JPS Leone Lions are the 2018 Junior Prep Sports Football Champions
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Junior Prep Sports (JPS) third annual Football Season came to a close this past Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, with two Championship title matches hosted by the league to determine the best of the best in both the Division I and Division II competition.
During the closing ceremony, the JPS Football League President Lydia Faleafine Nomura emphasized to the players of the league that to stay active in sports and to always focus on their academics.
She noted, “Sports has the power to change the world, it has the power to inspire out youth. It has the power to unite people in a way that is little and is more than anything else. It speaks to you young people, for some reason the force to brings you guys together and makes men out of you, and the young lady for the Vikings — I have to applaud her.”
She continued, “We’ve been here for three years and every year the commissioner and the committee and I have tried to make improvements. The first year we had D1 players and teams, the second year we added on D2 to combine with the D1. The third year we wanted to focus on your academics because we believe that you cannot play sports in college if you do not strive first in your academics.
“We’ve had our challenges. Our challenges with our parents, our supporters, some who don’t care to believe in our principles, values, but know that we the committee does this only for the benefit of only you young men and lady.”
Madame-President concluded, “I think this is the year that we’ve had more parents come out and cheer and support our young kids. But most of all, I really want to thank our coaches. Our coaches worked very hard — they started in February and they don’t complain, these little envelopes we’ve given them doesn’t measure up to the time and commitment they have and they only reason that they do this, is because truly, they love the game and they love you guys.”
DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIP
JPS LIONS 19 vs. JPS VIKINGS 6
The opening quarter of the match up was a defensive showdown for both teams. The Vikings started off with some hard running plays, but were stopped short of a first down at midfield with the Lions defensive front putting the pressure on their quarterback, causing a turnover that would give the Lions an opportunity for six.
6:17 into the opening quarter of the match, and the Lions offense led by Okland Salave’a managed to score on their first offensive play of the game – but was called back due to a holding penalty at the line of scrimmage. It was an option quarterback keeper for the Lions, as Salave’a saw the Vikings outside linebacker pinching inside to take out their running back, and Salave’a pulled the football out at the last second and took off with it downfield for a 39-yard reception to the end zone that was unfortunately called back.
The Vikings who’ve seen the threatening option game from Salave’a were not able to stop him, with the Lions offense switching it up from inside hand off to quarterback keeper to finally scoring their opening touchdown of the game.
Just after a huge penalty call against the Vikings for illegal use of the helmet, it gave the Lions a huge opportunity inside Vikings territory – 2:16 remaining in the second quarter, and the Lions who were playing a first down on the Vikings 10-yard line, and Salave’a again with the quarterback keep managed to escape towards the sidelines and score the Lions first touchdown of the game.
Their special play for the two-point attempt was stopped up in the backfield with the Vikings defense all over that one — the Lions led by 6.
3:45 in the third quarter of action, and Salave’a managed to punch in another six points for the Lion on another option quarterback keeper that was just a nightmare for the Vikings as the Lions extended their lead to 12 - 0.
It wasn’t until the final quarter of play that the Big Red Machine finally answered back after some bruising running plays in the hands of Joseph Umu.
6:45 in the fourth and the Vikings were already threatening inside the red zone. Vikings third and goal on the Lions 3 yard line and Umu was able to muscle his way into the end zone for the Vikings first touchdown of the game.
Their two point attempt was a reverse hand off to Umu who stormed towards the sidelines to try and cross the plain, he managed to cross the football pass the goal line, but the sideline official declined the two-point attempt and said his foot was out of bounds before the football crossed the goal line.
The Lions played all the way down to the final minute of the match, and made sure that they’d seal the deal for this years title.
1:49 remaining in the final quarter of the match, and the Lions who were playing a second down and long from the Vikings 15 yard line were able to punch it in for six when Salave’a stormed towards the sidelines and crossed the goal line for his third touchdown of the game on the option quarterback keeper – the same play he scored his first two touchdown of the game as he stuck with it to scoring his third TD of the day.
Their field goal conversion saw Okland Salave’a setting up to kick the ball that went straight down the goal posts – showing off his many talents, Salave’a led the Lions over the Vikings with a 19 - 6 victory to claiming the 2018 JPS Division I Championship title.
DIVISION II CHAMPIONSHIP
JPS LIONS 6 vs. JPS WILDCATS 0
The Wildcats defense showed up big time in their final match of the year, as they shut out the Lions offense ‘completely’ throughout the who game, to a no show inside the end zone. On the other side of the field, the Lions defense as well showed a very brutal defensive stand that prevented the Wildcats from scoring all day.
The only touchdown in this match came by way of special teams. With just 3 seconds remaining in the opening quarter of the match, and the Wildcats were set up to punt the ball over to the Lions.
A high punt that was received and returned by Tolufale Fiaui turned out big for the Lions and Fiaui turned it up field ‘untouched’ on his way to the end zone to scoring the first and only touchdown of the match.
Fiaui was able to lead the Lions to a ‘Back-2-Back’ Championship title with that attempt, as this match was nearly scoreless with the strong defensive front of both teams.