‘Clash of the Titans’
Last Saturday during the opening of the American Samoa High School Athletics Association (ASHSAA) 2017-2018 football season, Samoana and Leone met in the highly anticipated "Clash of the Titans".
This year's coverage of ASHSAA football is proudly sponsored by Congresswoman Aumua Amata.
The Lions/Sharks match up followed an exciting battle between Faga'itua and Tafuna, with the Warriors claiming victories in both divisions - varsity and JV (See yesterday's Samoa News for details).
Over the years, Samoa News has noticed that the Sharks could never finish a season with one quarterback leading their offense. It’s either they bring someone in during mid-season, or they'd continuously lean on their ground attack.
This year, everything has changed, as the Sharks have chosen Anthony Feala to take the helm for the varsity's offensive squad. Feala, a junior from Pago Pago, not only led the AYFS Bears to a championship title back in 2014, he also played a key role in Samoana winning the JV title last year.
Although he threw two interceptions last Saturday, Feala finally settled in the pockets for the Sharks and proved to everyone that Samoana will be ‘the’ team to look out for this year, after continuously feeding the ball during their air attack, sending the Lions home with a lopsided 33-8 loss in their first game of the season.
VARSITY DIVISION (Sharks 33, Lions 8)
In the opening moments of the game, Leone saw first hand Samoana's strong defensive front, led by Solomona Seiuli and David Mikaele, forcing Leone to punt in their opening offensive series of the game - a four and out situation for the Lions.
Led by Feala at quarterback, the Sharks were able to put in some solid running yards at the hands of Samia, but it didn’t take long for the Sharks to hit the air attack. At only 6:56 into the opening quarter, Feala hit his target, Elliot Lelei, from mid-field on a post route to the end zone to score the opening touchdown of the game.
Not too long after that – only minutes after their touchdown celebration - Samoana’s sideline roared again when David Mikaele stripped the ball from Leone’s quarterback and took it back to the end zone for their second touchdown of the game.
A two-point conversion, a reverse half-back pass out to Anthony Feala, was good enough to secure a 14-point lead for the Sharks.
In the second quarter, during Samoana’s third down possession on Leone’s 5-yard line, Feala rolled out with the play action pass to find Elliot Lelei again in the end zone, for another Samoana touchdown.
The field goal conversion by Lelei put the Sharks up 21-0.
Suddenly, there was a shift in momentum near the end of the first half, when Iverson Ta’ase hooked up with Antwan Legget for a long touchdown pass, giving the Lions' their first touchdown of the game.
A two-point conversion by Legget had the Lions trailing 8-21 at halftime.
Leone started off the second half with a strong defensive front and a steady backfield, as they were able to pick off Feala twice, although this didn't stop him from passing. Late in the third quarter, Feala’s arm became more steady, after throwing two interceptions.
He bounced back and threw for another touchdown, connecting with Lelei for a third time in the end zone, extending their lead 28-8.
In the final quarter of play, Lelei scored his fourth touchdown of the game, after Samoana called a half-back pass from Samia to Lelei inside Leone territory. The pursuit from the defense towards the run really cleared the way for an open pass to Lelei in the end zone, as the Sharks claimed their first victory of the season with a final score of 33-8.
JUNIOR VARSITY (Sharks 34, Lions 6)
During the JV match-up, Samoana wasted no time, looking to their air attack with Junior Tanielu at the helm.
(Tanielu led the AYFS Bears to a championship title last year, and is now leading the Sharks JV offensive unit at quarterback)
At 6:56 in the opening quarter, Tanielu hooked up with one of his favorite receivers during his time with the AYFS Bears - Avery Seumanutafa - for the opening touchdown of the game.
Minutes later, Tanielu marched a 5-yard touchdown run into the end zone to take a two possession lead over the Lions.
The Sharks' lead widened to 18-0 after Patrick Seui ran in another Samoana touchdown in the second quarter.
Not too long after that, when the Lions got the ball back for an offensive possession just after the Sharks scored, Leone's quarterback fumbled the ball which was picked up by Paul Fano who ran it all the way to the house for a 70-yard defensive touchdown.
A two-point conversion by Tanielu bumped Samoana's lead to 28-0.
It wasn’t until the final quarter of play that Leone was able to get through Samoana’s bruising defensive unit.
It was Joshua Taani who finally put Leone on the score board after receiving a long pass from Ta’ase for their first - and only - touchdown of the game.
Just when Leone thought it was over, Samoana brought Paul Fano to play at quarterback during the final minutes of the game.
Fano managed to punch in his second touchdown of the game, sending the Lions home with a disheartening 34-6 loss.