ASHSAA Wk 7 Varsity: Warriors victorious, Wildcats stun the Lions in a tie
Last Saturday’s Varsity Division competition in the ongoing American Samoa High School Athletic Association (ASHSAA) football league took a surprising turn, especially the Nu’uuli Wildcats’ stunning the No.1 seed in the division, the Leone Lions after a 20- 20 tie with all the Lions key players back in full effect. Head Coach for the Lions Okland Salave’a however wasn’t on the sidelines as he is currently off island escorting his father to his medical appointments.
The opening game of last Saturday’s triple header featured the Tafuna Warriors who continue to come out victorious after claiming victory over the Samoana Sharks, in a harsh 28 - 12 win – on a scorching hot sunny Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Stadium field.
WARRIORS 28 – SHARKS 12
It was the Warriors who attacked first and succeeded in the opening quarter of their match last Saturday, as Tafuna’s Tala Sufia led the Warriors as quarterback. After the Sharks failed to put a stop to Tafuna’s vicious running game, the Warriors continued to punish Samoana’s defense when Sufia aired out a bullet pass to Gilboy Papali’i for their opening touchdown of the game.
Their two-point conversion pass play to Andrew Toilolo was immediately stopped in the backfield by Sharks middle linebacker, Cornelius Aiava.
It wasn’t until the second quarter of play when the Sharks could finally answer back, after a long run by Samoana’s Samia to set them up inside Tafuna’s red zone. Then on third down, Ralph Taufa’asau with the one hand grab inside the end zone, spotted the Sharks first six points of the game to tie things up.
Their field goal conversion by sophomore cornerback and field goal kicker Elliot Lelei was no good and they tied six a piece, midway through the opening half of the ball game.
The Warriors defensive unit stepped up their game, when Baldwin Wilson came up with an interception deep inside Samoana’s territory, to set up a fortunate offensive attack for Tafuna – a fake inside hand off as Sufia stormed through midfield to take in their second touchdown of the game, with 2:29 remaining in the second quarter.
Late in the second, Samoana again pinned deep in their own territory decided to go with a delay hand off play to Fa’avae, who was immediately tackled in the backfield by Wilson and a host of Warriors for a safety, adding three more points to the Warriors lead, as they went into half time with the Warriors ahead 15 - 6.
Opening up the second half of play was the Sharks taking their first offensive series of the half after receiving the opening kick off the second half, Samoana’s first play, a pass – was picked off by So’oso’o Letuli of Tafuna, inside Samoana’s territory, to set up another Warriors first down.
Tafuna’s second down on the Sharks 5-yard line and Sufia hooked up with Niles Tuamoheloa for another Warriors touchdown. Their two-point conversion to Toilolo was good enough to extend their lead to 22 - 6.
Taufa’asau brought the Sharks back to life in the second half of play with his second touchdown catch of the game, but it still wasn’t enough to reach the Warriors extensive lead with Sufia at the helm of Tafuna’s offense, as he led the Warriors to their 28 - 12 victory over the Sharks, their second win over Samoana in regular season.
WILDCATS 20 – LIONS 20
The Wildcats shocked the Lions when they took in the opening touchdown of the game early in the opening quarter – a high snap over Ronnie Ma’ae at midfield blinded Leone as the Wildcats rushed their backfield in full effect, as Ma’ae was taken down by Branson Pualau while Nu’uuli’s (#54) scooped up the fumble and turned it upfield for the opening touchdown of the game.
Their two-point conversion pass to Daniel Fano was good enough to secure the Wildcats an 8-point lead with 5:54 remaining in the opening quarter of the game.
With penalties helping the Lions move closer into Nu’uuli’s red zone, it was a pass play from Ma’ae to Ali’itoa Langkilde that scored the Lions their first touchdown of the game. Their two-point conversion, pass out to Juliano Falaniko, tied up the ball game at 8 a piece leading into half time of the ball game. Late in the second, the Lions pass rush caught Nu’uuli’s quarterback in the end zone for a safety, as the Lions came back and took the lead 8 - 10.
Not too long after that, with a minute remaining in the first half, Nu’uuli turned to their fullback Anthony for their second touchdown of the game as they came back to take the lead 16 - 10 after their two-point conversion turned out successful.
The second half of play had the Wildcats written all over it, as they came out with two safeties to take a 20 - 10 lead – but Ma’ae and the Leone’s offense wasn’t settling for a loss as Ma’ae hooked up with Langkilde and Ah Loe to tie up the ball game 20 - 20 for a tie.
There are no overtime regulations in the regular season, so Leone and Nu’uuli are in the first tie of the season.