ASHSAA Football Junior Varsity features Warriors & Sharks claiming first blood
Pago Pago AMERICAN SAMOA — This past weekend, the junior varsity division teams in the ASHSAA 2018-2019 football season were front and center. The Leone Lions led by Head Coach Okland Salave’a suffered a heartbreaking loss against Head Coach Kevin Magalei and his Tafuna Warriors in a match that slipped away from the Lions in the final moments of the game, last Thursday evening.
Congresswoman Aumua Amata sponsors the 2018 ASHSAA High School Football season coverage brought to you by Samoa News.
Saturday morning's match up between the defending divisional champions, the Samoana Sharks and the Faga’itua Vikings featured the very unpredictable Sharks quarterback - a major threat to the division — as he is not only a precise passer, but dangerous in the ground game which helped the Sharks win the title last season. Viliamu Tanielu is back at it again.
SAMOANA 30 – FAGA’ITUA 14
The Vikings defense did their best in trying to contain Viliamu Tanielu inside the pocket last Saturday, but Samoana’s most dangerous weapon couldn’t be stopped from there. The Sharks offensive unit led by offensive coordinator Keith Leuta made sure his boys were steady, as they came out and played a No-Huddle Offense that helped move the chains downfield.
6:11 in the first quarter and the Sharks decided to keep to the ground game, as Viliamu Tanielu faked the hand off to Ah-Cheem pulling back and keeping the ball as he crossed the goal line for the first touchdown of the game.
The two-point attempt was a play action pass from Viliamu to his tight end and Malaetasi Amisone secured the catch for the early 8-point lead.
Leading the Vikings offense out on the field was Fa’afouina Ta’ase who started off with the running game, unfortunately for the Vikings it was a quick four and out as they opted to punt it away on a fourth and long situation.
During Samoana’s second offensive possession of the match, Tanielu decided to go to their ‘Air-Attack’ as they gained huge yardage on the long pass to Malaetasi Amisone who spotted the Sharks a first down opportunity inside the red zone. From there, Tanielu decided to roll out with the ball looking for a receiver, but as soon as he read that the defense was pulling back to watch the pass, Tanielu didn’t hesitate to tuck and run with it, scoring the Sharks' second touchdown of the match.
The two- point conversion was a fake reverse hand off to (#84) that secured a 16-point lead with just 2:49 remaining in the opening quarter of play.
Ta’ase and his offense did a great job moving the chains downfield after receiving the kick off from the Sharks – but they choked when they breached the red zone.
As the Vikings were knocking at the door from the 1-yard line, Samoana’s defense turned it up a notch and built a solid wall that denied the Vikings a six point opportunity, turning the ball over at the half yard line for their offense to take the field.
From there, Samoana’s first play to get themselves out of the danger zone was a long pass from Tanielu to Sefo Iosefa who hauled in that pass down the sidelines and went on to score Samoana’s third touchdown of the game: a 99-yard pass reception to take a 22-point lead with just 1:21 remaining in the half.
In the second half, the Vikings decided to change things up on offense and they brought out LJ Apisala at quarterback, and moved Ta’ase to tailback, as the Vikings sure didn’t look like the same team that played in the first half.
5:53 into the third quarter, and the Vikings were on the move. A consistent running game by Ta’ase and Jesse Toilolo spotted the Vikings a first and goal opportunity at the 5-yard line. From there, Apisala decided to fake a hand off to Toilolo and kept the ball as he crossed the goal line for Faga’itua’s first touchdown of the game.
The two-point conversion was trap play to Toilolo who was immediately brought down by a host of Shark defenders. Nevertheless they were now trailing the Sharks 6-22.
3:42 remaining in the ball game, and the Sharks decide to give it one last shot – keeping to the running game, trying to run out the clock and gain momentum towards the end zone. Samoana’s strategy worked. The Sharks first and goal from the 5-yard line had Tanielu sending O’Neil Ah-Chee straight up the middle for their final touchdown of the game.
The two-point conversion was a fake hand off to Ah-Chee as Tanielu pulled the ball back and decided to go for it, securing the extra point conversion for the Sharks, extending the lead 30-6.
But the Vikings wouldn't give up — which seems to be the mantra of all of the island’s football teams so far this season — win or lose — it’s how you play the game.
3:22 remaining in the match, and the Vikings first play on offense after receiving the kick off from the Sharks was an 85-yard pass reception from Apisala to Jared Lotulelei who had no defender on him and was wide open. Lotulelei didn’t hesitate, as he turned on the afterburners and marched his way into the end zone for Faga’itua’s second touchdown of the game.
The two-point conversion was a quick pass from Apisala to Sikoa Pese.
Final score: Samoana 30- Fagaitua 14
TAFUNA 14 – LEONE 12
The Warriors and the Lions match up had the Lions leading the match from the beginning, but the game slipped from the Lions during the final moments of the game, as the Lions wide receivers just couldn’t haul in the precise passes from Oakland Salave’a.
Early in the ball game, the Warriors shook things up with the passing game, as Star Lotulelei who leads Tafuna’s offense at quarterback sent Petesio Iosefo up the middle with a 5-yard run for Tafuna’s first touchdown of the game.
The two-point conversion was denied with just 5:12 remaining in the opening quarter of play.
1:22 still in the opening quarter, and the Lions offense led by quarterback Oakland Salave’a stirred things up in the running game, as the Lions option running game paid off big time on their way to the red zone.
Leone’s second and goal from the 4-yard line and Salave’a pitches the ball out to Lopa who crosses the goal line and secures Leone’s first touchdown of the match to tie things up at 6 a piece.
The field goal conversion by Salave’a was blocked by a host of Warrior defenders.
6:59 into the second quarter, and the Lions dominated on special teams – Tafuna’s fourth and long situation and they decided to punt it away. The punt is blocked by the Lions; bringing the Leone offense out to convert on downs. From the 20-yard line, Oakland Salave’a decides to go for a quarterback keep and weaves his way through the middle to score Leone’s second touchdown of the game.
The two-point conversion was a wide open pass to Legget who dropped the pass in the end zone.
7:55 in the fourth quarter and the Warriors defense was able to stop the Lions option game – a second and long situation for the Lions that went sour when a snap to Salave’a was fumbled in the backfield and recovered by the Warriors on the Lions 10-yard line. From there, Lotulelei decided to tuck and run with it behind his blockers inside to the end zone to score the Warriors second touchdown of the game. This tied things up at 12-12
But here was the game winner – Tafuna’s two-point attempt was a reverse hand off to John Allen who stormed towards the corner of the end zone and dove in for the Warriors.