The Blue Empire takes another JV football championship
The 10th and final weekend of the regular season for the American Samoa High School Athletics Association (ASHSAA) closed off a great run for the Samoana Sharks, who defeated the Vikings 20-6 to clinch this year's Junior Varsity football championship title, their second in a row.
This Saturday, the Sharks are aiming to come out strong, following a devastating loss to head coach Sua’ese Pooch Ta’ase and his Vikings who won the Senior Game this year.
Coverage of ASHSAA's 2017-18 football season is sponsored by Congresswoman Aumua Amata.
Principal Tupa’i Rod Atafua, head coach Pati Pati, and the Blue Empire are celebrating their ‘Back-2-Back’ Junior Varsity Championship title, which started with Anthony Feala last year and carried on by freshman quarterback, Jr. Tanielu, rated the No.1 quarterback in the division.
(Tanielu led the AYFS Bears to the championship game last year, and then came back and led the AYFS Matais All-Star team, also to a championship title.)
The only loss on the Sharks JV record this year is a forfeit against the Lions in the season opener because the team failed to turn in their health documents to the Department of Health – a process that all teams must go through every year before the opening of the season.
The Sharks won that game, but the Board stepped in and issued a ruling, that it would be Samoana’s first loss of the season.
Afterwards — throughout the season — Paul Fano and the Sharks never lost a game.
Samoana, 20 - Faga’itua, 6
The Vikings played their best defensive game of the season last Thursday evening, trying to ruin Samoana’s last game of the season with a loss – an effort that was recognized by the Sharks as the Vikings could barely hold them back during the past two games.
It wasn’t until the final seconds of the opening quarter that the Vikings let up and Samoana scored the opening touchdown of the game – 51 seconds remaining in the first and Tuala Fa’atonu catches the opening touchdown pass, a 10-yard reception inside the red zone after Paul Fano carried the load towards Vikings territory.
The two point conversion, a pitch play out to Fano was stopped immediately in the backfield by Elijah Taufuiava of Faga’itua.
The Sharks had a six point lead heading into the second quarter of play.
9:22 remaining in the first half of the game, and Fano strikes again – a Vikings first down situation from their own 49-yard line, and Faga’itua quarterback Fa’asili Al-Shadai is hit hard by Fano, causing a fumble that was picked up by Fano, and returned all the way back to the end zone for Samoana’s second touchdown of the game.
Fano's 40-yard defensive touchdown reception extended the Blue Empire's lead, 12-0.
The two point conversion attempt was a quick one-handed catch by Avery Seumanutafa inside the end zone – but it was ruled ‘out of bounds’ by officials after they spotted his feet on the line.
The Sharks defensive unit led by Daniel McMoore held the fort down for the Sharks, but it wasn’t until midway into the match – 4:05 into the third quarter and the Vikings managed to punch it in for six after a first and goal at Samoana’s 5-yard line. Al-Shadai tucked and ran the football in the end zone for the Viking’s first touchdown of the game.
The two point conversion reverse play out to Jesse Toilolo was stopped immediately by Daniel McMoore behind the line of scrimmage. The Vikings were now trailing by a touchdown.
9:49 in the final quarter, and Jr. Tanielu decides to fire a long one to Seumanutafa, who secured the catch and stormed into the end zone for six. But wait, it was called back after a holding penalty was spotted at midfield. The 64-yard reception didn't count.
With 5:53 remaining in the game, Tanielu again finds Seumanutafa — this time in the red zone for a one handed catch. This spotted the Sharks another first down situation from Faga’itua’s 1-yard line.
From there, Tanielu opts to send Fano straight up the middle with their third touchdown of the game, extending the lead, 18-6.
The Sharks two point attempt saw Tanielu rolling out to his left to find Fitu Amata on a slant route to secure the win and a back-2-back championship title.
Faga'itua, 30 - Samoana, 14
Head Coach Pati Pati made a gutsy call during their opening offensive possession of the game, when the Sharks were pinned in a field goal situation inside their red zone.
The field goal by Elliot Lelei was good, but the call by Pati was to deny their three-point field goal and try for six on another first down situation after a penalty was called on Faga’itua.
Anthony Feala fired a quick slant pass to Zephaniah Pati, who caught and secured the 5-yard touchdown attempt for the Sharks at 7:43 into the opening quarter of the game.
The field goal conversion was good and put them in the lead 7-0.
Meanwhile, the Vikings defensive squad was slowly adjusting to Samoana’s Run-N-Gun rhythm. Faga’itua decided they were ready for six with just 17 seconds remaining in the opening quarter — Vito Kitiona sent John Doe straight up the middle with a 5-yard reception for the opening touchdown of the game.
The two point conversion was a fake field goal and the pass out to Georgia Mageo gave them an 8-point lead early.
In the second quarter, Samoana’s special teams gave up six, after Elliot Lelei kicked a long punt as they were pinned deep in their own territory in a fourth and long situation.
The ball bounced on to midfield when Aroni Taua’a picked it up and stormed towards the end zone for six. Not one Samoana player touched him on the way back to scoring on a 44-yard touchdown. They thought the play was dead but no whistle was ever heard, meaning it was a live ball.
The two point attempt was good after DJ Grey muscled his way up the middle, carrying some Sharks with him, on his way to crossing the goal line and extending their lead 16-0.
7:22 into the second quarter, and Kitiona who carried the Vikings into the red zone, opted to go with John Doe again straight up the middle for his second touchdown of the game. The two point attempt, a quick play action pass to #47, was good and gave them a 24-7 lead.
Opening up the second half was a kick off return by Taua’a, a 99-yard reception that was called back to the spot of the foul after an illegal block in the back penalty was called against the Vikings during the return, an unfortunate special teams play for the Vikes that would’ve put them in a situation for six.
1:21 remaining in the third quarter, and Advent Migi makes his presence known – Vikings second down from Samoana’s 32-yard line, and Kitiona sends Migi up the middle with a draw hand off that Migi turned up for six, after breaking a tackle and evading two defenders on his way to scoring on a 30-yard reception for the Vikings. This extended their lead 30-7.
37 seconds remaining in the ball game, and Samoana was on a desperate drive to the end zone – after some bruising carries by David Mikaele and Paul Fano (who was moved up to play varsity on Saturday) Anthony Feala opted to fire a quick slant pass to his slot receiver, John Ugaitafa, another Samoana JV player who was moved up this Saturday — scoring the Blue Empire’s second and final touchdown of the game.
The field goal attempt by Lelei was good, but not good enough to bring them back, as the Vikings sailed back to the east with another victory, 30-14.