Samaoana Sharks head to the big dance to represent the east side
The Blue Empire has not experienced the action of a championship game since their title win back in 2009 against the Warriors; and they're back with a vengeance — to win it. They will face the Warrior Nation, often seen at the big dance, and who are led by head coach Kolose Ili and school principal Tutuila Togilau.
Coverage of the 2017-18 ASHSAA high school football games is sponsored by Congresswoman Aumua Amata.
Faga'itua head coach Suaese Pooch Taase and his Vikings came in to Saturday's playoff game as the defending champs. But Samoana was not intimidated, as they defeated the Vikes 19-16 to seal the deal and earn them a spot in this Saturday's championship match.
Hundreds came out to witness the playoff game, and there was a noticeable heavy presence of cops from the Dept. of Public Safety, who manned all corners of the stadium.
It was Samoana’s Defensive Coordinator (DC) coach Nofo who impacted the Sharks comeback against the Vikings last Saturday.
"Offense wins games, but defense wins championships" is the saying that Samoana’s Big ‘D’ is proving to be very true, as the Sharks defensive unit has anchored the team's way throughout the season.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Sharks offensive unit— who barely clicked together in their Senior Game against Faga’itua two weeks ago — was firing on all cylinders of their running game, with Moses Michael Samia back in action to lead the way for their powerhouse running attack, that balanced out Anthony Feala’s passing game in their victory.
Defensive Coordinator Meafou Sagapolutele of the Vikings led a good defensive stop for Faga’itua, but Samoana’s OC Galo Tuiolosega had a good set of tricks up his sleeve which helped the Sharks offense in their ’No Huddle’ attack against the Vikes, giving them a taste of their own medicine.
VARSITY DIVISION PLAYOFF GAME
SAMOANA 19, FAGA'ITUA 16
The Eastern Star had full control of this one from the start, as they managed to pull strings in their ground game to hold a comfortable lead in the opening quarter of the game.
5:18 in the first quarter, Faga’itua’s second and goal from the Sharks 5-yard line, and Vito Kitiona pitched the ball out to Aroni Taua’a who turned on his boosters and raced towards the corner of the end zone to score the opening touchdown of the game.
The two point conversion was an option quarterback keeper by Kitiona to secure the eight point lead early in the match.
4:11 in the first quarter and Samoana finds an open shot to the end zone, after Faga’itua was penalized with lining up offsides – three straight times. Samoana was in a first down situation on Faga’itua’s 5-yard line and from there Feala handed the ball off to Kalisi Lotulelei who rammed his way straight up the middle to score the Blue Empire’s first touchdown of the game.
Samoana’s field goal unit stayed on the sidelines, as head coach Pati Pati wanted to even things out, and opted to go for two.
The two point attempt was another inside hand off to Lotulelei that was good enough to tie the game at 8 a piece.
7:51 in the second quarter, and the Vikings find themselves in good field position again, which came by way of a pass interference penalty against Samoana. This moved Faga’itua up to Samoana’s 10-yard line and from there, Kitiona fired a solid bullet to the numbers of Jacob Umu for the Vikings second touchdown of the game.
The two point attempt was another option quarterback keeper by Kitiona to secure a 16 point lead heading into half time.
Both teams brought out the best in each other, specifically in their defensive game to open up the third quarter of play.
The Vikings, known to be the second half team of the league, were totally shut down by the Sharks defense throughout the second half of play, as the Vikings running game was all plugged up.
Samoana adjusted to having David Mikaele back in his original middle linebacker position, and the Sharks opted to field their best players in an effort to shut out the Vikings completely - which they did.
There really was no action until the final second of the third quarter.
One second remaining in the third, and Samoana was at the Vikings 15-yard line with a fourth and goal situation. The Sharks brought in Elliot Lelei to kick off the field goal conversion that was good enough to bring them within five points, 11-16.
The most crucial play of the game came with just 3:57 remaining in the ball game.
The Sharks were in a desperate fourth and two situation for a first down opportunity, at Faga’itua’s 5-yard line. This was when Anthony Feala sent Moses Michael Samia straight up the middle, where he was apprehended at the line of scrimmage; but Samia spun out of a tackle and spotted a first and goal situation for the Sharks inside the five-yard line.
3:44 remaining in the ball game, and Anthony Feala snuck behind his linemen on a quarterback sneak for another Samoana touchdown. Feala was penalized after the play for unsportsmanlike conduct. The call by head official Fritz Afu was: “The touchdown is good, and the penalty will be assessed during the kick off."
Samoana’s extra point attempt saw the field goal unit again on the sidelines, as Coach Pati opted to go for two. On the snap, Feala sent Kalisi Lotulelei straight up the middle to secure a 19-16 lead.
With three minutes remaining in the game, the Vikings option game began to unveil but it wouldn’t quite open up, as the Sharks defense picked off Kitiona for a sure ball game. Faga’itua’s second and long from their own 45-yard line and Kitiona fires a long pass to Jacob Umu. The pass was intercepted by Paul Fano, bringing the Sharks offense back on to the field to go into victory formation and run out the clock.
With the win, the Sharks are now preparing to play the Warriors in the 2017-18 ASHSAA championship game set for this Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Stadium.
At the conclusion of the game, Samoa News noticed on Facebook that players and coaches from both teams were acknowledging each other on a match well played, and a well deserved win for Samoana, as the east side prepares to support the Blue Empire in the upcoming title game against head coach Kolose Ili and the Warrior Nation.
The Warriors first defeat of the 2017- 18 ASHSAA Football season came at the hands of Sharks in Week 8 of regular season. It was a ‘close’ game — a one point win by the Sharks 16- 15.
It is believed that the Warriors’ injuries from their previous match ups took a toll on them, for the game, as the team wasn't able to field two of their star players, Panapa Filoiali’i and Fetu Gaoa during this game.
However, the Warriors have been on a two-week bye — which included waiting out the result of last Saturday’s playoff game. The two injured players are said to be ready for the ‘big dance’ with the Eastside this coming Saturday.