First 'Battle of the Toas'

tony@samoanews.com
Tafuna slays the Vikings in both divisions - varsity and JV

The American Samoa High School Athletics Association (ASHSAA) 2017-18 football season officially opened last Saturday with a bang: The 'Battle of the Toas' between Tafuna and Faga'itua, and the 'Clash of the Titans' between Samoana and Leone.

It was a day filled with football action, as parents and supporters came out to cheer for their favorite team.

This year's coverage of ASHSAA football is proudly sponsored by Congresswoman Aumua Amata.

Saturday's agenda kicked off with the long awaited showdown between the Warriors and Vikings, who played each other during the championship game last year, with the Vikings taking home the title for the third straight year.

But a win for the Vikings this time was not to be, as the Warriors, led by head coach Kolose Ili, left the field victorious in both divisions.

VARSITY GAME (Tafuna 42, Faga’itua 34)

The Warriors had a hard time in the opening moments against Faga’itua’s defensive unit, as they managed to plug up the gaps and contain the outside pursuit by Tala Sufia and the Tafuna’s offense.

It wasn’t until 7:33 in the first quarter that Tala Sufia sent Fetu Gaoa straight up the middle with the two-yard touchdown, that netted the first six points of the game. The extra point conversion - a reverse handoff to Paea Latu - was good enough to secure an eight-point lead.

To open up the Vikings offensive series, Faga’itua’s second down from their own 42-yard line saw Vito Kitiona looking for an open receiver.

But he couldn’t find one. So he kept the ball himself and fumbled it on the line of scrimmage.

The fumble was picked up by Warriors #43 and taken all the way to the end zone for Tafuna’s first defensive touchdown of the game.

Not too long after that, with 6:06 remaining in the opening quarter, Tafuna’s Tala Sufia fired a long pass out to Paea Latu for their third touchdown of the game, extending the lead to 20 points.

Suddenly, a shift of momentum was picked up by the Vikings when they had possession coming back – led by Vito Kitiona and his power backs.

The Vikings were able to march their way into Tafuna’s red zone, where Kitiona called a quarterback sneak that opened up the door for the Vikings, who scored their first touchdown of the game, thanks to Kitiona's 2-yard quarterback keep.

The extra point conversion was good and brought the East Side Pride within 12 points, 8-20.

With 5:12 remaining in the opening quarter, Tala Sufia flipped the script when he turned to his workhorse Panapa Filoiali’i on a hand off – a simple running play that Filoiali’i turned into a 70-yard touchdown run, extending the Warriors lead into the second quarter of play.

With just seconds remaining in the quarter, Tafuna once again made an appearance in the end zone – a Warriors first down inside Faga’itua’s red zone - and Fetu Gaoa managed to score his second touchdown of the game on a hand off. The extra point conversion was good and the Warriors were now leading 34-8.

Minutes before the end of the first half, Faga’itua’s Vito Kitiona led the Vikings into Tafuna territory and forced one in for six, another quarterback keep for a Faga’itua touchdown that brought them closer with 14-34.

Faga’itua’s Pitonu’uuta Ah-Sue opened up the second half of play with two amazing runs for six points for the Vikings. It was a visual comeback in the making that shocked the Warrior Nation in the second half of the game as the Vikings now trailed 28-34.

Later on in the match, the Vikings managed to catch Tafuna’s corner asleep, when Kitiona turned to air out a quick pass to Aroni Taua’a who capitalized on it and scored the tying touchdown of the game.

The score was now 34-34 in the final quarter.

Just before the Vikings could carry out another one of their famous comebacks, Pulenu’u Fono of the Warriors sealed the deal after catching a long pass from Tala Sufia, giving Tafuna their first win of the season.

JUNIOR VARSITY (Tafuna 24, Faga’itua 14)

The match up started with a defensive recovery from Tafuna, when the Vikings fumbled the ball deep in their own territory.

Warriors #75 defensive front recovered the ball inside the Vikings red zone and it was then that Francisco Mauigoa sent the Samurai, Koison Ozu up the middle for the opening touchdown of the game.

Their two-point conversion was good enough to secure an 8-point lead.

Later on in the quarter, Tafuna managed to find more opportunities in the running game as Mauigoa fed the ball to his different backs – leading up to a quarterback keep for his first touchdown of the game, thus extending Tafuna’s lead to 16-0 after a two-point conversion by Ozu.

It wasn’t until the final quarter of the game that the Vikings really got things going.

Their first down was at Tafuna’s one-yard line and a quarterback keep by Heini Ta’ase put the Vikings on the board for the first time in the game.

With 1:57 remaining in the ball game, Francisco Mauigoa hooked up with his receiver (#7) for another Tafuna touchdown, a five-yard pass that extended their lead to 24-6.

Just when Tafuna thought it was over, the Vikings proved that they’ll compete to the last second of the game, when Jessie Toilolo carried the Vikings inside Tafuna territory.

Ta’ase hooked up with receiver Manuita Sofeni for the final touchdown of the game. Their two-point conversion was good, but wasn’t good enough to win the game as the Warriors went home victorious with a final score of 24-14.

See tomorrow's issue for details on the Sharks vs. Lions matchup.

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