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American Samoa selecting ‘Best of the Best’ for JPS Paradise Classic III

Lions coaching staff led by Head Coach Okland Salave'a (center) posing for a group photo just before practice in August 2016. [SN file photo]

The Junior Prep Sports (JPS) Paradise Football Classic III will be hosted in Hawai’i for the third time this year, where the ‘Best of the Best’ players from Hawai’i, California, and American Samoa will field their best performance during the annual All-Star Game.

And under the management of JPS American Samoa president Lydia Faleafine, the territory will be represented well, come January 2018. 

According to the JPS Commissioner of American Samoa, Tupulua Bone Ta’ase, the event has three competitions of All-Stars – High School Football, High School Girls Volleyball, and Division I- 7th and 8th graders football. All football games will be held at Aloha Stadium.

Ta’ase told Samoa News, “The purpose of the PCIII is to give the athletes an opportunity not only to compete but also to showcase their talent at the state level.”

He continued “For instance, PCII last year provided an opportunity for university recruiters to offer scholarships to many of our football players. For the Division I players, football has changed, and university recruiters are tracking football players as early as 7th and 8th grade.”

American Samoa's delegation to the PCIII is scheduled to depart the territory on Jan. 5, 2018 and return home Jan. 15th.

The JPS Paradise Classic III will be a one-week event and the opening ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2018 at the Blaisdale Convention Center with all teams from Hawai’i, American Samoa, and California in attendance.

When asked about the selection of players from the territory and the process involved, Ta’ase explained, “The selection is still in the final stages as the high school football season comes to a close. We won't know until the end of the championship game.

 “For Division I, final day for tryouts is Thursday, Nov. 16th and the final list should be in by Saturday, Nov. 17th. On the volleyball side, tryouts are still being conducted. The coaches are the ones making the selections, and we plan to take the best of the best players to represent Amerika Samoa.”

Ta’ase added head coach Okland Salave’a of the JPS Lions would lead the D1. “The D1 team consists of… 32 players and eight coaches. As a reward for the JPS participants last season, each team: JPS Vikings, JPS Warriors, JPS Wildcats, and JPS Lions get five slots of pre-selected players. The remaining slots are open to all players to try out for.”

Regarding finances, Ta’ase told Samoa News they will be fundraising and there is a collaborative effort between ASDOE, ASG, JPS-AS, JPS America (Hawai’i), parents, sponsors, and the community who are working together to raise money for the trip, which will cost over $100,000.

“First and foremost I want to thank our Heavenly Father for the blessings on our children, that we are given this opportunity to compete at the state level,” Taase said.

He acknowledged Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga; Fono leaders; DOE Director Dr. Ruth Matagi Tofiga; the cabinet; CEO/President of JPS America, Robert Faleafine; Tuli Fruean of Hawaiian Airlines; John Raynor and Sia Atofau of KHJ; Samoa News; the business community; principals; teachers; JPS coaches Oakland Salave’a, Sua’ese Pooch Ta’ase, Andrew Bill Ena, and Kolose Ili; parents; and especially the players. "Thank you all.”