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ASHSAA Football 2018 kicks off with a Big Bang

Fitu Amata Jr. of Samoana carrying the ballTafuna Warriors Koison Ozu with the ballBen Tikeri of Leone returning this kick off Advent Migi of the Vikings taking the ball
Warriors and Vikings collect victories for Week No. 1

Veterans Stadium, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa High School Athletic Association (ASHSAA) officially kicked off their 2018 High School Football Season this past Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Stadium with two mind blowing match ups that were excellent season openers.

Coverage of ASHSAA High School Football 2018 season is proudly sponsored and brought to you by Congresswoman Aumua Amata.

Honoring this year’s opening ceremony was Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Governor Lemanu Sialega Peleti Mauga. Gov. Lolo had the honor of throwing the official season opening pass to Samoana High School wide receiver Zephaniah Pati.

Department Of Education director Dr. Ruth Matagi Tofiga spoke to student athletes and their coaches during the ceremony and advised the players to be committed and to respect one another. She said, “And that message is not only for you students but also to your coaches, your parents, and everyone else. It takes teamwork to win, not an individual.”

She concluded, “One of the things that I look for when I watch football, is when a Son of American Samoa returns to the territory to visit, I don’t need to know their name, I look at their character – E ese le manaia o se alo o le atunu’u ae va’ai atu lona atunu’u o le mea muamua, very humble. Humility, you win games like that. E le’o le fia malovale i luga o le malae ma amioga e le fia va’ava’ai iai seisi – All these values were taught at home, now we’re re-enforcing it in the schools. On that note, I want to wish every single one of you the best this school year.

ASHSAA Football 2018 opening match ups were the Tafuna Warriors and the Samoana Sharks, and the Faga’itua Vikings and the Leone Lions.


Officially opening up this year’s football season was a re-cap of last year’s Championship battle between Head Coach Taveuveu Kolose Ili and his Tafuna Warriors who went up against the defending Champions, Head Coach Pati Pati and his mighty Samoana Sharks, who came out to defend the Empire, but unfortunately, came up short in their first match of the season.

The Warriors, who opted to receive the opening kick off of the match, didn’t hesitate to go to their passing game early in the first quarter with Francisco Mauigoa under center.

Tafuna’s first air attack of the game, a pass intended for Frank Mulipola was intercepted and picked off by Samoana’s Darius McMoore who brought Samoana’s offense on the field for the first time deep within Samoana territory.

Samoana’s first offensive drive of the match didn’t go far, as the Warriors defensive unit were rock solid with their play by play coverage of Samoana’s Run-N-Gun gameplay.

As the Warriors settled in for their second offensive drive of the match, they stuck to the ground and pound pace and sent Miguel Ha’atoa through the middle for an 8-yard reception to score their first touchdown of the game with just 3:27 into the opening quarter of the game. Their two-point attempt in their I-Formation was an inside hand off to Koison Ozu who muscled his way passed the goal line to give the Warriors and early 8-point lead.

After receiving the kick off from the Warriors, the Sharks didn’t hesitate to go to their air attack with Anthony Feala under center – after a quick pass to John Uga’itafa who gained numerous yardage for the Sharks on a screen play, the Sharks were already threatening inside the red zone. Unfortunately, that momentum was quickly shut down by Tafuna’s defense. Samoana’s third and goal attempt to the end zone was a quick pass play intended for Fitu Amata Jr. but was intercepted by the Warriors middle linebacker Setefano Galea’i for a turnover, bringing the Warriors offense back out on the field with just 5:30 remaining in the first half.

Putting the pedal to the metal in the first half of the game, the Warriors didn’t hesitate to put the ball in the air again – Tafuna’s first down deep in their own territory, and Mauigoa looked far to find Koison Ozu on a swing route towards the sideline for a long pass that was hauled in by Ozu en-route to the end zone untouched, but unfortunately for the Warriors, as they were celebrating, there was a flag on the field, a penalty called within the trenches – a holding call against the Warriors which put them five yards back from where the initial play started.

Tafuna then decided to go to a conventional offensive game-plan to try and settle things down and stuck to the running game. But when it was clogged up by the vicious Samoana defense, the Warriors decided to go to the air again – with just two passing plays from Mauigoa to Frank Mulipola, the Warriors were already knocking at the door threatening to go for six.

The Warriors playing a spread offense with a single back decided to stick to their air game with quick passes for short yardage. 1:22 remaining in the opening half, and Mauigoa fired a quick one intended for Panapa Filoiali’i, but was picked off by Oteta Saunoamaali’i inside the red zone, and returned that intercepted to midfield to deny the Warriors from a second end zone appearance.

Feala and the Sharks offense were hyped up coming on the field after that interception by Saunoamaali’i – so hyped up that the Sharks immediately went to their spread offense and stuck to their air attack. Feala firing left and right on quick short yard passing plays was doing quite well as the clock wound down to close the first half. But, with just 37 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Feala fired a long one downfield intended for John Uga’itafa but was disappointed when they saw Pulenu’u Fono of Tafuna pick it off and returned that interception to midfield.

Head Coach Kolose Ili decided to send out his offense some explosive passing plays to close off the first half of the game, as Mauigoa fired two perfectly placed passes to the numbers of Mulipola and Panapa Filoiali’i to spot Tafuna another threatening opportunity to score – 7 seconds remaining in the first half, and Francisco Mauigoa walked in a 5-yard quarterback keep for the Warriors second touchdown of the game.

The Warriors were denied their two-point attempt by Sharks’ Masaichi Aviu breaking through to the backfield to bring down Mauigoa for a sack. Warriors were now 14 - 0.

To open up the second half of play, the Warriors sent a squib kick off to the middle that bounced between a host of Samoana Sharks, but no one was able to recover the ball, as Warriors’ Frank Mulipola stormed through the middle and fell on the ball to bring out their offense again inside Samoana’s territory.

From there, Mauigoa and his offense opened up the second half with a deep slant pass to Herman Sufia to record their third touchdown of the game, a precise ball placement by Mauigoa to Sufia extended their lead 20 - 0.

3:14 in the third quarter, and the Sharks were finally able to answer back to Tafuna’s unstoppable defense, who were hyped along the way to stopping everything the Sharks were giving them throughout the first half.

Samoana’s second and goal reception from the 3-yard line, and Feala rammed his way through the middle scoring Samoana’s first touchdown of the game that didn’t come easy. Luckily, Feala stretched his hands out so that the ball would cross the goal line, as the Warriors held him just shy, nevertheless, official Valusia Talataina threw up both hands making it official that the Sharks scored their first six points of the match.

Their extra point attempt was a field goal conversion by Paul Fano, that was blocked by the vicious Setefano Galea’i and the Warriors defense to keep the Sharks at a distance as they trailed the Warriors 20 - 6.Everything seemed to be going in Samoana’s favor from then on, as their kick off to the Warriors after that touchdown, an onside kick that bounced off of a Tafuna player, and bounced right back into Samoana’s kick off team’s possession to bring out their offensive unit again with just 6 seconds remaining in the third.

8:12 into the final quarter of the match, and Samoana had already breached the red zone and threatening to go for six — Samoana’s second and goal reception inside Warrior territory and Feala sent Paul Fano straight up the middle to scoring their second touchdown of the game. Their extra point attempt was a fake field goal, and the holder Zephanaiah Pati rolled out to fire a pass to Julius McMoore who hauled in that pass inside the end zone and brought the Sharks back to life to trail the Warriors 20 - 14.

3:12 remaining in the ball game, and Francisco Mauigoa and the Warriors fired a deep ball again towards Sufia from midfield, that pass was hauled in by Sufia en-route to the end zone to scoring the last and final touchdown of the match for Tafuna, a 52-yard reception that put the Warriors ahead by 12 points. Their two-point attempt was a quarterback keeper by Mauigoa who scrambled to the far side to find the end zone and extend their lead 28 - 14 to close off the game —and collect their first victory of the season.


The second match up of the day was a face off between Head Coach Sua’ese Pooch Ta’ase and his Faga’itua Vikings, and Head Coach Okland Salave’a and his mighty Leone Lions. The Vikings showed that they were a force to be reckoned with this season, as they immediately put some distance with a lead against the Lions throughout the match. Not to say Leone laid down — they proved that they weren’t to be counted out as they inched back as the match went along, patience paying off for the Lions as they trailed back to try to stop the Vikings steaming “no-huddle” offense.

The Vikings offense had a threatening look to them last Saturday, as they had a mobile quarterback who could run and gun the football from all angles of the field, Advent Migi, who carried the load for the Vikings last season, is back to do it again, this time as a Senior.

After gaining numerous yards on the ground game in their first offensive drive of the game, Migi decided to lure the defense in with the running game, and looked far to fire a long pass to a wide open Steven Fiso for their first touchdown of the game. Their field goal conversion by Manuita Sofeni was good enough to put them ahead by 7 points with just 7:12 into the opening quarter of the game.

The Lions offensive unit led by MJ Danielson opened things up with the option game, as they gained yardage downfield – but as they switched it up to their passing game, the Lions were disappointed to see their first pass play of the game intended for Antwan Legget picked off by the Vikings Tevita Tevita to turn the ball over to the Vikings, bringing out their offense for their second offensive drive of the match.

Leone’s defensive hold stressed the Vikings during their drive, as they couldn’t get things going after a three and out, mind you the Vikings are going off with their No-Huddle offense so the pace for Faga’itua was very fast aimed at tiring out the Lions.

It didn’t take long for the Lions to answer back, as MJ Danielson sent Iversen Ta’ase up the middle with their non-stop option attack to stop Leone, a threatening first and goal opportunity inside the red zone. From there, the Lions were able to punch it in for six after Danielson rolled out to try and find an open receiver, but when he couldn’t he tucked and ran it into the end zone for Leone’s first touchdown of the game with 3:22 remaining in the opening quarter of the play.

Their two point attempt was the same play that went to the opposite side, unfortunately, the Vikings were ready for them this time, and denied Leone’s two point conversion and they held them down by a point, Vikings were leading 7 - 6.

Coming back onto the field from a time out to hold the clock at 2 seconds remaining for the opening quarter, the Vikings were knocking at the door inside the red zone from Leone’s 10-yard line, as Migi muscled his way passed defenders to scoring the Vikings second touchdown of the game on a quarterback keep. Their two point attempt was As the Vikings No-Huddle offense intensified in rhythm, the Lions were struggling to hold on as the Big Red Machine were firing on all cylinders, marching the chains downfield with their running game, and it didn’t take long for them to breach the red zone and punch it in for six – 8:12 into the second quarter and the Vikings Junior Maloa again marches pass the goal line for Faga’itua on a 15- yard reception to record their third touchdown of the game, on a counter play as they extend their lead 21 - 6.

3:11 remaining in the opening half of the match, and the Vikings who were denied from a first down situation near midfield were setting up for a field goal on fourth down – a 30-yard field goal reception by Manuita Sofeni was good enough to add onto the Vikings lead 24 - 6.

Just when you thought the drought was over the Lions, Faga’itua’s defense put on more pressure to stress out the Lions who were already struggling on a fourth and long situation. Setting up to punt the ball over to the Vikings, the Lions were shocked to see their front line dominated and over taken by a host of Vikings, as that punt was blocked by Migi and picked up by Loi Ulugalu of Faga’itua, who returned it to the end zone for a 10-yard defensive touchdown reception for the Vikings.

Their two-point attempt was a roll out pass play from Migi to his wide receiver (#10) which was good enough to extend Faga’itua’s lead to 32 - 6 with 1:10 remaining to play in the opening half.

To open up the second half of the match, Vikings’ Joseph Umu received the second half kick off, and weaved his way through the middle and out to the open field to spot the Vikings a huge first down play deep in Leone territory, he was luckily brought down by Ben Tikeri, but if it wasn’t for Tikeri that return would’ve been for six.

From the Lions 15-yard line, Migi decided to muscle his way through the middle with a quarterback keeper that was good enough for another Vikings touchdown. Their two-point conversion was a fade route pass to Steven Fiso, but Fiso couldn’t hold onto the rock as he came down into the end zone, nevertheless, the Vikings were inching away by the minute with their lead now at 38 - 6.

Just when the Vikings thought they’d found and unstoppable rhythm, the Lions started to stir things up on offense, as MJ Danielson led the Lions in their option game – the gameplay that was slowly working for them in the first half opened up big time in the second half of the match, after Danielson sent Iversen Ta’ase up the middle as Ta’ase muscled his way to gaining huge yardage for the Lions spotting them a first down on the Vikings 10-yard line. From there, Danielson stuck with the option game and decided to keep the ball and run it into the end zone for Leone’s second touchdown of the game.

Their two-point conversion was another quarterback keeper by Danielson that was sure enough to bring them back to life as they came back to trail the Vikings 38 - 14.

Not too long after that, coming back onto the field after a good defensive stop for Leone was Danielson and Leone’s offensive unit who didn’t hesitate to go to their option game and stuck with it.

Lions third down at midfield and Danielson decided to fake a hand off to Ta’ase and pulled the ball back from his option man and decided to take it himself through the heart of the Vikings defense, Danielson weaved his way through, broke out to the sidelines and was uncatchable as he saw nothing but the end zone to score Leone’s third touchdown of the game in this 55-yard touchdown reception.

Their two-point attempt was another carry by Danielson, but in his attempt to cross the goal line he was stopped immediately by Maurice Ta’ala just shy of the goal line to deny their two-point conversion, as the Lions came back to trail the Vikings 38 - 20.

Early in the final quarter of play, just as the Lions found their momentum, Migi who also leads the Vikings defense decided to shut them down – Leone’s first pass play in the fourth quarter, a pass from Danielson intended for Ben Tikeri was picked off by Migi at midfield, as Migi returned that interception all the way to Leone’s 20-yard line to spot the Vikings a threatening first down situation.

From there, Migi sent Umu straight up the middle as Umu slipped through defenders and out to the open field to scoring another Vikings touchdown. Their two-point attempt was a pitch play out to Umu again who stormed to the sidelines and dove into the end zone to extend their lead 46 - 20.

Just when the Vikings were celebrating a long distant victory, the Lions decided to inch closer just a bit more – Leone’s first down possession from their own 45-yard line, and MJ Danielson charged up a long pass that was aimed towards Legget, who beat a two-man coverage hauled in that pass and took it to the end zone for Leone’s fourth touchdown of the game. Their two-point attempt was a quarterback keeper by Danielson which was good enough to bring them back to trail the Vikings 46 - 28.

Unfortunately for the Lions time was against them, as the Vikings sailed back to the East with their first victory of the season.