players they have.
 
“We lost a lot of kids through graduation, and some whose parents have decided to take them off island for school or to play football. Some have transferred out this year to other schools on island, I don’t know why.”
 
He added, “It doesn’t matter if we have 10 kids or 15 kids on our team, Leone Football will still move forward, and we will come out to compete no matter the circumstances.”
 
Last year, the Lions finished off the season ranked No.3 in the Varsity Division, with 4 wins, 2 losses, with a grade of 67% out of a 100. They played six matches throughout the season, but ended short with their loss to the Sharks leading up to the playoffs.
 
The Lions Junior Varsity Program almost closed off the season as the league’s only Undefeated team, but their loss to the Warriors in their last game of the season, scratched it. However, they completed the 2013-14 ASHSAA Football season as the Junior Varsity Champions.
 
According to the Lions head coach, their football program is basically the same, with techniques and knowledge of the coaches learned from the summer football camps that came down playing “a big plus for us” — but as to strategy, technique and position, “it’s all still the same.”
 
Samoa told Samoa News he thinks “the expectations are high. This is my third year of taking over the football program. The first year we made it to the championship game, the second year (last year) we ended up in third place – this year with the amount of our kids coming up to the Varsity from the JV level, I am comfortable that Leone will come out to compete. Our goal and mission for this season is to do the best we can.”
 
The head coach went on to thank “the Leone High School alumni out there, and the Reid Family, and all the alumni of Leone who’ve donated so much to have our kids prepared for this year’s football season, not only with shoes but also shoulder pads and all the other stuff that we needed. We would also like to thank our principal and all of the staff members here at Leone High School, as well as the community who’ve supported us for the last three years that I’ve taken over Leone’s football program.”
 
He concluded, “Special thanks goes out to my coaches who’ve dedicated their time in training and coaching the kids leading up to the season. I know it’s not easy to leave your families behind, and there are much better things you could’ve utilized your time with, but you’ve dedicated it to coming out here to the field and helping out with the kids – thanks to all our wives and our families. I know it’s not easy losing your husbands at home, where there could be family time, but you’ve dedicated it to having our kids ready for this football season, so thank you all very much for your patience and your support.”

Leone Lions coaching staff, led by Head Coach Arona Samoa (2nd from left). (left to right) Patrick Maulolo, Arona Samoa, Shiloh Pritchard, and coach Jerome. [photo: TG]


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