Benson Mauga
Body of Christ, let us remember our neighbor nation HAITI in our Prayers. Also our troops deployments and still in harms way. Our God is a God of second chances. "...His compassion fail not. They are new every morning great is your faithfulness... (Lamentations 3:22-23) Let's make the most of it!

Samoan Athletes - Heart of Champions


Laulauga Tausaga sets Discus Mark

There is something about the Grossmont Valley League championships that brings out the best in Mount Miguel’s Laulauga Tausaga.

A year ago, as a junior, she hit 156 feet, 7 inches in the discus, good for the third-best performance in San Diego Section history.

As a senior, she did even better Wednesday when she sent the discus flying 167-3, eclipsing the section record by more than five feet.

It was 30 years ago — in 1986 — that Ramona’s Lori Parker set the previous standard, reaching 162 feet in a stirring battle with San Diego Southwest’s Tracy Crawford, who topped out at 156-2.

That record stood against all challenges, the most serious in 2011 when West Hills’ Alexa Evans moved to No. 2 on the all-time list at 158-3.

Still, you sensed that all it would take is a little competition and some friendly wind, which Tausaga got competing on her home ring.

Tausaga, who set the section shot put record last year at 48-3½, inched ever closer to that mark as well with a season-best 47-2¼ at the Grossmont Valley League championships to retake the section season lead.

She moves on to the section prelims on May 21 at Mt. Carmel.


NCAA to permit FBS programs to pay for parents to accompany recruits on visits

SNU Sweeps Oklahoma Baptist - Syndi Toilolo hits 11th Homer

Southern Nazarene moved to .500  mark on the year for the first time since Feb. 19 as it picked up a doubleheader sweep of Oklahoma Baptist.
The Crimson Storm (24-24, 15-21 GAC) scored a 2-0 shutout in the first game before taking the second one 7-1.
Southern Nazarene jumped out front in the bottom of the third on a double to left by Logan Sundbye to score Sam Smith. SNU added another in the bottom of the sixth when Sydni Toilolo hit her 11thhome run of the year with a shot to left center to give SNU a 2-0 lead.
That was all Crimson Storm starter Kayla Wyatt needed as she gave up just two hits and struck out 12 in her fourth complete game shutout of the year.
Hope Martin led the way as she went 2-for-3.
SNU opened the nightcap with three runs in the bottom of the first as two came in on bases-loaded walks and the other came in on a bases-loaded hit by pitch. The Bison scored their first run of the day in the top of the fourth, but the Storm scored three more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. The first came on a Jessica Thompson single up the middle before Kyndall Freer-Christopher singled to center to drive in the final two runs of the night.
Wyatt picked up her fifth straight win to move to 16-10 on the year.
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Washington Redskins 2016 Draft Profiles: Ian Seau, EDGE

Ian Seau is the nephew of late HOF player and NFL legend Junior Seau. Ian Seau is not Junior Seau. Now that that's out of the way Ian Seau is a pretty good pass rusher and isn't getting the buzz I think he deserves. Ian has a track record of ascending production during his career at Nevada which is what you always want to see. He played both DE and OLB during his college career and has had success rushing the passer at both positions. He's also played strong and weakside outside linebacker and has had success. Ian has good initial quickness often speeding past tackles and collapsing the pocket. If he isn't getting a sack he's disrupting the play creating pressure and disrupting the throw. He has a relentless motor which helps make up for his lack of elite athletic traits and size and that has helped him produced on the football field.

He is also a very smart player and knows there is more than one way to skin a cat. He varies his pass rushing moves to get home and incorporates a bull rush, spin, rip, and swim move. Playing with good instincts he can also peek into the backfield and disrupt runs and read option plays. 

Ian has a hall of fame name but should be allowed to carve out his own path free of comparison during his NFL career. He played in a more obscure FBS conference but dominated. His frame is pretty filled out already and he needs to improve playing the run, getting free when playing in the trash, and prove he can play against higher level competition. He is viewed as a 3-4 OLB / pass rushing specialist at the next level.


  • Has the play speed, athleticism, and flexibility to turn the edge and collapse the pocket both standing up and with his hand in the dirt.
  • Plays with active hands and good technique – deploys multiple pass rushing moves to beat offensive tackles and get home.
  • When he gets home he finishes with toughness and attitude.
  • Plays with excellent effort and without abandon or hesitation he will launch himself into the chest or back of a QB to get him down.


  • Gets lost in the scrum when playing the run sometimes.
  • His frame is close to maxed out and he is limited to player OLB in the NFL.
  • This is nitpicking but Seau could improve functional strength a bit. Ideally, you'd like him to win with both his strength and quickness and even occasionally put an OT on their butt.
  • Wasn't asked to drop back in coverage much further limiting him to a situational pass rushing role.
Oregon State LB Rommel Mageo transferring to Ole Miss, can play immediately

A Rebel team in desperate need of linebacker help for 2016 just landed a graduate transfer who will probably be the Day 1 starter.

Well hot damn, Ole Miss might have just picked up a starting linebacker for 2016. Rommel Mageo, a graduate transfer who led Oregon State in tackles last season, announced via Twitter that he's joining the Rebels. He'll be immediately eligible to play and, according to Ole Miss Spirit's Chuck Rounsaville, will join the team in June.

There's no way to overstate how huge this is for an Ole Miss defense in desperate straights at the linebacker position as it opens spring practice. Not only did Dave Wommack's D lose C.J. Johnson, Denzel Nkemdiche and Christian Russell from last year's team, it missed on five-star Mique Juarez and JUCO David Luafatasaga on Signing Day. Outside of last year's leading tackler, DeMarquis Gates, the rest of the guys on scholarship are either inexperienced youngsters or JUCO transfers who are still swimming.

Mageo, who started eight games and piled up 87 tackles, two sacks and two picks, brings experience, size and play-making ability to a group that desperately needs all of the above.

He fits in because he plays linebacker, has two legs and two arms and is 6'2, 233-pounds. The American Samoa native was a force in the Pac-12 during his career, collecting 157 tackles in 36 games as a Beaver. Mageo has a really good chance to start in the middle for the Landsharks, which would allow Gates to stay in his natural outside linebacker spot and give young pups like Ray Ray Smith and Shawn Curtis time to learn the playbook.

Why is he transferring? From a quick perusing of the internet, it doesn't appear that there's any baggage here (not that we care -- come get some heppin', young fella!"). Mageo's decision may have something to do with his team going 2-10 and finishing 109th in defensive S&P+. If he's earned his degree and would like to do some winning while he's in college, why not head over to Oxford?

Here's an excerpt from SB Nation's Oregon State blog written after the 2015 season:

This kid has a non-stop, fast-running motor, and incredible instincts at the linebacker position. I just wish he wasn't going to be a senior! Mageo led the team in tackles, interceptions, sacks, and forced fumbles. He was also second in passes defended. Look for him to be the heart and soul of the defense next year.


Football’s Polynesian moment: Samoan Athletes are paying a steep price for their commitment to the game

On Jan. 30, the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honored five men as its third class of inductees. Troy Polamalu, the recently retired Pittsburgh Steeler with the incandescent smile and wild hair, will attract the most attention. He’s the only inductee well known outside of small circles of fans. But each of these men—Alopati “Al” Lolotai, Charley Ane, Rocky Freitas, Vai Sikahema and Polamalu—embodies the intimate, if painful, connection between football and Polynesian culture.

Football has reached a crossroads, its future imperiled by the very physicality driving its popularity. The number of boys playing Pop Warner and high school ball plunged over the last decade as the neurological, physical and fiscal costs of the game became more troubling. That’s on top of the already severe decline in the game’s scholastic ranks in the Rust Belt—football’s original heartland—during the 1980s and ‘90s.

But one group has bucked that trend—Polynesians, especially Samoans in American Samoa, Hawaii, California and Utah, as well as in pockets of Texas and the Pacific Northwest. American Samoa is the only place outside the United States where football has taken hold at the grass roots, the only one that sends its native sons to the NFL. In just a few decades, the sons of Samoa and Tonga, mostly young men who came of age in the States, have quietly become the most disproportionately over-represented demographic in college and professional football. 

Football has become the story Samoans tell about themselves to the world. But the narrative has grown bittersweet. While creating a stunning micro-culture of sporting excellence, these athletic outliers are paying a steep price for their commitment to the game. Sadly, that which makes them so good at football—their extraordinary internalization of discipline and warrior self-image that drives them to play with no fefe (no fear)—also makes them especially vulnerable. Nobody lived and died that irony more than Junior Seau, who became the first Samoan in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a 20-season NFL career in which, inexplicably, he was never diagnosed with a concussion. Not long after retiring, Seau shot himself in the chest, unable to live with the demons of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the tragic downside of playing with no fefe.

The five inductees have seen more clearly than most what football gives to those who play it and what it takes from them. They span the 80 seasons since Al Lolotai became the first Samoan to enter the NFL in the wake of World War II. Charley Ane, the second Samoan in the NFL, surpassed Lolotai on the field, earning two championship rings with the Detroit Lions. Rockne “Rocky” Freitas, a native Hawaiian who starred at every level of the game before returning home, became an educator, most recently as the chancellor of the West Oahu campus of the University of Hawaii. Vai Sikahema, born in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga, became the kingdom’s first NFL player. He played for Brigham Young University’s 1984 championship team and forged a Pro Bowl career before becoming a journalist in Philadelphia and a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Troy Polamalu, the 2010 NFL defensive player of the year and two-time Super Bowl champion, will almost certainly join Junior Seau in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.  Over the last four years, Polamalu and his wife, Theodora, have taken hundreds of coaches, educators and medical personnel to American Samoa, where their Faʻa Samoa Initiative works with youth to build social capital by imparting life skills to help in the classroom and workplace as much as on the ball field.  

Paladins of a culture of sport in which community meant more than money, these men mattered as much after they stopped playing as during their athletic prime.  While each excelled on the field, what sets them apart from most athletes was their life-long sense of tautua, what Samoans call service.  Each gave back as much as he got from the highly competitive culture that provided the drive to succeed. That commitment brought Al Lolotai back to American Samoa in the late 1960s, and will bring Polamalu there for years to come.

Born in what was then German Western Samoa, Al Lolotai moved to American Samoa and then to Laʻie on the north shore of Oahu, where the Mormons built a temple early last century as a gathering spot for converts from the South Pacific. Lolotai joined the Washington Redskins after World War II. Though owner George Preston Marshall long resisted playing African-Americans, the dark-skinned Lolotai apparently did not affront his or Washington fans’ racial sensibilities. Lolotai gained greater notoriety as a wrestler after leaving football. Performing as Sweet Leilani, he won multiple championships, the last when he was 58. His nephew Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson would also play football and wrestle before becoming one of Hollywood’s more bankable actors. Lolotai’s most enduring legacy came when he returned to direct health education and sport in American Samoa’s schools in the late 1960s. “He started our sports programs out of nothing,” Tufele Liʻamatua, the director of Samoan affairs, told me in 2011, shortly before his death. “He helped bring football to our island.”

Honolulu-born Charley Ane, whose father was recruited to Hawaii to play industrial league baseball, became the first Samoan at the Punahou School. There, at USC, and with the Detroit Lions, Ane was the archetypal Samoan, the quintessential teammate who brought the locker room together. In Detroit, Ane’s blocking gave quarterback Bobby Layne time to do what he did best—improvise like a jazz musician. Detroit made it to the NFL championship game three times in Ane’s first five years and won twice. Teammates voted him their captain for the 1958 and 1959 seasons. And when his playing days were over, Ane gave back as a coach at five high schools. Freitas and Sikahema came later, but like Lolotai and Ane, remained rooted in community and service.

Junior Seau’s selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer and Marcus Mariotta’s Heisman Trophy honors a few months before—both firsts for Samoans—herald a growing wave of Polynesian talent. They are the descendants of a people who resisted conquest and colonization, but embraced Christianity in the 1800s and the U.S. military during World War II. The confluence of religion, military discipline and Faʻa Samoa (in the way of Samoa) created a football culture that coaches cherish.  

Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent the last years of his life in Western Samoa, once called Samoans “god’s best, at least, god’s sweetest works.” The more I know about these men and their back stories, the more I realize why Stevenson fell in love with Polynesians and their culture. 

But there’s a cost to this devotion to football, to playing with no fefe. Samoan boys, who train year-round on fields blistered with volcanic pebbles and use helmets that should have been discarded long ago, incur far too much neurological damage. They have a difficult time adjusting to college and maximizing the benefit of an athletic scholarship.  More important, this micro-culture of football excellence coexists with a public health crisis. Samoans and Tongans are among the most diabetic and obese people on the planet, the consequence of forsaking a traditional diet for cheap and fast food.  

Polynesians and youth from other disadvantaged communities may be the salvation of America’s most successful sporting enterprise at a time when the sons of better-off families are deserting the game. But the five men to be inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame this month tell a much deeper and meaningful story of sport and community.

WSU Cougars’ Destiny Vaeao has a big game in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Seattle Times staff reporterWashington State defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao is considered an intriguing prospect with a lot of upside in this year’s NFL draft, and Vaeao (6-foot-4, 298 pounds) likely upped his draft stock considerably after his performance in Saturday’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

The Cougars’ defensive tackle broke away from a double team and forced former Utah quarterback Travis Wilson to fumble. The National team capitalized on the turnover when Missouri’s Andrew Baguette kicked 23-yard a go-ahead field goal.

As CBS Sports Draft Analyst Rob Rang told The Seattle Times last week, Vaeao’s potential and sheer power are his greatest assets, and he’ll likely be a mid-round draft pick this spring.


Q&A with former NFL linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa on Polynesian Bowl, impact of Seau and more

The Polynesian All-American Bowl is Saturday in Oceanside, Calif., featuring many of the nation’s top high school football seniors of Polynesian descent.

The site is no accident: Oceanside is the home of former linebacker Junior Seau, the first Pro Football Hall of Famer of Polynesian descent. There are more than 70 Polynesian players currently in the NFL.

“Junior did it for all of Oceanside, all the Samoans, all the Prop 48 kids. It means more when you play for something bigger than yourself,” said Pisa Tinoisamoa, a former NFL linebacker who was born in Oceanside who is coaching Team Black. Former NFL running back Reno Mahe is coaching Team White.

Tinoisamoa played college football at Hawaii and was a second-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2003. He led the Rams in tackles in his first three seasons and spent six years with the Rams before finishing his career with the Chicago Bears.

Tinoisamoa spoke with USA TODAY High School Sports about the Polynesian All-American Bowl, the bond among players of Polynesian descent and the influence that Seau had on him.

Q: You were an assistant coach last year to Kevin Mawae, who is giving the keynote speed Thursday. What made you decide to come back?

A: Last year was my first year and I got a little taste of it. I was feeling it out and trying to see how I could fit into something like this. Being that the game is home – I was born and raised in Oceanside – the way the game of football has influenced me and being Polynesian, it seemed like an easy call. I’ve been around little kids and been around professional players, but coaching high school is a whole other thing. I’ve been coaching now as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for two years officially at Tri-City Christian in Vista and then coming to an all-star game, that level has been my calling. I feel like that’s where I was most influenced. All of that combined made for a perfect storm.

Q: Why did you decide to get into coaching after your NFL career?

A: It’s not something that I thought I would do when I was younger. When I was done playing, I thought what do I do with all this knowledge that I gathered. It was a natural move to go into coaching.

Q: This event is more than just football and cultural development for the players is a big part of the experience. Why is that so important?

A: I think culturally Polynesian means many races and many islands. For me, I try to distinguish myself as Samoan. I’m Samoan. Troy Polamalu is Samoan. Haloti Ngata is Tongan, Kevin Mawae is Hawaiian. There are little nuances in each background. At the end of the day, we all have a common respect, not only for our elders and people who came before us, but family. I think all of that blends together when we get together. We’re all Polynesian.

We’re all trying to get better not only one the field, but off the field. Off the field what we’re trying to do with Polynesian bowl, we want to show them some of the pitfalls and things to be aware of going on to college. That’s not only in the classroom, but in the public as well. I think people of the same descent, it’s easier to talk to these kids to try to relate to them. We want them to understand about keeping the tradition and culture alive with everybody, not just each other. I want people to say, ‘I know a Polynesian and they’re super cool.’ We want to try to keep that reputation going.

Q: With this game being in Oceanside where Junior Seau grew up and you being from the area and also playing inside linebacker in the NFL, what was his influence on you?

A: Junior was about 12 years older than I me. I felt like it was the right place at the right time for me. I was too young to go to his games in high school, but with him going out to USC and then staying in San Diego and playing for the Chargers, watching him made it seem more realistic. A lot of guys have aspirations of making it to the highest level. Seeing Junior really solidified it for me that it could be done. It became more tangible.

It almost made me feel like I had to carry the torch because Junior couldn’t do it forever. That helped propel me to keep going even when things looked like it wasn’t going to work out for me. You think no one from Oceanside can make it to the NFL. And then Junior does it. It was like, ‘Oh man, this can be done.’ I’m not the biggest guy but have huge heart and that’s something that you can’t measure.

Q: Last year Manti Te’o from the Chargers just stopped by and was on the sideline. A number of other NFL players are coming in from the game. What brings them to be there?

A: That was always one of the cool things. Even when I played in St Louis and I’d see another Polynesian, it was like, ‘Hey what’s up?’ We’re a small number of people. When we see each other there is an automatic (bond). I’d always gotten props from other guys in the league who would say, ‘One thing I like about you guys is when you see each other, you always give each other love.’ That togetherness — it’s something that happened before me, but it’s good to see it still exists. For Manti, he didn’t have to. But coming down here, the kids were running up and talking selfies and putting them up on The Gram. These kids will remember that for a long time. It’s pretty cool to see, brothers and cousins and friends and family come and support it. It’s awesome.

Q: Coaching in an all-star game situation is a different kind of thing. What’s your approach going to be with only a few days of practice?

A: From a coaching standpoint, I was fortunate to work with some guys this year that I’m close with and that I respected and I started with them. They came on board. I feel like if we as coaches get along, everything else will fall in place: discipline, execution, practice and organization. I know it’s hard at an all-star game because you have to learn a new system and a new lingo. If we can get the coaches on the same page and they are talking to the kids and everyone is speaking the same language, I hope that will translate into a W.

Q: Sounds as if you and former NFL running back Reno Mahe, who is coaching the other team, spent some time in determining the right way to set up the rosters too. How did you do it?

A: We did a draft of sorts. We got the kids’ Hudl accounts and saw some kids we liked and targeted them according to what we ideally we wanted to run in terms of a system. That was one of the big things and was a big plus. It can get sloppy with so little practice time I don’t want that experience for those kids. I feel bad if they go to practice and it’s not structured right. We wanted everything on point.

If we want to get the name out there that the Polynesian bowl is a legit bowl, then you have to run it like a legit bowl. We’re not saying we’re Army or Under Armour or Semper Fi. We want to show that we can that we can perform and put on a great bowl for the right reasons.

Senior DE Ian Seau was named to the All-Mountain West first team

RENO, Nev. – Senior DE Ian Seau was named to the All-Mountain West first team while seven Nevada football players in total earned All-MW accolades, the conference office announced on Tuesday.

Seau, who tied for first in the MW with 9.0 sacks, led Nevada as the lone player on the all-conference first team. Additionally, junior PK Brent Zuzo, senior DE Lenny Jones and freshman DB Dameon Baber were named to the All-MW second team while sophomore RB James Butler, sophomore OL Austin Corbett and junior TE Jarred Gipson earned honorable mention honors.

A native of Oceanside, Calif., Seau improved upon last year’s All-MW second team selection by posting 38 tackles, 15.5 TFL and 9.0 sacks to earn All-MW first team honors as a senior. Seau’s 9.0 sacks tied for first in the MW and 15th in the nation, while his 15.5 TFL ranked third in the league. Seau also forced five turnovers this  with four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Earlier this year, Seau tied a MW record with four sacks against Hawai’i.


The Best Coach You Never Talk About

By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports

Every year around this time of the college football season, we start to discuss the top coaching candidates to fill the numerous positions that open up. We’re not even at the end of the regular season and already there are 11 schools looking for their next head coach. The coaching carousel will only continue to spin as teams wrap up the regular season within the next three weeks.

Right now, the names you hear circulating for these job openings feature guys at Group of 5 schools who are having terrific seasons. Memphis’ Justin Fuente, Houston’s Tom Herman, Temple’s Matt Rhule and Bowling Green’s Dino Babers have all been linked to multiple schools looking for their next head coach. All of these coaches have been getting recognition (deservedly so) for the jobs they’ve done in turning around their programs and leading them to great starts to this season. At least one of the four will probably be coaching somewhere else next season. That’s the reality of college football, good coaches climb the ladder every chance they get.

However, there’s one coach who continues to rack up victories whose name never seems to come up when discussing the next guy to go after. That guy is Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo.

The Midshipmen are 8-1 so far this season and undefeated in American Conference play with their only loss coming at the hands of the current #4 team in Notre Dame. Their wins have all come in dominant fashion, with no game being closer than 10 points. That includes a 45-20 rout of #21 Memphis just two weeks ago. The Midshipmen are in position to play in the conference title game if they beat Houston next weekend.

Yet, for the success of this season, his name never comes up in the college coaching rumor mill. He’s been a part of the Navy program for 17 years and the head coach for eight so it’s possible that he just doesn’t want to leave. But, when has that ever stopped schools previously from contacting coaches. Texas has gone after Nick Saban multiple times, despite Saban being entrenched in the Tide program now for nine seasons.

Niumatalolo’s record at Navy speaks for itself. He’s the winning-est coach in program history with a record of 65-36. He’s had just one losing season in his tenure, the same number as Paul Johnson who was hired away from Navy by Georgia Tech. In his eight years at the helm of the program, the Midshipmen have never won less than five games, and have won eight or more in every season but one (2011). He’s 3-6 in games against Top 25 opponents, true. But, that record includes a four point loss to Ohio State in 2009 and a three point loss to South Carolina in 2011.

Is it because of the offense he runs? Navy runs a triple option style of attack that isn’t en vogue anymore at the major schools. Yet, Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech has shown that you can win with that offense, twice having won 11 games with the Yellow Jackets. The offense, while slightly antiquated, shouldn’t disqualify Niumatalolo from getting looks for jobs.

Keep in mind, that all of Niumatalolo’s success has come at a program that isn’t ever going to get the top 4 or 5-star recruits. In his eight full seasons as head coach, Niumatalolo’s highest ranked recruiting class according to was 84th back in 2010. Currently, next year’s class sits ranked at 98th. Top recruits just don’t commit to go to the service academies. That makes his consistent track record of winning all the more impressive.

Niumatalolo has shown in his time at Navy that he can get the most out of any athlete that decides to play for him. What school wouldn’t at least inquire about a guy like that?


 Ian Seau 

Ian Seau has been named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week and Brent Zuzo has been named MW Special Teams Player of the Week, the conference office announced Monday. It’s the first MW weekly honor for both student-athletes. 

Seau and Zuzo each had career performances last Saturday, leading the Wolf Pack (4-4, 2-2) to a 30-20 comeback victory over Hawai’i on Homecoming at Mackay Stadium. 

Seau – a defensive end from Oceanside, Calif. – tallied 4.0 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery to lead the Pack defense. Seau’s four sacks were just a half sack shy of a program record and Mountain West record. Seau became the ninth player in MW history to record four sacks in a game, which is tied for the FBS lead this season along with Texas A&M’s Daeshon Hall and East Carolina’s Montese Overton. 

Seau forced and recovered a fumble on his final sack of the game with 1:22 remaining, clinching a Wolf Pack victory. Seau’s four sacks totaled 30 yards as he helped Nevada limit Hawai’i to just 34 yards rushing, which is the fewest Nevada has allowed since Nov. 8, 2009. 

How Can Tiny Samoa Dominate The NFL?

When University of Washington Defensive Tackle Danny Shelton arrived for the NFL Draft in Chicago wearing traditional Samoan dress and almost choked the life out of Commissioner Goodell in an on-stage hug, it symbolized the amazing dominance that one tiny island and its’ Polynesian neighbors have in NFL football. Five Polynesian players were selected in the first 66 picks of the 2015 NFL Draft, the most ever for the first three rounds. Over 70 players in the NFL are of Polynesian descent. There are 30 players from American Samoa in the NFL and more than 200 play Division I NCAA Football. A Samoan male is 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than an American non-Samoan.

Super Bowl Champions Jesse Sapolu and Ma’a Tanuvassa along with Kevin Kaplan and his company Coaching Charities decided to pay recognition to the contributions by establishing a Polynesian Football Hall of Fame in 2013. It had its’ first group of inductees the next year including players like Junior Seau, Kevin Mawae and Jack Thompson (“The Throwing Samoan”). Earlier this year it inducted players like Jesse Sapolu and Mark Tuinei. University of Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, selected 2nd in this year’s draft was honored as the 2014 College Player of the Year. The Hall is located in the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu in Hawaii.

A pioneering group of college coaches recognized the uniqueness of Polynesia (Hawaii, Samoa,Tonga, Easter Island, and New Zealand) in the quality of football athletes it produces. Dick Vermeil, Dick Tomey, and LaVell Edwards made early trips. Former Hawaii and SMU Coach June Jones established a special relationship with Samoa and established a foundation there to help with Samoan athletics.”They have a unique culture that venerates family and work ethic” Coach Jones says.”There is an amazing spirit and feeling that one feels interacting with these warm and spiritual people.”

The tiny island of Samoa, often referred to as “Football Island” has a population of 65,000 people. This is smaller than my city of Newport Beach, a very active and athletic area that has only Matt Barkley in the NFL. How is the hyper-productivity of Samoa even possible? It starts with a culture that emphasizes community, self-discipline, respect, and spirituality. Families are close and supportive. The athletes tend to be humble, it may be the last bastion of youth outside the American South that says “Yes, Sir”. There is pride instead of jealousy for the accomplishments of other athletes. Passion for every activity is bred into young Samoans.

Physical anthropology somehow must play into the massive size and strength and speed of most of the athletes. One theory holds that the residents migrated far in the past from much colder climes and needed bodies that could add weight to protect them. Another theory is that there was a history of strife and warfare and a love of contact is part of the culture. There is poverty present in Samoa and other islands which serves as a motivating factor in using sports to advance.

The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame will continue to grow with the rising number of Polynesian players at every level. It celebrates a special culture and tradition. Tiny Samoa is an amazing anomaly in the history of sports.

WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Epenesa, Boilermakers will play at SLU tourney


The date has been circled for some time, and now Purdue University senior and former Edwardsville standout Sam Epenesa is ready to return home.

Epenesa will be with the Boilermakers when they play in the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis on Friday and Saturday. No. 24 Purdue (3-0) will battle Arkansas Pine-Bluff at 4:30 p.m. Friday, 12th-ranked BYU at noon Saturday and then host Saint Louis University at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“I’m so excited to get to come back and play at home,” Epenesa said. “My family is all coming and people from high school. It’ll be great to be in that atmosphere. There’s no place like home.”

This will be the closest Epenesa, who lives in Glen Carbon, will play during her collegiate career.

Before this weekend, the closest trips for family and friends to make were to Bloomington and Champaign.

“My little brothers are excited that I’ll be within an hour of them,” Epenesa said.

Purdue coach Dave Shondell doesn’t expect Epenesa’s emotions of playing in front of her family to alter her game.

“Wherever we go, there’s a big crowd. The Samoan nation is everywhere. I don’t care where we play, there’s going to be a dozen people that know Sam or are related to her in some capacity,” Shondell said.

In three matches this season, Epenesa, a 6-0 outside hitter, is third on the team in kills with 18. She also has a block.

More important than her statistics, though, may be her leadership. 

“We have three outside hitters that are all really good, and we play two of them on a regular basis. We had a stretch against Ohio University where Sam was hitting below zero. I felt like we needed to do something different and needed to make a change,” Shondell said. “Instead of Sam going over there and being numb, she provided exactly what you would expect a senior to provide on the bench. She was energetic, positive, talking to the player who took over for her and keeping the bench in the game. It was what we needed from her. You may not have seen that last year from her.”

It’s a role that Epenesa is still adjusting to, but one that she wants.

“It’s different from last year in a sense that we want our actions to speak for us and not necessarily come out and talk a big game,” Epenesa said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to come out and lead my teammates by example and through encouragement and hard work.”

The hard work in practice and in the weight room has shown with her ability to change her game.

As a junior, Epenesa started 20 matches, appeared in all 32, and was second on the team with 2.43 kills per set.

Shondell raved about Epenesa’s ability to put the ball away at the net and believes her numbers are going to be better this year as she continues to grow.

“I’ve almost began to label her as a shot doctor. She is really mixing up her shots and she understands for any situation what’s the best shot to take,” Shondell said. “Those are things even an year ago that we didn’t see. She has grown into being a higher IQ player. That’s going to help her as she moves into this year.”

Shondell isn’t surprised about the growth Epenesa has made with Purdue.

“Maturity has a lot to do with that. Sometimes you expect so much from young people to come into a Big Ten university. You have an academic load, social load, a transition from being away from home and on top of that in two weeks, ‘Let’s go play Big Ten volleyball.’ It just doesn’t happen that easily,” Shondell said. “Sam came from a really good club, where she was really well trained, but the game is a lot faster at this level, people are bigger and more physical. It’s an adjustment period.

“Her issue, overall, was that she was a little error-proned. She was up and down, a little inconsistent. You don’t see that with her now. She’s someone that could be on the floor all the time.”

Epenesa showed she could play all six positions at times last year. Against Michigan on Sept. 26, she had her first double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs.

Adjusting to becoming a better player around the court was necessary, especially in the Big Ten.

“If you don’t make adjustments, you’ll be somewhat of a dinosaur and won’t be playing a lot of volleyball,” Shondell said. “She’s the kind of player that doesn’t feel comfortable watching other people play. She’s a proud warrior, as I like to call her, from Samoan nation. She’s a fierce competitor. She’s at her best when we play the best competition. When we are playing Penn State or Nebraska or in the NCAA Tournament, Sam Epenesa is at her best.”

For Purdue to be at its best this season, it’s going to need Epenesa.

“The outside hitting position is such a vital position on the team. We’ve put a lot of stock in her over the last three years. It’s going to be crucial that she plays like a veteran and shows the savviness that I know she has. Her ball control on the serve receive is so much better that she’s making more plays,” Shondell said. “More than anything else, her behavior can set the tone for the young people on this  team. There are two talented young hitters that are watching everything she does. Her leadership and being a mentor is something she takes pride in.

“I’ve told all five of our seniors, ‘You think it’s hard to step into a leadership role going from a junior to senior. Just outwork them. You don’t have to tell people what to do. Just do it and lead by example.’ She does a great job at that.”

As a very proud woman, Epenesa does lead by example — even away from the court.

A hospitality and tourism management major, Epenesa worked 45 to 55 hours during the summer at a restaurant in West Lafayette, Ind., along with taking on a full load of classes and a project running a restaurant.

“Sam had a hectic summer, a crazy summer,” Shondell said. “She changed majors. Not only did she have a heavy load academically in the classroom, but she was also working in a restaurant on campus. Then she had an internship at a local restaurant where she was working from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. It was really challenging for her to accomplish what she had to academically and then put in her time with the team in weight room at 6 a.m. until 8 a.m. It was very challenging, but she did the very best that she could.

“As soon as that was over, it was like a load had been taking off her shoulders. Then she became exactly who we needed her to be — fresh, big personality with a smile on her face leading this team in a positive direction.”

While working in the restaurant, Epenesa did it all from front-end service to waitressing to working in the back.

Asked if she was more nervous about carrying a tray of drinks or going up for a kill, Epenesa answered, “I don’t know. It’s pretty nerve-wracking bringing a tray full of drinks to a table.”

The nerves may be much less Friday and Saturday playing in front of a hometown crowd.

After spending time with the Edwardsville volleyball team during a team camp in West Lafayette, Ind., this summer, Epenesa is hoping she’ll be able to put on a show for the Tigers — if they are  able to make it — this weekend.

“I think (EHS) coach (Jami) Parker, Mr. Parker and Gracie are all coming,” Epenesa said. “To see them in the crowd is going to be such a great feeling.”

It would be a chance for Epenesa to show the hometown the type of player and person she has become at Purdue.

“It’ll be an opportunity for her to show the local folks what Purdue is all about and the progress that she’s made,” Shondell said. “I hope she plays to the level she’s capable of playing at.”

Texas Tech Offers California DE Keanu Saleapaga


On Monday, the Texas Tech Red Raider football program offered a scholarship to La Miranda, California defensive end Keanu Saleapaga, his high school Twitter confirmed via Twitter.

Based off initial observations, as Texas Tech continues to try to add size along the defensive front, at 6’6” and 265-pounds, Saleapaga would certainly fit the mold Tech recruiters are trying to fill on the defensive side of the football.

The prospect is not rated by any of the major recruiting services, but seems to have impressed Texas Tech assistant coach Darrin Chiaverini who has deep ties in California. Currently, Oregon State is the only other school to offer a scholarship to Salepaga, so Tech is getting in on this recruit early in hopes that the coaches will have time to build a strong relationship and pull him out of California.

While Saleapaga is being recruited as a defensive end, he is also listed as a tight end on his Hudl page. Here’s his highlight reel that certainly highlights what Coach Chiaverini saw in the recruit.

As more information is made available we’ll be sure to update our readers, and continue to offer film analysis on the players that could be the future of Texas Tech Football.

Falcons Sign DE Sam Meredith To Fill Out Roster

The San Diego State product is the third rookie minicamp tryout participant to make the team.

Left with one open roster spot following this weekend's transactions, the Falcons announced the signing of rookie defensive end Sam Meredith on Monday afternoon, bringing the roster to its offseason maximum of 90 players.

Falcons sign DE Sam Meredith, who was a tryout player during rookie camp, to contract:

Meredith, 6-4, 290 pounds, earned the Dr. R Hardy/C.E. Peterson Memorial Trophy Captains Award after his senior season with the Aztecs. He earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honors as a true sophomore in 2012 and was voted the team's defensive lineman of the year by the coaching staff that season. Meredith is a native of Honolulu, Hawaii and attended Helix High School.

Meredith is the third participant in last weekend's rookie minicamp tryout to land a spot on the team, joining tackle Matt Huffer and defensive back Jonathon Mincy. He recorded one sack, 3.5 TFLs, two force fumbles and blocked a kick in 13 games as a senior for the Aztecs, a squad that ranked 13th nationally in scoring defense last season.

Meredith dealt with some injury woes during his college career, but he is by all accounts an aggressive player with decent athleticism for someone his size. He played strongside defensive end in SDSU's base 3-3-5 defense, so the Falcons could perhaps view him as 5-tech lineman in head coach Dan Quinn's scheme. He's likely a long shot to make the roster given all the competition that will take place on defense in training camp, but perhaps he can snag a practice squad spot with a good showing.


Polynesian softball player Tina Iosefa boasts national pride and offensive success
We are the people of the Polynesian Islands.

The phrase blares through the sound system at Jack Turner Stadium. The song being played is “Polynesian People” by the Hawaiian singer Norm. The music marks another at-bat for Georgia junior Tina Iosefa.

Iosefa is Polynesian and was determined to incorporate a Polynesian song into each home at-bat. The only question was which tune would be the choice for this season.

“I decided every year that I just wanted to go with a Polynesian song,” Iosefa said. “I reached out to my family to find out what song I should pick, and I just chose from there.”

Although it may be an afterthought for the fans, Iosefa’s teammates took a liking to the musical choice. Among them was fellow junior Kaylee Puailoa, whose Samoan roots helped her relate to Iosefa.

“Just being able to have that little touch of home and what's comfortable to us helps,” Puailoa said. “When you're coming up to the plate, it calms you down and takes you back to why we're here in the first place. You're doing it for you, your family and for Georgia.”

The song makes for an interesting scene that preludes each Iosefa appearance. What’s really worth watching, however, is what happens as soon the final note fades out.

Through 45 games this season, Iosefa holds a .333 batting average with four home runs in 30 starts. She has driven in 25 runs this season, good enough for fifth on the team. Her play has come at catcher, first base and designated player, which displays how her adaptability helps fill any necessary role.

“She's great at that,” shortstop Paige Wilson said. “Coach [Lu Harris-Champer] always likes to mix us around. Coach always says that if you're capable of playing somewhere else, you can play your spot.”

A player having to move around to get playing time can be problematic for some. However, Iosefa looks at it in a very simplistic manner.

“It's just about being selfless,” Iosefa said. “I just do whatever I'm told.”

Iosefa’s team-first mindset has put her in some favorable positions in the 2015 season. The ultimate scenario played out in her favor on Easter Sunday when the Bulldogs needed someone to deliver at the plate.

Georgia found itself tied with Missouri 4-4 with one out in the bottom of the seventh. After two runners reached, the familiar Norm song came over the loudspeakers. Up to the plate walked Iosefa, who dropped a walk-off single into center field to give the Bulldogs a 5-4 Southeastern Conference victory.

“For me to be able to walk off like that, it was exciting because it was my first walk-off," Iosefa said. "It was a good feeling.”

What makes Iosefa’s efforts even more admirable is her normal interactions with the other members of this year’s team.

“I think she's really stepped up with leadership,” second baseman Alex Hugo said. “I think it carries over to her hitting; she's been hitting amazing lately. She's brought a lot of hard work, and I think that contributes to her leadership as well. She's stepped up all around this year.”

Wilson expanded upon Hugo’s point by showing how Iosefa offers all she can to each member of the Bulldogs team.

“She's a great competitor and a great teammate,” Wilson said. “She's very positive and always making people laugh. Even if you're down, she's the first one to come to you and make you laugh.”

Iosefa has turned her determination into consistent success. Although it may stand as something natural for her, the efforts she has displayed have not gone unnoticed.

“She's so clutch all the time,” Puailoa said. “It’s great just being able to have that as a model to follow, especially for our younger girls coming up. Being able to have that in the dugout is awesome.”

Softball may be the center of Iosefa’s life as long as she is a Georgia Bulldog, but it doesn’t define her. Game-deciding hits and winning efforts are nice, yet it’s not what Iosefa hopes people take away from knowing her. Her focus lies upon the joy of just being where she is right now.

“Know that whatever I do in life, I'm just excited,” Iosefa said. “I like to have fun with everything. I just enjoy life.”


Murray: Fallon's Josh Mauga overcomes injuries, proves he belongs in NFL

Josh Mauga didn't want to believe it, but he knew his NFL career could be over.

The Fallon High and Nevada Wolf Pack alum had just been cut by the New York Jets. He had just had back surgery. He was back home in Reno. And his phone wasn't ringing with interest from other NFL teams. Injuries had dogged him for the past seven seasons and a thought entered his mind.

"This could be it," Mauga thought. "My career could be over."

Ever since moving to Fallon in 1995, Mauga had been different, "like a god," according to one of his ex-coaches. As a high school freshman, he weighed 215 pounds and benched more than that. He was as fast as a sprinter and as strong as a bodybuilder. But constant injuries never let him fulfill his potential.

As a junior at Nevada, a torn MCL ended his season. As a senior, a torn pec ended his college career. Coming off back-to-back major injuries, the NFL had tepid interest. He wasn't drafted, but the Jets signed him to a non-guaranteed contract. But the injuries didn't stop there. They were just starting.

A concussion in 2010 led to him being waived, but then re-signed. Then, he tore his other pec in 2012, ending his season yet again. Finally, last year, came back surgery. The Jets had simply had enough.

"It was frustrating. It was kind of shocking," Mauga said of being released. "But I understood what was going through their mind. I was hurt the last two years, so they didn't have any more use for me."

And neither, it seemed, did any other NFL team. It was then that he thought football could be over.

"That did cross my mind a couple of times, but my goal was to get healthy and try and get back on the field," said Mauga, who trained in San Diego for two months. "If it didn't work out, it didn't work out."  But it has worked out, and ironically so.

After years of being hurt himself, Mauga, who got a late training camp invitation from the Kansas City Chiefs, got his big break this year when two of his teammates went down with injuries. He's responded and leads the surging Chiefs with a team-high 57 tackles entering Sunday's game at Buffalo. He ranks 32nd in the NFL in tackles and after years of setbacks, Mauga has proven he's a starter in the league.

"Honestly, I'm kind of glad it worked out this way," Mauga said. "I love being out here in K.C. The coaches are great. My teammates are great. The town is great. It's been nice to start a new slate."

When you think of NFL middle linebackers, you think of their foaming-at-the mouth ferocity.

You think of guys like Ray Lewis, Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke. That's not Josh Mauga.

"He's such a nice boy," said Louie Mori, who coached Mauga in football and wrestling at Fallon. "He's one of those kids who's really nice, really polite, works his butt off. He has the skill and ability, but he's truly a nice boy. It's good to see him put a few games together and show he can play. It's pretty cool."

That calm disposition hasn't always been a good thing for Mauga, the second oldest of eight kids.

"Since he was in high school, I've been telling him to get aggressive," his father, Matua Mauga, said. "He seems so mellow out there. Even when he was playing with the Jets, he was that way. The best game I've seen him play was against San Diego this season. I said, 'That's how you get aggressive. You need to be that aggressive every time you play.' He said, 'I know. I play better when I do that.' I said, 'No, duh.'"

Amazingly, Mauga is the second Fallon resident to make it to the NFL this decade, following in the footsteps of offensive lineman Harvey Dahl, who also played for the Wolf Pack. While they are similar off the field — both are humble, somewhat shy guys who try and avoid the spotlight — they are completely different on the field. Dahl was voted among the NFL's nastiest and dirtiest players. He didn't mind drawing personal foul penalties and playing to the echo of the whistle. That's not Mauga's way.

"Harvey loved to hit people," Mori said. "Josh had to learn that aggressiveness. Even if you watch now, he'll never hit anybody if he doesn't have to. He'll always help people up. He's very polite. I would tell him all the time, 'You need to intimidate them. Make them back off and be afraid of you.' He'd never do that. Harvey would go and step up and be an animal, Josh has always been even-keel. That's just him."

But what Mauga lacked in a mean streak, he made up for with raw athleticism and a love of the weight room. One of the best pure athletes in Northern Nevada history, Mauga was a state champion wrestler, a state champion discus thrower and a state runner-up in shot put. Highly recruited out of high school — he had offers from Oregon, Arizona State, Boise State and others — he stayed home to play for Nevada.

Mauga played as a true freshman and was named to a national freshman All-America team. That kind of talent was evident when he was just a high school freshman. He always seemed destined for big things.

"As a freshman, he was 210 or 215 and built like a god," Mori said. "He wasn't a 215-pound young boy. He was already a man. He was benching 250 pounds as a freshman and was just a different kid. As a sophomore, we went to a 'Bigger, Faster, Stronger,' competition and he hit the All-American level in every lift for the senior-class benchmarks. When you saw him, you just said, 'Holy cow! He's amazing.'"

Overcoming adversity

When Mauga became an upperclassmen at Nevada, he was already on the draft radar, a likely mid-round pick. But then came the injuries, which knocked him off draft boards.

The Jets signed him as an undrafted free agent and he spent 2009 on the practice squad. The concussion in training camp of 2010 delayed his NFL debut, which he made later that year, primarily as a special teams player. In 2011, he played in all 16 games, including his first career start, but injuries ended his 2012 season and the back injury wiped out his entire 2013 campaign. The Jets moved on.

"The main thing I've learned in the NFL is you're going to face adversity," said Mauga, who married his high school sweetheart and lives in Reno in the offseason with their two children. "I've definitely had to overcome a lot of injuries and obstacles to make my dream come true of playing in the league."

Things were mostly quiet as Mauga recovered from back surgery until he got a call from Bob Sutton, his former linebackers coach with the Jets. Sutton was the defensive coordinator in Kansas City and offered a training camp invitation to Mauga with no guarantees. The 27-year-old was still a long shot to make the roster. He was given jersey No. 90, typically reserved for defensive linemen, not linebackers.

Then Joe Mays, who was playing in front of Mauga, injured his wrist in the preseason. And in week one, three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Derrick Johnson suffered a season-ending torn Achilles, opening up both middle linebacker spots. Not only was Mauga starting, but so was James-Michael Johnson, a fellow Nevada alum. They've played well. The Chiefs are second in the NFL in points allowed per game.

"It's been real fun playing with James," Mauga said. "I only got to play with him his freshman year and my senior year (in 2008), so it's been pretty cool to play alongside him again. It's been fun."

Mauga's future remains unknown. He's with the Chiefs on a one-year deal and Mays, a top run-stopping linebacker, could return any week. Derrick Johnson is an elite player and will return as a starter next season. But in the first half of this NFL season, Mauga has proven to himself and other NFL teams that he's a quality starter. He's also proven that you can do big things even if you come from a small town.

Fallon is proof of that. The town of 8,000, which sits 60 miles east of Reno, has had had a rash of world-class athletes, including triple jumper Aarik Wilson, who qualified for the 2012 Olympics, and rodeo star Jade Corkill, who has back-to-back world titles as a team roping heeler.

"A lot of people didn't realize how incredible that was," Mori said of Dahl breaking into the NFL. "Then we got Aarik Wilson in the Olympics and Jade Corkill became a world champion roper. Now, Josh is in the NFL starting. Now, everybody is saying, 'This is amazing.' We have all of these great athletes doing great things from this tiny town. It's made people understand there is talent in Fallon, you can get to the top if you work hard. It's not, 'We're too small to compete.' It's made people understand their potential."

Tessa Lea'ea

Returns for her senior campaign in Reno as the focal point of the Nevada offense ... One of the premier middle blockers in the Mountain West ... Led the Wolf Pack in numerous offensive categories last season including kills, kills per set, hitting percentage, points and points per set ... Among the leaders in the Mountain West in kills, blocks and points ... Nevada's leader in blocks for the third consecutive season.

2013 (Jr.): Led the Wolf Pack in numerous offensive categories last season including kills (307), kills per set (2.82), hitting percentage (.249), points (374.0) and points per set (3.43) ... Team leader in blocks (114) and blocks per set (1.05) ... Ranked 16th in the conference in kills, ninth in blocks and 15th in points ... Set match highs in kills four times ... Tallied her third career double-double against Cal Poly (Sept. 15) ... Set a career high in kills with 22 against Montana (Sept. 14) ... Her 13 blocks against UC Santa Barbara (Aug. 31) tied a career high ... One of four players who played every set (109) and started every match (32) for the Wolf Pack in 2013.

Epenesa pulling it together for Purdue volleyball

Sam Epenesa succumbed to the temptations, like many college kids away from home for the first time do.  Personal issues and wild weekends could have led to the Purdue volleyball player's self-destruction.  Epenesa struggled emotionally and academically. She wanted to go back to her home in Glen Carbon, Ill.

"Volleyball was the one thing I was good at. Everything else crumbled," Epenesa said.  Instead of letting life beat her down, Epenesa grew up.  By her own admission, she's more mature. And to everyone who has watched the Boilermakers this season, she's playing better than ever.

Epenesa is hitting .296 in Big Ten play, a phenomenal mark for an outside hitter and a major reason why Purdue is in first place with a 7-1 league mark. She has 162 kills this season. She's already punched double-figure kills five times in conference play and did it on back-to-back nights last weekend against the team's toughest competition to date.

There are two more tough ones on the slate this weekend as Purdue returns to Epenesa's home state to face Northwestern and Illinois.  "She has learned from whatever she's done in the past," Purdue coach Dave Shondell said. "Whatever she was doing in her day-to-day life or in the practice gym getting ready to play, it wasn't working."

Last fall, Epenesa had her share of big moments, shining brightest against eventual NCAA champion Penn State.  Expecting her to run the gauntlet and perform every night was a question mark.

Epenesa struggled internally with the frustration of her mother's battle with breast cancer. Just as Stephanie Epenesa won that fight, Sam's grandmother began a war of her own with lymphoma.  "Going through all of that and playing volleyball and being a full-time student, I didn't handle it well," Epenesa said.  Last weekend, her grandmother was finally able to make the trip to West Lafayette.

Epenesa placed a heavy emphasis on family when choosing Purdue, believing the Boilermakers gave her the best environment to have the right support system.  That choice was proven correct when Epenesa caught a glimpse of Shondell embracing her grandmother in Holloway Gymnasium.

"She (Epenesa's grandma) had been pretty ill and has just gotten over a lot of her treatments," Epenesa said. "The first thing Dave did was went over to my grandma and gave her a big smooch on the cheek and told her how happy he was to see her.

"He noticed she made it back, even though she was wearing hats and might not have her hair. He held on to her like she was his own family."

With her grandmother in attendance, Epenesa put on a show, hitting nearly .500 as Purdue topped Ohio State in five sets.

She decided last spring that she'd long been making the wrong choices.

"You never really have freedom like this until you get here," Epenesa said. "There were a lot of things I didn't really grasp. Obviously team comes first, but I didn't realize that in every aspect.

"You don't have to go out every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That is up to you. I realized there were choices I could make to make my life easier or to make my life harder."

She put the volleyball team above all else except her family and her faith.  Teammates took notice.  "She has matured and realizes what is important. It's great the team is the No. 1 priority," junior libero Amanda Neill said.  Her play showed her dedication despite her being just 6 feet tall and facing monsters at the net who provide a barrier.

The daughter of former Iowa defensive lineman Eppy Epenesa and older sister of A.J. Epenesa, a high school sophomore being recruited by seemingly every college football program in the country, she possesses some of the same athletic qualities.

"She has one of the best builds on the team," teammate Annie Drews said. "Her abs, her arms and her legs are so strong. She is one of the strongest players on the team and she jumps really well. What she lacks in height, she makes up for in other areas."

Epenesa's father is American Samoan. The lineage leaves her with relatives just about anywhere she travels.  Shondell said he notices a small Epenesa fan section almost every night the Boilermakers play.

"I have yet to go somewhere that my dad doesn't have a contact or a family friend," Epenesa said. "Quite frankly, a lot of them aren't just family friends, but distant relatives."  Epenesa knows her family is going to support her win or lose, outstanding performance or not.  But a more mature Epenesa is giving them reason to cheer.

Purdue needed their junior outside hitter to step up and have a fantastic season. So far, she's obliged.  "We've played 20 matches this year. I think she has had two that she hasn't been playing at a high level. That's awfully good," Shondell said.

Wolf Pack's 25 most important players: No.13 #8-DE Ian Seau

The Wolf Pack football team opens the season Aug. 30 against Southern Utah. Every day until the season opener, we will count down the team's 25 most important players in 2014. Here's a look at No. 13.

#8. DE Ian Seau

Year: Junior

Height/weight: 6-2/255

Hometown: Oceanside, Calif.

2013 statistics: 12 games (four starts): 23 tackles, five TFL, one forced fumble, one breakup

Why he's important: The Wolf Pack front four must be above-average for the defense as a whole to play well. Seau is a key part of that front four. He's got elite get-off post-snap and caused six or seven holds last season despite being undersized. This summer, he added about 20 pounds to better battle in the trenches and look the part of a rush end. He should create a dynamic rush duo alongside Brock Hekking.

Ideal role: Seau will start and specialize in pass-rushing situations. Given how much pressure he put on the backfield last season, it's incredible to think he didn't record a sack in 2013, his first at Nevada. He's due for a breakout season. I wouldn't be shocked to see him push for All-MWC honors. His first step is going to give offensive tackles issues. He needs to continue to improve on holding up versus the run, with the added weight being an ally there.

2014 forecast: 12 games (11 starts): 44 tackles, 12 TFL, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, three breakups

Did you know? Seau is one of just three Wolf Pack players who began their career at another FBS school before transferring to Nevada. Seau came from Kansas State; LB Matthew Lyons came from Washington; and S Duran Workman came from Army.

NFL Draft: Vikings Select Oregon State DE Scott Crichton

Parents are both from Western Samoa. The Washington prep enrolled at Oregon State and redshirted as a freshman in 2010. Earned the starting job at right defensive end in 2011 and had 74 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and six sacks with three passes batted and a school-record six forced fumbles in 12 games. Ranked first among the nation's freshman class in tackles for loss and sacks. Moved over to the left defensive end spot in 2012 and appeared in 13 games (12 starts), recording 44 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks with three passes batted and one forced fumble. Had a three-sack game against Washington State. Missed spring practice in 2013, rehabilitating from off-season shoulder surgery. In 13 starts at left defensive end in the fall, he had 47 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks with three passes batted and three forced fumbles. Concluded his career as the Beavers' all-time leader in forced fumbles (10) and ranked third in sacks (22.5). Revealed at the NFL combine that he elected to leave school one year early to support his family; his mother works two jobs, and his father still works despite having a leg amputated.


Put together -- has a well-proportioned, muscular build with long arms and big hands. Good burst off the snap. Flashes power. Can shoot his hands, extend and get under a tackle's pads. Generally plays on his feet. Nice closing speed when he has a bead. Strong tackler. Tries for the strip (10 career FFs). Productive three-year starter.


Strong, athletic, raw defensive end prospect who would have been better served returning for his senior season. Despite being rough around the edges at this stage of his development, Crichton shows in flashes and has power potential as a 4-3 defensive end. Could require patience.

Sibling rivalry: It works for them

Brother and sister wrestlers benefit from partnership

Mount Miguel High’s Miracle Tausaga and his sophomore sister, Leimai, fight almost every day. Serious, physical confrontations.

No big deal, brothers and sisters fight all the time, right?

This is a little different. Miracle is the San Diego Section’s top heavyweight wrestler and his sister recently captured the section girls heavyweight title. The fighting they do comes in practice every day.

“She’s my wrestling partner because she’s my size and she’s way more aggressive than most wrestlers, boy or girl,” says Miracle matter-of-factly. “She’s faster and heavier than anyone on the team.

“It helps both of us. I have a workout partner who’s not intimidated and she won’t find a girl who’s as strong as I am.”

Miracle is a 6-foot, 235-pounder who is 33-3 and defended his section Division IV title Saturday. He is favored in the masters meet this weekend. He has bench-pressed 285, doing three sets of 10 at 225 in practice. He was a first team All-League linebacker-running back in football.

Leimai has never lifted weights. She played middle blocker in volleyball. Leimai is quick on her feet and has suffered just one loss this year — to a boy.

“I throw him around, he throws me around and afterward we both laugh,” says Leimai, who weighs the same as her brother. “We don’t hold back. I think it helps me more than him because I’m more aggressive.”

Leimai has six older brothers but she says they never came to her rescue when she was in trouble.

“They didn’t have to because they knew I could take care of myself,” she says, chuckling. “They picked on me but they let me join in when they played sports.”

Those family gatherings were encouraged by their father, Ula, the pastor of the Samoan Independent Full Gospel Church in Lemon Grove where Miracle and Leimai are in the choir and both learned a lot about life while working on weekly countywide food drives.

“It’s for the homeless,” said Miracle, who got his name after he and his mother, Mai, survived a particularly dangerous childbirth.

“Doing it makes me feel good because it gives them another chance. I like singing in the choir, too.”

Miracle says he far prefers wrestling over football. He says while he likes the bonding in football where he gets an appreciation of team, he prefers the opportunity to decide his own fate one-on-one on the mat based on training and learning.

He says while there are just three two-minute periods in a wrestling match, meets like the section championships, masters and state can be far more grueling than football, lasting all day for two days.

Miracle lost in the first round of the state last year, wrestled back with four wins, but then lost the first match the next day. That won’t be close to good enough this year.

“I had butterflies that first match,” explains Miracle, “but now I know what to expect. I’m ranked fifth in the state and my losses are to the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers in the state. I’ve learned from those losses.”

As for Leimai, anything short of a state championship this weekend in Visalia will not be tolerated.

She and Mount Miguel teammate Talisha Dozier are both favored, but Leimai has simply dominated her opponents, usually winning by fall (pin) early in the match.

“It was my first state meet and all the girls ahead of me were seniors,” says Leimai, who placed eighth overall last year.

Miracle won’t be there to cheer her on as he participates in the section masters meet. But his thoughts will be with her, just as they are every day in practice.


Talavalu Head Coach Leota Setefano Fata with the 12 member Talavalu Team that travelled to Hong Kong. [photo: TA]
The Hong Kong Experience: A history-making Journey

Picture this: Two teams running onto the rugby pitch in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Sevens 2014 Rugby tournament.
One team, a previous core member team fighting their way back into core status, made up of seasoned more experienced players, trained in state of the art gyms and coached by seasoned, experienced coaches in the game. They run in and immediately get into position to play.
Now imagine the other team. A long way from home — American Samoa — whose most notable win was at the Oceania qualifying leg for the Hong Kong Qualifier world series. 12 players who have trained in what ever gym is made available to them. Practice at a stadium that seats a maximum crowd of 2,000 and are lucky if they play in any rugby tournament 2-3 times a year.

Read article

Wolf Pack defensive end Ian Seau chooses to play despite famous uncle’s football-related suicide

In one lightning-quick move, Ian Seau showed why the Nevada football team wanted him. He showed off his bloodlines.

The Wolf Pack had opened its game against UC Davis at Mackay Stadium on Saturday night by picking off an Aggies pass and then scoring a touchdown three plays later, 61 seconds into the game. Nevada had quickly snatched the momentum.

Three plays after the touchdown, facing a third-and-11, the Aggies’ Manusamoa Luugu broke off a 46-yard run on a draw play to the Nevada 30-yard line. UC Davis was in position to steal the momentum right back.

But on the next play, the 6-foot-2, 227-pound Seau, a sophomore defensive end who played at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif., last season, looked more like a 5-9, 160-pound receiver when he faked a move to the inside, got the left tackle off balance and then bolted into the backfield where he read a receiver sweep perfectly and tackled Alex Cannon for a 12-yard loss.

The Aggies punted, the Wolf Pack scored on its next possession, and the game was never really in doubt afterward as Nevada rolled to a 36-7 victory.

Seau, a second-team end whom coach Brian Polian said had a so-so debut against UCLA a week prior, had 2 1/2 of the Wolf Pack’s six tackles for loss and also forced a fumble.

“He’s going to get increased reps because he’s proven from week one to week two that he’s made a significant leap,” said Polian, who has more depth at defensive end than probably any other position. “He got some pressure on the quarterback, made a great tackle for loss. So, he’s earned more playing time and he’ll get it.”

Famous bloodlines

That’s certainly music to Seau’s ears. Like any competitor he wants to play. But he is also on a constant quest to find the great balance between playing too much or perhaps too hard and still giving his all to the game he loves.

Junior Seau was Ian’s uncle as well as being one of the NFL’s most dominant and ferocious middle linebackers of the past quarter century.

Junior Seau played 20 seasons in the NFL, mostly for the San Diego Chargers. That was after four seasons at USC and more football at Oceanside High. He played with reckless abandon.

“As a kid I remember going to a couple of (Charger) games,” Ian, 20, said at practice this week. “I have tapes of him. When I watch him it’s like, this dude, he’s real. …

“A lot of people think of him as a football player. I think of him as a guy I could just kick it with. He liked to go to the beach, liked to surf. We’d have barbecues at his house. That’s what I think of when I think of him.”

Junior Seau committed suicide in May 2012, eight months before Ian signed his Letter of Intent to play for Nevada. Junior was 43. Tests of his brain later revealed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the illness often caused by multiple concussions — the illness that has led to a rash of suicides by former NFL players in recent years.

Like other ex-NFL players who have committed suicide, Junior Seau shot himself in the chest, an act, perhaps, to preserve his brain for testing.

Ian isn’t at risk of CTE because he’s a Seau. He’s at risk because he plays. Being the nephew of Junior Seau only intensifies the conundrum.

“Yeah, I think about it,” said Ian, who began his college career at Kansas State but felt homesick and transferred after he redshirted his freshman year. “I talked to my family. After the whole situation (with Junior’s suicide), I wanted to play. My family said, ‘If that’s what you want to do, let’s do it.’ I wanted to see what I can do. He played a long time. He threw his body around. He was a great player.”

A perfect fit

Ian, who had 19 sacks at Grossmont last season, was set to attend his hometown school, San Diego State, when former Wolf Pack assistant Ken Wilson, now at Washington State, began recruiting him for Nevada. Wilson maintained contact with Ian during the coaching transition here, and Polian picked it up when he was hired in January.

“Kenny Wilson did an unbelievable job of recruiting him,” Polian said. “All I had to do was come in and assure him that everything was going to be OK, and even though there was a coaching change we still wanted him and we had a plan for him.”

Nevada proved to be a perfect fit. Kansas State was too far away. San Diego State, when your name is Seau and just months after your famous uncle’s suicide, was too close.

“Polian was talking to me, (saying), ‘Your whole name would surround you at San Diego State,’” said Ian, whose mom, Mary, is Junior’s older sister. “It was nice to talk with him because he told me, ‘I’m not taking you as a Seau. I’m taking you as a person.’ I’m not the type of guy to throw my name around. I don’t want people to judge me based on my name.”

Polian also bonded with Ian from a familial standpoint, sharing his thoughts on knowing what it’s like to grow up with a famous name.

“The other thing I talked about was, I understand what it’s like to grow up with a famous last name and the kind of pressure that that comes with and the kind of expectations that that comes with and how you are held to a different standard whether you like it or not,” said Polian, whose father, Bill Polian, was an NFL general manager who built the Buffalo Bills into a four-time Super Bowl team in the early 1990s. “And I think he and I had a little common ground when it came to that.”

Inherent risk

Ian, who is studying communication at Nevada and wants to become a coach, continues to play, as do thousands of college players, knowing there’s always a risk. The NFL recently settled a multimillion dollar lawsuit by former players related to head injuries. A few former college players recently filed a similar lawsuit against the NCAA.

“As a whole, there’s inherent risk in the game, and anyone who plays the game knows that,” said Polian, who was a linebacker at John Carroll University in Ohio. “… We talked a little bit about it in the recruiting process because when you made a home visit with Ian you made a home visit with the whole family, which was fine. Junior’s dad was there. I didn’t speak about the trouble that Junior had gone through. I mean, who am I to speak about that. No one knows what he was feeling and what was going through his head. I certainly talked about the respect I had for him as a man and a football player.”

The risk is indeed inherent and potentially devastating. But for so many it’s still not enough to stop them from chasing their dreams.

“A lot of people who play college football want to play at the next level,” Ian said. “My hope and dream is to go out and do it.”

Marques Tuiasosopo accepts offer to coach tight ends at USC

Marques Tuiasosopo has accepted an offer to become the tight ends coach at USC, multiple sources have told The Seattle Times.

The popular former Washington quarterback was named the Huskies’ interim head coach earlier this month, then guided UW to a 31-16 victory over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Friday night.

USC is expected to make a formal announcement of Tuiasosopo’s hiring on Monday.

UPDATE: USC is also expected to announce the hiring of UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox in the same role on Monday, sources said.

The Huskies finished with a 9-4 record this season, the program’s most wins since Tuiasosopo led the Huskies to an 11-1 finish and a Rose Bowl win during the 2000 season.

A year ago, Tuiasosopo was hired by former UW coach Steve Sarkisian to coach UW’s quarterbacks. Sarkisian left UW to coach the Trojans on Dec. 2.

New UW coach Chris Petersen had offered Tuiasosopo a chance to remain at UW as tight ends coach.

Petersen is expected to announce his UW coaching staff early this week. Former Boise State quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith will succeed Tuiasosopo as UW’s quarterbacks coach, sources have said.

SB Nation Names Keenan Reynolds Independent Offensive Player Of The Year; Ken Niumatalolo Independent Coach Of the Year

Reynolds also named NAAA Athlete of the Week for the seventh time this year

SB Nation has tabbed Navy sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds its Independent Offensive Player of the Year and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo the Independent Coach of the Year. BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy was the Independent Defensive Player of the Year.

In just his second season at Navy, Reynolds, who was also named the NAAA Athlete of the Week for the seventh time this fall, is well on his way to rewriting the school and national record books, establishing an NCAA single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 29 this season, tying the NCAA record for most touchdowns in a game against an FBS opponent (7 vs. San Jose State), scoring a program-best 42 points against San Jose State, breaking a nearly 100-year-old season scoring mark at Navy with 176 points (174 by Bill Ingram in 1917) and smashing the school record for points responsible for in a season with 224. He needs one rushing touchdown to become just the fourth person in FBS history to rush for 30 or more touchdowns in a single-season.

Niumatalolo led Navy to an 8-4 mark, a bowl game for the 10th time in the last 11 years and the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the ninth time in the last 11 years. The Mids went undefeated at home and beat Army for a 12th-consecutive time. Niumatalolo is 48-30 in his sixth year as the head coach, which is the most wins in school history for a coach in his first six years. His 48 wins are third all-time in Navy history, trailing Eddie Erdelatz (1950-58) by just two for second and George Welsh (1973-81) by just seven wins for first.



FOXBORO — You have to become creative if you want to get in shape in American Samoa.

Patriots defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga wanted it.

Growing up in the village of Fagasa there were no free weights. So in order to lift, the first thing he did was collect coconuts. Depending on the weather, there were two ways he’d perform the task. The first way was to climb up a tree — all 300-plus pounds of him — and pull off the pieces of fruit by hand.

“It’s just like seeing ‘The Jungle Book,’ ” Sopoaga said. “I was like (Mowgli in) ‘The Jungle Book’ going up. I climbed the coconut tree with bare hand and bare foot. You just got to use a lot of your palm and in your feet to lock yourself into the coconut tree to climb up.”

The second way to get the coconuts, if it was raining and climbing was out of the question, was to hurl rocks toward the tropical sky in an attempt to knock down the coconuts one by one. It wasn’t easy. Some of the trees stood over 75 feet tall.

Sopoaga typically gathered around 120-160 pieces before he moved on to the next phase. He would then weave two baskets made out of the trees’ feather-like leaves. When he was finished, he loaded the coconuts into the baskets and attached them on opposite sides of a small tree that he knocked down.

And then, he would work out.

“We have no weights back home, so I would weave baskets out of coconut palm tree and average like 60 or 80 in each bag. I would get a little tree and carry it,” Sopoaga said.

The training methods were unique on the island of Tutuila, but it’s part of the journey that led this righteous Samoan all over the globe and into the NFL today with the Patriots.

Quite a find

June Jones has been traveling to American Samoa for the past 15 years. While coaching at the University of Hawaii, he recruited some of his best athletes from the islands —Sopoaga included.

Jones will never forget the day he first saw Sopoaga. He was raw, but Jones, now at SMU, immediately saw the potential.

Poly Football Hall Of Fame names finalists

Honolulu, HI
– The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced today 25 Finalists will be on the ballot for inaugural induction into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. The list includes 20 players and five coaches/contributors.

The Finalists were selected from a field of over 100 nominees by a Selection Committee comprised of former college head football coaches Dick Tomey, LaVell Edwards, Ron McBride, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL player personnel expert Gil Brandt and Honolulu Sportscaster Robert Kekaula.

“The Selection Committee is as notable and recognizable in coaching, media and player personnel as you can get. They have a unique perspective, appreciation and understanding of Polynesia’s contribution to the game,” said Vai Sikahema, member of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors.

The committee will meet again in the coming weeks to select the seven members (six players and one coach/contributor) to be inducted as the Inaugural Class for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. Members of the Board of Directors have asked to be excluded from consideration for this first class.

“The Selection Committee has been hard at work,” said Dick Tomey, Chairman. “This is quite a challenge as there are so many great Polynesian football players, coaches and contributors to consider.”

The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame inaugural inductees will be announced on October 9, 2013. They will be honored at the Inaugural Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, to be held at the Hawai’i Convention Center (Honolulu) on January 23, 2014 prior to the NFL Pro Bowl.

To learn more, please visit…,,


George Achica (DT) USC, Pro: NFL (IND) & USFL 3 years, Samoan ancestry
Junior Ah You (DE) Arizona State, Pro: CFL & USFL 12 years, Samoan ancestry
Bob Apisa (FB/HB) Michigan State, Pro: NFL (GB) 1 year, Samoan ancestry
Charles "Charlie" Teetai Ane, Jr. (OL) USC, Pro: NFL (DET) 6 years, Samoan ancestry
Herman “Buddy” Piikei Clark (RB) Oregon State, Pro: NFL (CHI) 4 years, Hawaiian ancestry
Riki Morgan Ellison (LB) USC, Pro: NFL (SF, OAK) 8 years, Maori ancestry
Luther John Elliss (DT) Utah, Pro: NFL (DET, DEN) 9 years, Samoan ancestry
Rockne Crowningburg Freitas (OL) Oregon State, Pro: NFL (DET, TB) 10 years, Hawaiian ancestry
Kurt Keola Gouveia (LB) BYU, Pro: NFL (WAS, PHI, SD) 13 years, Hawaiian ancestry
Ma'ake Tu'amelie Kemoeatu (DT) Utah, Pro: NFL (BAL, CAR, WAS) 11 years, Tongan ancestry
Olin George Kreutz (C) Washington, Pro: NFL (CHI, NO) 14 years, Hawaiian ancestry
Kevin James Mawae (C) LSU, Pro: NFL (SEA, NYJ, TEN) 18 years, Hawaiian ancestry
Alapati “Al” Noga (DL) Hawai’i, Pro: NFL (MIN, WAS, IND) 6 years, Samoan ancestry
Tiaina Baul “Junior” Seau, Jr. (LB) USC, Pro: NFL (SD, NE, MIA) 20 years, Samoan ancestry
Ray Frederick Schoenke (OT/OG) SMU, Pro: NFL (DAL, WAS) 12 years, Hawaiian ancestry
Mosiula “Mosi” Faasuka Tatupu (RB/KR) USC, Pro: NFL (NE, STL) 14 years, Samoan ancestry
Jack Thompson (QB) Washington State, Pro: NFL (CIN, TB) 6 years, Samoan ancestry
Manu'ula “Manu” Asovalu Tuiasosopo (DL) UCLA, Pro: NFL (SEA, SF) 7 years, Samoan ancestry
Mark Pulemau Tuinei (OT) Hawai’i, Pro: NFL (DAL, NE, MIA) 15 years, Samoan ancestry
Herman John Wedemeyer (HB) St. Mary’s College, Pro: AAFL (Dons, BAL) 2 years, Hawaiian ancestry


Thomas Ka’auwai Ka’ulukukui, Former Head football Coach at University of Hawai’i, Hawaiian ancestry
Albert “Al” Lolotai (OL) Weber JC, Pro: NFL (WAS), AAFL (Dons), 4 years, Samoan ancestry
John Manumaleuna, Contributor, Southern California Advocate for Polynesian Youth, Samoan ancestry
Ken Niumatalolo, Head Football Coach at United States Naval Academy, Samoan ancestry
Charlie Wedemeyer, Former Head Football Coach, Los Gatos High School (CA),
Hawaiian ancestry

Eagles defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga.
(AP Photo)
Sopoaga bringing energy to Eagles defense

PHILADELPHIA – Isaac Sopoaga thinks leadership is overrated.

The 330-pound nose tackle from American Samoa makes a pretty compelling argument when he’s not clowning around spelling out the Eagles cheer or watching Rocky motion picture reruns, particularly Rocky IV (the idea of good triumphing over evil against all odds on the road almost tears him up).

Eleven players sacrificing to be one, that’s where Sopoaga is coming from.

“I am not trying to be like a leader,” Sopoaga said. “I’m just looking after my guys. I’m just being about taking care of my guys because I want to win and of course my guys want to win, our coach wants to win and our team wants to win. So that’s what I’m doing.

“If all 11 guys work together one play at a time it will be something sweet.”

With Sopoaga in the middle, the San Francisco 49ers worked it one play at a time while the offense did its thing all the way to Super Bowl 47. The season ended in a crushing 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans.

The 49ers couldn’t keep everyone from that team, and Sopoaga was a natural fit for the Eagles, who are transitioning to a 3-4 defense

San Jose State lands San Diego LB

San Jose State is off to a fast start and has six total commitments with the recent pledge of Rueben Leasau.

“I committed last night,” Leasau said. “Everything just felt right at San Jose State. The coaching staff was great with me and my family and I felt like I had a good chemistry with everyone there. Plus it just felt like home when I visited and that’s what I was looking for.

“I took an unofficial visit back in April and really liked it a lot. Coach Donte Williams, he’s the one that was recruiting me and that’s my guy right there. I know it’s early for me but I just felt like this was the perfect fit for me so there was no point in putting it off. Plus I wanted to do it before my senior year so I could just focus on school and football and now I’ll be able to do that.”

Leasau had a solid showing at the SoCal NIKE Camp where he measured in at 6-1, 205 pounds and clocked a 4.88-40 and jumped 33 inches in the vertical. He has a long frame and will easily be able to hold another 25 pounds or so without a problem. He was a 1st team All-league...

Troy Polamalu
Highlights of Youth Day and the 4th of July celebration included Polamalu holding the Youth Day Championship flag to signal who was winner of different games, and an impromptu siva palagi by Troy and Theadora with the youth.

“I can promise you today (Thursday) you’ll be seeing a lot of new changes for you in the next, six to 12 months, as long as we stay in the chorus and make you the most valuable assets in our administration,” said Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga. His Special remarks were made during the 4th of July celebration held at the Suigaula, Utulei Beach, comprising cultural games and entertainment.

The event was hosted by the Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs, as this month is Youth Month.

The theme of the day was ‘Our Future Is in Your Hands’, and began with a parade down Utulei village to Suigaula, lead by Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, his wife Pohakalani, other government directors, as well as Boy Scouts leaders.

The youth of more than 1,000 participants were treated with a special appearance by well known football star Troy Polamalu, who was accompanied by his wife Theadora and their two sons, Paisios and Ephraim.

For the first time, in a very long time, American Samoa hosted a special ceremony, including a parade, to mark the United States’ birthday. DYWA, Acting Director Pa’u Roy Ausage noted that three milestones involving the youth has come about: Firstly the government has employed more than 500+ students this summer; DYWA’s budget has been restored 100%; and, this administration is in the process of building a Sports Complex in Pago Pago for the youth.

Members of the cabinet also joined in during the youth games where directors and agency heads teamed up in twosomes, and played the three-legged-race — including Governor Lolo and Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga.

Governor Lolo in his speech pointed out that he has four main points he wanted the youth to hear about.

This Fourth of July, is the celebration of freedom. “We celebrate the birth of a nation that has become the beacon of freedom, justice for the world and a benefactor of American Samoa for the last 113 years.

“Second, we are celebrating today, the vision of our forefathers when they decided to put American Samoa under the protection of the great government of the United States, which is founded upon the principles of freedom and the protection of individual rights.

“Third, we are celebrating for the first time American Samoa has come together as a community to celebrate the youth of American Samoa; to send the message to the youth that they are the future of this territory.”

Governor Lolo’s last point was how heartwarming and gratifying it was to have “a son of Samoa” — Troy Polamalu, who has not forgotten his roots, who he is, and where he comes from.

The messages that Polamalu is giving out to you is that “sky is the limit as far as success is concerned, his job, my job the leaders job is to provide opportunity for the young people to become somebody useful in our community in the future,” the governor stated.

“But the decision and choice to become successful will be yours to make, our job is to provide opportunities and your job it to make a commitment to be the custodian of our people’s future,” Lolo said.

He added, “money is an issue, but we are not going to let that issue become a factor for the government… that will not stop ASG… we will do whatever we can to make sure, that those services will be delivered to you.”

Polamalu also offered remarks, noting the beauty of celebrating Youth Day on the fourth of July. He pointed out to the youth that the most important thing that he and his wife, Theadora believe is the need to stay focused on “education”.

He said their Team came down with professional volleyball players, professional football players, and they also have counselors to help students prepare for college. To the parents, Polamalu said, these counselors are also here to assist them.

Polamalu urged the parents to take advantage of this opportunity and meet with counselors about how to get their child prepared for college. “So they can bring back knowledge on how to become not just football player, but also being a lawyer, doctor, or judge.

“Which to me is more impressive — to be a lawyer, judge, and doctor, than even a Hall of Fame football player. So again, I open up to you the opportunity to sit down with our counselors and talk to some of the players about how to prepare for college, and how to prepare to have success if that’s what you desire in the academic world.”

Highlights of Youth Day and the 4th of July celebration included Polamalu holding the Youth Day Championship flag to signal who was winner of different games, and an impromptu siva palagi by Troy and Theadora with the youth.


TODD MILLES, The News Tribune

Why wait to be great?  Tacoma, Washington's Bellarmine Prep’s Sefo Liufau chooses not to.

Sefo is the grandson of HELENA IU ISAIA (the ULI family) LIUFAU and the late SUA FILIGA LIUFAU of Aua.  Parents are JOE SUA LIUFAU of Aua and HEATHER HIEPTAS LIUFAU of Tacoma, WA.

Sefo wishes grandma (MAMA), aunts, uncles and all the families in American Samoa a big fa'afetai for their prayers, love and support.

Liufau’s career for the Lions in football and basketball will likely be long remembered by followers of city high school athletics.  He was the star quarterback for three seasons, leading the school to its first Gridiron Classic appearance in December. And he was a four-year starter at forward in basketball, helping the Lions reach the Class 4A state semifinals in 2011-12.  A true unquestioned leader on and off either playing surface, Liufau is The News Tribune’s 2012-13 senior high school male athlete of the year.

“Sefo’s accomplishments on the field, court and in the classroom are obviously outstanding,” Bellarmine Prep athletic director Ed Ploof said. “It is in the area of leadership, however, where he truly made his mark at Bellarmine. He has the unique ability to make everyone around him compete to the best of their abilities, and exceed even their own expectations.”

As soon as one path ended for Liufau, another one began — literally in a matter of hours.  After Bellarmine Prep’s senior class graduated June 2 — early on a Sunday afternoon — Liufau boarded a flight to Denver with his dad to start school at the University of Colorado.  The next day, after father Joe Liufau helped his teenage son move into his college dormitory room at Willard Hall in Boulder, Colo., Sefo Liufau enrolled in his first college course — Business Core 1010-3, or introduction to business.

After that, he headed directly to the football field for a team-led practice.  In his second day, he threw his first touchdown pass in seven-on-seven drills — on a go-route.  And by Thursday, he was still wandering around campus, figuring out where everything was located.  “I don’t know every building by name yet,” Liufau said. “It does not help all the buildings look the same.” 

His roommate at Willard Hall is incoming tight end Derek McCartney, a grandson of former Buffaloes coach Bill McCartney.  Liufau’s dormitory is 100 yards from the food court, which serves six different ethnic cuisines daily, including Persian, Mexican and Italian.  “Pretty much anything you’d want,” Liufau said. “And there is a dessert bar.”

This is the life Liufau decided on right after he signed with Colorado in February, giving up spending time close to family and friends in Tacoma … and a summer of leisure.  “It is hard, seeing how fast everything goes,” Liufau said. “But I don’t regret my decision. For me, this is enjoyable, coming to Colorado to start working.”  Not only is he fitting it — older teammates refer to Liufau as “Rook” — but he is showing the team unwavering commitment.

In the volunteer workouts, newcomers were excused early to get a head start on the walk across campus to get lunch. Instead, Liufau stayed behind to throw more passes to his receivers.  By the time he got back on campus, the food court was closed.  So he went to his dormitory room and munched on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“Within the first week, there’s been so much stuff I’ve had to do,” Liufau said. “You have to be on top of everything, because it only gets worse in the fall.”  He has one primary goal: Earn the starting quarterback job at Colorado as soon as possible.

“You have to have a lot of confidence — in teammates and your own ability, especially coming in here as a freshman,” Liufau said. “I definitely have a desire to be great, and be the best at what I do.”


Cumulative GPA: 3.57.
Sefo is 6'4" and 220 lbs.
Career varsity letters: 7 (4 in basketball, 3 in football).
College choice: Colorado.

Best memory: “One good memory was when we came back against Bothell in the football playoffs (4A quarterfinals) my sophomore year. Another one was beating Gonzaga Prep (in the 4A quarterfinals) this year … in a nail-biting game. That was fun, especially the bus ride back.”

June Jones scholarship awards for the local Am Samoan Athletes 2013

The June Jones Foundation and the medical team of the Goodwill Mission touched down on American Samoa soil this past Thursday evening, with another medical donation intended for the LBJ Medical Center, along with five student athlete scholarships that were awarded to two female and three males yesterday at the Governor's Office in Utulei.

Leading the group was Coach June Jones who has been a tremendous help to not only the youth of American Samoa, but the people of Tutuila and Manu’a for continuously making trips to aid not only our local hospital but also various athletic scholarships for both football and volleyball players.

Coach Jones mentioned that these trips to American Samoa make him feel better about the people who took care of him while he was coaching at UH, “This has been a big blessing for us and for the kids of Samoa and the hospital, doctors and nurses. I have made some really good friends over the last fifteen years and it is always good to see them. I always enjoy my time coming back, to give back to an island that was very good to me when I was coaching at the University of Hawaii.”

Jones said that this trip is different from the recent trips because “Every year there is a uniqueness… I am always excited to see the kids, the student athletes that come through and I must say I am very proud of the kids here and their academic scholarships, and that they were chosen by the Department of Education. They were picked not only for their athleticism, but for their academic standards, and that's what makes me very proud.”

Jones also commented on their Goodwill Mission by saying that “…for our medical trip, I am taking probably around four to five hundred thousand dollars worth of medical supplies, and the doctors and the nurses have come to extend their help at the hospital and to help as many people as they can in the time frame that we’re here.”

“So every year, I think that has grown a little bit more, and it has been combined together with the athletic and academic part of these trips," he added.

Samoa News understands that the Goodwill Mission will present their Medical Donation to the LBJ Medical Center next Monday.

According to Jones, former NFL Superbowl winner Jesse Sapolu of the San Francisco 49ers will be leading the athletic training this year as far as on- field sessions.

“Jesse Sapolu, Ma’a Tanuvasa, Vince Manuwai and Reno Mahe, will be in charge of the on field sessions, so I think that will be a very good combination, they are all top of the line NFL players and they know a lot about that game.”

He added, “they’ve got six or eight superbowl rings amongst them so they are the best at what they do.”

Jones acknowledged those who have supported them on this, their sixth trip.

“We’re just grateful for all the communities for stepping up, Blue Sky, and all the different sponsors that have helped us when we come down here, Sadies by the Sea has been wonderful and the people there are great, and of course getting to see the new administration, the Lt. Governor. It's a great time, I think for the island too.”

On hand to welcome the group as well as the NFL players was Lt. Governor Lemanu Mauga who thanked June Jones and the Goodwill Mission for their non-stop support and love for the people of American Samoa by saying, “Sitting in front of you today, I am very humbled. Coach June Jones and the Goodwill Mission group, and doctors, nurses and NFL players, thank you very much.”

“Thank you for these six years that you have donated to us— to be part of the lives of the American Samoan people, and for letting us be part of your lives, we are very honored to have you here and I hope you enjoy your next few days in American Samoa,” said the Lt. Gov.

Medical Team Director Marchelle Tapusoa presented Mauga with their donation saying, “Each year we collect stuff that hospital and parent homes are getting rid of. They would change their products and they would have thousand and thousand of old products and these are still not used, and not expired. Thinking that someone could make use of it, what we do is we gather it, and we hope to bring it to Samoa. We will be getting partial shipments coming in within the next couple of weeks that will be given out to the LBJ Hospital, the Hope House in Fatu-O-Aiga, and other health dispensaries here in American Samoa”.

The following are the five student athletes who have been awarded June Jones Foundation Scholarships this year:

Bruce Scanlan – Kanana Fou High School – Football Scholarship

Fred Lauina – Tafuna High School – Football Scholarship

Lilly Tauala – Samoana High School – Volleyball Scholarship

Vincent Simanu – Fagaitua High School – Football Scholarship

Matavaitofaga Moi – Leone High School – Volleyball Scholarship

Samoan Athletes: Toilolo may provide big impact in small role for Falcons

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/

At 6-foot-8, 265 pounds, Levine Toilolo can be a blocking force and matchup nightmare. (USATSI)

Atlanta Falcons' best fit: TE Levine Toilolo, Stanford, fourth round, No. 107 overall

With all due respect to running back Steven Jackson and defensive end Osi Umenyiora, the key free agent the Atlanta Falcons convinced to sign in 2013 was their own -- future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez.

While Gonzalez certainly isn't the deep threat down the seam he was when coming out of Cal in 1997, his savvy route-running and soft hands continue to make him one of the league's toughest matchups, especially in the red zone.

With Gonzalez almost surely retiring after the 2013 season, however, the Falcons were wise to look to this position in the draft. The player they selected -- Stanford's Levine Toilolo -- won't be confused with Gonzalez anytime soon, but that doesn't mean that general manager Thomas Dimitroff doesn't have big plans for the 6-8, 265-pound junior.

Currently the tallest tight end on an NFL roster, Toilolo's great size gives the Falcons a second matchup nightmare for defenses to contend with in the red zone. In this way, the Stanford rookie won't be asked to replace Gonzalez as much as complement the 16-year veteran.

It isn't just Toilolo's physical traits that intrigue, however. He also appears to have the mindset needed to handle what is likely to be a limited role. After playing next to Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz at Stanford, Toilolo is used to playing second fiddle. He's also used to blocking in a power-based running scheme with limited opportunities to catch the ball (50 career receptions).

Most important (considering Atlanta's "other" pass-catching stars Julio Jones and Roddy White), Toilolo's value lies in the physicality and size he offers as a blocker.

Even with Matt Ryan alternately picking apart defenses through Jones, White and Gonzalez, coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter fancy their club as one that can run with power.

A season ago, the Falcons featured undrafted free-agent rookie Tommy Gallarda (Boise State) as their primary blocking tight end. Gallarda played well in nine games before a shoulder injury ended his season early. Gallarda is back healthy and the Falcons signed former Cincinnati Bengals' second-rounder Chase Coffman, but the primary backup job behind Gonzalez appears to be Toilolo's for the taking.

It will tough for any rookie to earn a starting role on a team as talented as the Falcons (though cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford have a shot), but if Toilolo can match Gallarda's grit and consistency, the fourth-round pick could play a critical role in Atlanta this year as a blocking specialist ... with perhaps a much larger role in 2014 and beyond.

Athleticism, attitude key with Atlanta's rookies (other thoughts on the Falcons' 2013 draft class):

While Toilolo could play an important niche for the Falcons as a rookie, the team is banking on either Trufant or Alford to emerge as a quality starter opposite big play veteran Asante Samuel.

Each boasts spectacular overall athleticism, and concerns about Alford's level of competition were largely put to rest after a strong performance at the Senior Bowl. Trufant was even better in Mobile, however, and took most of the first-team snaps at right cornerback during the team's rookie mini-camp.

Neither he nor Toilolo were able to participate in Atlanta's recent OTAs per NFL rules, however, as their classes at the University of Washington and Stanford, respectively, hadn't yet graduated.

Smith didn't sound too worried that the absence would impact his rookies, especially Trufant, who is communicating via Skype with Falcons' secondary coach Tim Lewis.

"Obviously, you'd like for them to be here, but [Trufant is] going to be graduating and walking with his class, which is an important milestone in his life," Smith said. "I think it's a good rule. He's going to miss some opportunities on the field, but we've got a plan in place that we've been executing. There are a lot of ways that you can communicate with technology now in terms of having meetings."

Trufant played well in his first action with the club, but so did Alford, who was operating as Samuel's top backup at left cornerback. Each possesses the straight-line speed, fluidity and confidence to handle playing early -- which is good, considering the Falcons elected to allow three of their top five cornerbacks from a year ago to leave.

The Falcons are confident that Umenyiora is going to give them the pass-rushing presence that John Abraham had provided since 2006, but the club drafted two very intriguing defenders to help, as well.

Malliciah Goodman, 6-3, 276, boasts many of the physical traits scouts are looking for and may finally live up to his potential now that his livelihood is depending on it. Stansly Maponga, 6-2, 256, likely would have been selected at least a round earlier had he enjoyed the same success during an injury-plagued junior season that he enjoyed earlier in his career.

-- The Falcons' 2013 draft class:

1st Round -- No. 22 overall -- CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
2nd Round -- No. 60 overall -- CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana
4th Round -- No. 127 overall -- DE Malliciah Goodman, Clemson
4th Round -- No. 133 overall -- TE Levine Toilolo, Stanford
5th Round -- No. 153 overall -- DE Stansly Maponga, TCU
7th Round -- No. 243 overall -- S Kemal Ishmael, Central Florida
7th Round -- No. 244 overall -- S Zeke Motta, Notre Dame
7th Round -- No. 249 overall -- QB Sean Renfree, Duke

-- Key Undrafted Free Agents Signed:

WR Martel Moore, Northern Illinois
OG Theo Goins, Central Florida
ILB Nick Clancy, Boston College

Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts, who has Samoan ties, has been named the top college softball player in the country for the second straight year.

The Amateur Softball Association of America on Tuesday night announced that Ricketts won the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.

The other finalists were Oklahoma teammate Lauren Chamberlain and Tennessee’s Raven Chavanne.

Ricketts becomes the third player to win the honor multiple times.

Texas pitcher Cat Osterman was the player of the year three times, and Washington’s Danielle Lawrie won it in 2009 and 2010.

Ricketts is 31-1 this season with a 1.22 ERA and 311 strikeouts. She’s also hitting .375 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs.

Her Sooners are the No. 1 seed in the Women’s Col- lege World Series, which starts Thursday.

Ricketts was in the territory earlier this year conducting softball clinics as well as presenting a donation of equipment to Fa’asao Marist High School. She and her sisters Samantha and Stephanie first visited the territory during Samoa Bowl IX where they conducted a girls softball clinic.

The Ricketts sisters are the granddaughters of the late Lewis and Louisa Ripley Gabbard of Tafuna and Leone. They were born and raised in San Jose California to parents Jeff and Carol Gabbard Ricketts, and say they had always expressed an interest in visiting the birth place of both their grandparents.

The Samoa Bowl IX became that opportunity, with not only visiting their grandparents’ birth place, but to learn first hand about their culture and its values — and even more, it also served as a chance give to the community that helps them to identify their heritage — being Samoan.

DE Maloata's unique journey to USC

By Johnny Curren | ESPN RecruitingNation

Looking out over the pristine turf field at Corona (Calif.) Centennial just prior to the team's recent "College Showcase" -- an amped-up version of spring practice that attracted more than 30 coaches from some of the top football programs in the country -- it was easy to notice Austin Maloata staring with a sense of wonder.

Having moved to the mainland in March from American Samoa, the Class of 2014 defensive end has undergone a meteoric rise from complete unknown to highly publicized USC pledge. And now, everything -- even the artificial playing surface in front of him -- can be a lot to take in at times.

"Back in Samoa, we don't have turf or any of this stuff," said Maloata, who prepped at Leone High School in Pago Pago, AS prior to his arrival in Southern California. "We play on rocks. There's practices where you get tackled, and you get up and your knee is all bloody. So coming here to Centennial and feeling the turf here, it was shocking. Kids over here, they have all of the sleds, they have all the bags, they have turf … they have everything. In Samoa, we use the actual players themselves as tackling dummies."

It's that background, marked by unforgiving physicality, that Maloata believes gives him an edge over many of his counterparts, and he just might have a point. After all, the success of native Samoans, both in the college ranks as well as the NFL, has been well documented.

With little recruiting attention coming his way following his junior season, however, Maloata and his father, Faleupolu, decided that he'd have a better shot at gaining notice almost 5,000 miles away in Corona, where he now resides with an uncle, as well as his two older brothers, Faleupolu Jr. and Tuivasa, both of whom attend and play football at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif.


San Diego’s Fallen Son


Junior Seau’s style of play transcended and revolutionized the linebacker position to what it is today. His illustrious 20 year career has left an unforgettable mark in NFL history, as well as San Diego. Before the NFL was what it is today, there was no player that could match the intensity, enthusiasm and larger than life presence that Junior brought.

On the field Junior terrorized opposing offenses. A highly decorated sack machine in San Diego, Seau made multiple Pro-Bowls and helped the Chargers reach its very first Super Bowl appearance in 1994. His sack celebration is one of the most memorable celebrations in NFL history, and one that quarterbacks still have nightmares about. Although many players will often imitate his intensity, no one will ever duplicate the irrepressible spirit of Junior Seau.

He was, and for some still is, the face of the San Diego Chargers. But better yet, he epitomized San Diego. Although he had a larger than life persona on the football field, off the field he humanized himself to the community. Seau dedicated his time to help the youth tackle the trials and tribulations of life, as well as mentor aspiring athletes by guiding them away from trouble. He always opened himself up, and was more interested in how others were doing. Junior was selfless and that’s what was so intriguing and likeable about him.

Junior Seau will be forever remembered as a man that gave everything to his team, his city, and for his family. On May 2nd, 2012, San Diego lost a son, leader, and legend. Selfishly we miss and want Junior back. Although now he is at peace, his smile will continue to shine bright over San Diego. Thanks for the memories, Junior.


SAHC Most Inspirational Athlete

Oceanside High quarterback Tofi Paopao signed a letter of intent with Florida International. He received a recommendation from former NFL QB Jeff Garcia. CHARLIE NEUMAN • U-T

Tofi Paopao had a great career at Oceanside High, but the senior quarterback needed a little help to land a college scholarship.  “Jeff Garcia made it happen,” Paopao said of the four-time NFL Pro Bowl quarterback.  “I worked out with him during our bye week in the playoffs. He has great charisma. He liked what he saw and said he’d try to place me.”

Wednesday, Paopao signed a letter of intent to play at Florida International.

The Golden Panthers, who went 3-9 last season and are a member of Conference USA, hired former Illinois coach Ron Turner as their head man in January. Turner led the Illini to the Big Ten title and a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2001. A quarterback guru, Turner — the brother of former Chargers coach Norv Turner — also worked 12 years in the NFL with quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Garcia.

“We send film, email and make calls,” said Oceanside coach John Carroll. “We leave messages.  “Jeff Garcia has home numbers. He knows people. Jeff’s word means something, so when he makes a recommendation, coaches listen.”

Garcia lives in San Diego now and runs Elite Sports West youth football camps, along with John Bankhead.  “Jeff runs a camp for profit, but he asked if he could work with our young quarterbacks for free,” Carroll said. “When someone of his stature volunteers his time, you take that opportunity. And obviously, it helped Tofi.”

Despite great stats, two San Diego Section championships in three years as a starter and outstanding leadership skills, Paopao had two things working against him.

He’s only 6-foot-1 in an era where schools are looking for tall QBs. And grades.  “A lot of schools showed interest, but grades were a problem,” Paopao said. “I buckled down the last two years, but I didn’t do well my freshman and sophomore years. That killed me. Florida International is taking a chance on me.

“I felt at home there. They run the West Coast offense, so it’s a good fit for me. They’re bringing me to Florida in June to learn the offense. I have a chance to be the starter next season.

“They expect me to handle my business on the field and in the classroom. I intend to do just that. I don’t want to let Oceanside, Coach Carroll or Jeff Garcia down.”


April 21, 2013 / Sunday

O le Fa’atoesega / Confession:

“Amuia le tagata ua fa’amagaloina lona solitulafono, ma ua ufitia lana agasala.” (Salamo 32:1)

A to manatunatu ifo le tagata i lona lava va feagai ma Lau Afio le Atua, e le mafai ona natia fa’aletonu ma amioga, ua taumamao ma Lou Finagalo Paia, o le upu moni, ua to’ilalo ma agasala i Ou Luma.

Fa’amolemole Tama, ia E faamagalo lo matou sese, ua fa’ateteleina ae le fa’aitiitia, atoa ma o matou vaivaiga fa’alemigao, ua ta’uleagaina ai Lou Suafa Mamalu i le lalolagi o lo’o maitau a matou amio, ma tete’e i le molimau a le ‘Au Kerisiano.

Fa’amagalo lenei aiga Lotu i tulaga o la matou auaunaga, ua le fa’aeaeaina ai Lou Silisili Ese Tama. O lo matou le ana’ana i lau Afioga, aua ua matou fa’atalale i a’oa’oga e fa’atonu ma fa’asino ai le atiina’e o Lou Malo , ua le fa’alogologo fo’i i le ta’ita’iga o Lou Agaga Paia, i le fa’afiapoto ma fa’asausili o matou uiga ma amioga, e le maua ai se filemu ma se nofo fealofani i le Tino o Keriso.

Fa’amagalo mai le Atua e, le fautuagamasesei o Lau auauna ma lenei Ekalesia vaogata ma le vaivai, ma ua tatau ai lava ona fa’afesiligia le fa’amaoni o lo matou alofa ia te Oe, ona lo matou leaga ua E silafia i lea aso ma lea aso.

Silasila mai ia le ALII e, ua pei o se afi mumu lo matou alofa naunauta’i e le mafia ona fa’amatalaina, a ua vaivai lava le tino e tete’e i fa’aoso’osoga ma le tu’inanau. Ia E fa’amagalo mai ona o le Toto o Iesu Keriso, talia le auega o matou agaga, ua matou ole ma valaau atu ai, i le salamo fa’amaoni faatasi ai ma le tatalo o lo matou ALII Fa’aola… The Lord’s Prayer: Mataio / Matthew 6:9-13… AMENE!

-Rev. Faafouina Solomona: of the First Samoan Congregational Christian Church of San Diego, CA, “Malamalama o Samoa”.



Student-Focused Campaign Asks Campus Administrators, Higher Education Leaders,
and Policymakers to "Wake-up" and Pay Attention to AAPI Students who are the "Changing Face of America"
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE) - the leading AAPI student- and research-focused organizations, respectively - today kicked off a national public awareness effort dedicated to increasing access and completion among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, the fastest-growing, but often the most overlooked and underserved student population at U.S. colleges and universities.


The new campaign, "We're the Changing Face of America," is a multi-layered, grassroots effort working through strategic partnerships with three of the nation's Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs): De Anza College, City College of San Francisco, and South Seattle Community College. In addition to the campaign's AANAPISI partners, other supporters at business, civil rights, community-based, and student- and youth-advocacy organizations are playing an important role in sharing information and messages. For a list of campaign partners, click here.


In addition, further engagement and outreach will be made via the campaign's newly-launched website, The site serves as an online community for students and campaign partners by providing fact sheets, template outreach materials, and various tools and resources. Students, community leaders and campus representatives are encouraged to lend their voice to the campaign by submitting content for the Changing Face of America blog.


The campaign supports the Partnership for Equity in Education through Research (PEER) project by APIASF and CARE, which launched in June 2012 to help improve educational outcomes for the AAPI student population. The Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, USA Funds, and the Walmart Foundation each donated grants to the PEER project. Later this year, the PEER project will begin releasing a series of reports, through the "We're the Changing Face of America" campaign, that shares new data from the institutional partners. These studies will shed light on the impact of promising practices and targeted interventions that promote access and success for low-income AAPI students.


For the campaign press release, click here. To learn how to become a campaign partner or for more information about the "We're the Changing Face of America" campaign, visit Also, follow the campaign on Facebook ( and Twitter (


Bengals re-sign Rey Maualuga

The Cincinnati Bengals announced the re-signing of linebacker Rey Maualuga on Monday. 

A source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Maualuga agreed to a two-year, $6.5 million deal.

Maualuga was a second-round pick from Southern California in 2009. He has had some rough times during his transition to starter, with coach Marvin Lewis challenging Maualuga and quarterback Andy Dalton to become more vocal leaders last season. Pleased with how they responded, Lewis gave both of them a "C" to wear on their jerseys, designating them team captains.

The Bengals went on to make the playoffs for the second straight season, losing to Houston in the opening round.

Maualuga, 26, finished second on the Bengals with 122 tackles last season, which marked a career best for the fourth-year linebacker. He has 348 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions in his career.

The Bengals have re-signed four of their defensive players who were eligible for free agency -- Maualuga and defensive ends Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry


Kaluka Maiava to the Oakland Raiders

Kaluka Maiava (born December 27, 1986) is an American football player who plays linebacker for the Cleveland Browns. He played college football at the University of Southern California (USC).

Maiava attended Baldwin High School in Wailuku, Hawaii on the island of Maui. His junior year, he had 157 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. Before his senior season, Maiava nearly transferred to Kahuku High School on the island of Oahu, where his uncle was an assistant coach, to get more attention at a program known for its NFL alumni; however, his strong performance in football camps on the mainland influenced him to remain at Baldwin. His senior year, he had 147 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 8 forced fumbles and 5 blocked kicks, as well as a punt return for a TD. As a student, he achieved a 3.6 grade point average and an SAT score of 1010 (old scoring system). He modeled himself after Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Considered the top recruit coming out of Hawaii and one of the top prospects at the linebacker position, Maiava was heavily recruited. A number of major programs offered him scholarships, including UCLA, Washington, Oregon, Utah, BYU, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona and UTEP; however, he was not strongly recruited by the University of Hawaii, then under June Jones. His final three choices were USC, UCLA and Colorado. In the summer before his senior year, while attending camps on the mainland, he was invited to make an official visit to UCLA. Impressed by their facilities and coaching staff, he made a soft verbal commitment to UCLA in July 2004. However, Maiava decided to visit other programs and eventually drawn to USC, where he was attracted to the energy of the players and coaches, the program’s popularity and the Hollywood atmosphere. He committed to USC on October 11, 2004; he joined the same class as fellow Trojans linebacker Brian Cushing. He is the first player from Maui to play for USC.

In February 2005, the Council of the County of Maui honored him with a resolution congratulating him for all of his high school football achievements.


Bonner, Seau, honored by Southern Conference coaches

By Nick Pellegrino
© East County

EL CAJON (11-30-12) — Highlighted by sophomore quarterback CHRIS BONNER and linebacker IAN SEAU, eight members of the Grossmont College football team were honored following selection to the all-National Division Southern Conference football team at the recent Griffins team banquet.

Bonner, a Clairemont High product who finished second in the conference with 247.0 passing yards per contest, received the prestigious JOE ROTH AWARD. Bonner was also a second-team pick by coaches on the all-conference team.

Meanwhile, Seau was honored with the MAUGA DEFENSIVE AWARD. Seau, a transfer from Kansas State via La Costa Canyon High, led the state with 19 quarterback sacks and thus was tabbed the conference's Defensive Player of the Year.

The only other Griffins freshman honored on first-team offense was 6-foot-5 wide receiver NICKOLAS KURTZ (Valhalla), who reeled in 50 passes for 797 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games. A second-team berth went to running back ALEX CORNIST (Olympian).

On defense, frosh cornerback KWEISHI BROWN (Valhalla) landed a first-team berth, while inside linebacker DONNIE WALSH (St. Augustine) gained a second-team honor.

Special teams was dominated by Grossmont. Sophomore ANDRES CARRILLO (Bel Air) was tabbed placekicker of the year for a first-team selection, while a second-team berth went to punter RHYS FELTON (Australia).

Nevertheless, MICHAEL SCALES (West Hills) was tabbed the team's special teams player of the year in discussions by Grossmont head coach MIKE JORDAN and his staff.

Offensive tackle ISAIAS LARA of Tahquitz High in Hemet was named Griffins team captain.

The Griffins finished with a 5-5 record this season, yet were in bowl contention until the final day of the season.


Seau goes from SDSU to Nevada

By Bill Dickens
© East County

RENO, Nev. (1-24-13) — Never believe a sure thing is what it appears to be.

Those who recognize Grossmont College redshirt freshman IAN SEAU as a blue chip linebacker-DE were sure that the La Costa Canyon High-Kansas State transfer would advance to a higher level.

Seau, a JC All-State and All-American as a member of the Griffins this past season, has surrendered a free ride to SDSU in favor of a scholarship to the University of Nevada.

Seau collected 19 sacks to lead the state, and was Grossmont's leading tackler


Samoan Athletes bright star with Purdue...  Samantha Marie Arasi Epenesa

High School: Named as second team AVCA/Under Armour High School All-American for 2011-12 … ranked No. 33 among’s Top 250 Senior Aces … a Fab 50 selection by Volleyball Magazine … garnered Large School Volleyball Player of the Year honors from the Alton Telegraph each of her last three seasons … earned All-Metro Volleyball Player of the Year honors from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2011 after leading team with 346 kills and 66 aces and ranking third in digs (249) … tabbed as a PrepVolleyball All-American while also earning first team all-state, all-Southwestern Conference and first team Post-Dispatch acclaim as a junior, after tallying a school record 406 kills … a Champaign News Gazette second team all-state selection as a sophomore, while also earning first team all-conference, team MVP and PrepVolleyball Soph79 accolades … set school record for career kills (1,250) and ranks second in career aces (184) and third in career block assists (151) … led team to four Southwestern Conference, four regional and three sectional titles as well as a third-place state finish in 2010 … played volleyball and softball as a freshman … played club volleyball for the High Performance STL Gold team.

Personal: Given name is Samantha Marie Arasi Epenesa … born Nov. 11, 1993 … parents are Epenesa and Stephanie Epenesa. Father played football at Iowa and mother played volleyball at Iowa Wesleyan … has three brothers, Andrew, Eric and Iosefatu


Draft Zone Spotlight: Kurt Taufa’asau, DT, Wyoming University

Draft Zone Spotlight: Kurt Taufa’asau, DT, Wyoming

Big Kurt Tuafa’asau stands at 6’3 and 280 pounds and is fast for a big guy. I have been told by numerous people that they believe he can run in the late 4.8′s in the forty yard dash. He is a very big kid that has a great motor and is a gamer. He plays every down and could be an interesting player brought into a camp this year. If brought into the right situation, Kurt could shock some people. You cannot teach his motor skills. He is very impressive and seems like a very good kid. I was able to get an interview with Kurt and I thought I would show the world about Mr. Tuafa’asau, check him out.

How many teams were recruiting you coming out of high school and how did you make your decision?

Coming out of high school in Samoa, there was only one team that recruited me and that was a junior college from New Mexico (New Mexico Military Institute).

Has it always been your dream to be an NFL football player?

Growing up, I wasn’t interested in football. I wanted to be a soldier in the army just like my father but it wasn’t until me and my dad started watching NFL football on Sundays after church and throwing the football around was when I started to fall in love and have big goals and dreams of becoming an NFL player someday.

Who was your favorite NFL team growing up, and did you have a player you rooted for?

My favorite team growing up was the St. Louis Rams, and I was rooting for the Rams because Kurt Warner was there. I started rooting for him because we have the same first names, and I said to myself that one day I want to be a quarterback just like Kurt Warner but I grew to become a defensive tackle.

At your position, how do you break down film, please inform our readers what you look for when breaking down film?

As a defensive lineman, I break down film by studying my opponent’s strengths and weakness. For example, I look to see if my opponent that I am going up against is slow or fast off the line, do they lean heavy on their toes or do they put less weight on their hands. What will be the best pass rush move to do on this guy, and who is the weakest link on the o-line so we/I can exploit it with stunts and games. Can we beat him off the line with speed or bull rush? After we study our opponents then we start with what is there favorite formation, favorite play, and what keys do they show that gives us a clue that this play is coming run or pass.

What is the best accolade/award you have ever received from playing football?

When I was at my junior college I was named 1st team All- American WSFL after my sophomore year there, then I received a most improved defensive lineman award spring 2012.

Now that your college football eligibility is up what’s your next move?

My next move is train and prepare for my pro day and the NFL draft in April.

When did you really feel you had a good chance of making your dream come true?

The beginning of my senior season when my coaches were telling me to keep up the great work that I am doing on the field because I have caught some teams attention when they came on there scouting visit, and that the scouts love what I have on film

Super Bowl 2013: San Francisco 49ers lineman Mike Iupati's long road to NFL

Mike Iupati remembers carefree days playing touch rugby and hide-and-seek with his friends in the village of Vaitogi, American Samoa, only to find himself at age 14 living in the garage of a relative in Garden Grove.

He knew little English and even less about football.

Eleven years later, Iupati, called "a gentle giant" by center Jonathan Goodwin, is an All-Pro guard for the 49ers. In contrast to his violent, brute-force style of blocking, Iupati (6-foot-5, 331 pounds) has a cultural predisposition toward kindness and humility.

"A lot of people say I have a big heart, but that's just a part of me," Iupati said. "I care about others, and I want them to have what I have, experience what I have now. That's how I see it.

Among the storylines leading up to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans will be that of Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher. Homeless as a youth in Memphis, Tenn., his rise to an NFL star has been chronicled in both a book and movie entitled "The Blind Side."

Johnny Nansen, a Samoan assistant coach at Idaho who stumbled upon Iupati at a barbecue while on a recruiting trip, sees the 49ers' "Big Mike" as no less remarkable.

"By accident I ran into him, and the rest is history," Nansen said by phone between recruiting stops at his current job at the University of Washington. "Look at what he's doing with his life. It's almost like a movie when you think about where he came from."


Wazzu pulls No. 2 from American Samoa

6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive tackle Daniel Etuale (Pago Pago, American Samoa/Samoana) has committed to sign with Washington State, multiple sources report. He was in Pullman, Wash. this weekend for an official visit.

According to 247Sports, Etuale was also recruited by Hawaii, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington and officially visited the Warriors on Dec. 14th.

He is the second prospect from American Samoa to pick the Cougars during this recruiting cycle. Defensive end Emmitt Su'a-Kalio (Pago Pago, American Samoa/Tafuna) verballed in December.

Including their mid-year additions, the Cougars have 27 players for the Class of 2013.
Iupati Joins Staley in Pro Bowl
Posted by Alex Espinoza


It was just a matter of time before the word got out. Mike Iupati is really good.

The third-year player was selected to his first Pro Bowl on Wednesday, as he was recognized for his season-long punishment of opposing defenses in the trenches.

“I’m very grateful and very blessed,” Iupati said. “Credit to my teammates and everybody, especially the front line – they sacrificed, too. Also a credit to our coaching staff, (Mike) Solari, coach (Paul) Wulff and coach (Tim) Drevno for preparing us every week, every day, to go out there and execute our plays.”

Another key element to Iupati’s rise in the NFL ranks has been tackle Joe Staley, who was named to his second straight Pro Bowl. The two big fellows have solidified the left side of the 49ers offensive line this season, helping turn the unit into one of the team’s biggest strengths.

“It’s paid off pretty good,” Iupati said of playing alongside Staley. “He’s just a great player and teammate to play next to. He helped me out a lot my rookie year, last year as well and especially this year, too. We work well together.”

The 49ers racked up a league-high nine Pro Bowlers this season, but unfortunately Iupati’s teammate and good friend Anthony Davis didn’t get the nod at right tackle. Davis, who was named an alternate for the NFL’s annual all-star game, has grown close to Iupati since both players were selected in the first round of the 2010 draft.

“He should have made it, in my eyes,” Iupati said, while later adding he has family in Hawaii and California who could make the trip to Honolulu for the game. “All of our starting five should have made it, but it’s tough.”

Iupati makes his first trip to the Pro Bowl as a starter. He is part of an offensive line that helped the team rush for 2,362 yards this season, ranking fourth in the NFL. The 2,362 rushing yards rank seventh in franchise history and are the most by San Francisco since 1998 (2,544). Iupati and the offensive line were awarded the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award in Weeks 5, 7 and 12.

Seau voted conference's No. 1 defensive performer

© East County Sports
EL CAJON (11-15-12) — Eight Grossmont College players have been named to the prestigious National Division Southern Conference All-League team.

At the top of the list is Griffins freshman linebacker IAN SEAU, who led the state with 19 sacks and thus was tabbed the Southern Conference Defensive of Player of the Year. Seau is a transfer from Kansas State via La Costa Canyon High School

Kelly: Te'o should get Heisman if Notre Dame wins

SOUTH BEND, Ind. >> Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly says linebacker Manti Te'o "should win the Heisman Trophy provided we continue to win."

The unbeaten (11-0) Fighting Irish ascended to No. 1 in the major polls today, a day after beating Wake Forest 38-0 and the Laie native and team captain has been a big part of the effort.

At his weekly press conference Sunday, Kelly said, "The only thing I talk to him about (the Heisman) is that we have the hope that we'll be in New York together in a couple of weeks."

The Heisman Trophy announcement is scheduled for Dec. 8 in New York.

Kelly said, "I'll push for him, I think he (Te'o) should win the Heisman, but he's not really focused on that."

Heisman Trophy balloting begins this week as Fighting Irish finish the regular season Saturday at Southern California.

Only one primarily defensive player, Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson in 1997, has won the Heisman in its 77 years


Homer Mauga

Even though this team may be the worst BYU has faced, the Vandals' defense performs well in areas that BYU sometimes struggles — such as interceptions, fumbles and quarterback sacks.

Senior safety Homer Mauga is a star on this defense who creates plays when they are needed. Mauga has had 56 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one quarterback sack this season.

The leading tackler for the Vandals is Gary Walker with 76 tackles. Walker has also caused one interception and one forced fumble.

As with many teams BYU has faced this year, there is always a player who excels at sacking the quarterback — it's someone Riley Nelson should be aware of at all times. That guy this week is Quinton Bradley, who has four quarterback sacks and four quarterback hurries. He is also credited with 22 tackles.

BYU running back Jamaal Williams expects the Vandals' defense to play hard and still provide a challenge for the Cougars.

“I am expecting them to come out hard and play with everything they got,” Williams said. “They play every game as physical as they can and they have a decent defense. It’s going to be a good test for us.”

While this should still be an easy win for the Cougars, it will be a good chance for them to improve and try to execute one of their best games of football this season.

Nelson acknowledged this will be an easier game but knows it will still be a fight and expects Idaho to be a tough opponent.

“I can tell they play hard,” Nelson said. “I know how hard it is to fight for four quarters but they play tough. They are not going to come in here and lay down.”


Grossmont linebacker Seau:
Just call him the 'Sackmaster'


By Bill Dickens
© East County

EL CAJON (10-19-12) — There is a general sigh of relief around the state community colleges this week as Grossmont College draws a bye.

That means Griffins freshman linebacker,
6-foot-3, 240-pound IAN SEAU — the state’s sackmaster – will be inactive this week. 

For the fourth time in seven games, Seau earned National Division Southern Conference defensive player of the week after his trashing in the Griffins’ 26-23 win over Golden West. In the win over the Rustlers, Seau racked up 11 solo tackles, including 3 for losses, 3 sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.

He previously earned player of week honors for his performance against College of the Desert with 8 tackles, 5 for loss, and 5 sacks. Seau’s domination continued against San Diego Mesa when he rolled up 8 tackles, 5 for loss and 4 sacks.

His rampage resumed against Orange Coast where he rolled up 12 tackles, 4 for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

With three games remaining Seau has 56 tackles (40 solo), 22 for losses, 2 forced fumbles, one fumble recovery to go along with his state leading 16.5 sacks


Soldiers For Christ Halftime

Halftime honoring and recognition of former Grossmont College(JC) Head Coach for more than 30-yrs: Dave Jordan. The Samoan "Soldiers for Christ" youth lead by Josh Leasau.. son of Pastor Joseph Leasau of the 1st Samoan Assembly of God... Host/ Sponsor by: REV. Benson Mauga of the
Samoans love rocking the long hair

The linemen banged shoulder pads and helmets, pushing and shoving, knocking each other to the ground from the first whistle. Helix High’s William Milo, being 5 feet 9, 300 pounds and one of the best players in the county, was responsible for most of the flattening.

Knowing looks of respect were exchanged between Milo and his Valhalla sparring partner, but not a single syllable of smack talk.

Finally, during a break, the Valhalla player broke the silence.

“Love the hair, man. Love the hair.”  To which Milo replied, “Thank you.”

Long, tumbling locks of hair among Samoan football players are as much a part of the Polynesian culture as tattoos, rugby and lava-lava sarongs. Milo qualifies. His kinky-curly mane sticks out of the back of his helmet like loose straw

Read Article


Arizona football: Tutogi, younger brother expect to make contact

The Tutogi brothers will almost certainly meet at some point  Saturday, a navy No. 31 jersey colliding with a white No. 50 jersey going full-speed.

Arizona's Taimi Tutogi will forget, for a second, about the 20 years that connect him to his younger brother Thomas, Washington's star linebacker.

"He's still wearing the 'W' on his chest, right? I've got to treat him like anybody else," Taimi Tutogi said. "At the end of the play, I'm going to help him up. … He's my little brother. I love him to death."

Both have mattered, in a big way, to their teams through the first half of the 2012 season.

Playing both fullback and defensive end, Taimi Tutogi has been perhaps the Wildcats' most versatile player. In six games, the senior from Chula Vista, Calif., has registered one tackle and recovered a fumble, and caught eight passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. His athletic spin-and-grab of a Matt Scott pass in last week's loss to Stanford was perhaps the most impressive play of the first six weeks of the Wildcats' season.

Thomas Tutogi, a junior linebacker, is Washington's most prolific tackler. Through six games, the Southwestern College transfer has 38 tackles

Read Article


EWU Post-Game: Homer Mauga

SENIOR STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER HOMER MAUGA was granted  another year of eligibility and came back to lead a Vandal defensive effort that limited the Eastern Washington Eagle offense to just 20 points despite a punchless Vandal offensive effort. On the night Mauga picked off an Eagle pass (2-yard return) and recorded three tackles.

To view Idaho linebacker Homer Mauga (three tackles and an interception on the night) addressing the media following the Vandals' frustrating 20-3 home loss to Eastern Washington, click the link below:

Post-Game Interview: Watch Video
Vandals finally win, Farquhar earns WAC honors

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Not only did Idaho pick up their first win of the season, and first conference win, their place kicker picked up praise from the WAC.

Trey Farquhar earns the Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors after kicking four field goals, and accounting for 14 of Idaho's 26 points in the victory. The senior split the uprights from 32, 39, 53, and 55 yards out en route to Idaho picking up the elusive victory.

"It's a good feeling, you know, I mean we've been going on a losing streak and it just feels terrible, you know? So, after this when it's just, man, can't say too much. Too excited," said senior linebacker Homer Mauga.

"It's been several months since we've been able to celebrate after a a dadgum game, and we're currently in first place in the WAC Conference race, or got a share of it, so working on number two that's where we're at," added head coach Robb Akey.

Victory number two could be just around the corner. The Idaho Vandals hit the road for Texas State to take on the Bobcats who are just opening their conference schedule. Kickoff time is scheduled for 5 pm (MTN).
Manti Te'o's two interceptions key #11 Notre Dame's triumph over 18th ranked Michigan
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Manti Te’o had two interceptions as No. 11 Notre Dame picked off five Michigan passes and backup quarterback Tommy Rees sparked the Fighting Irish offense in a 13-6 win over the 18th-ranked Wolverines Saturday night.

Denard Robinson, who amassed 948 yards of total offense in victories over the Irish past two years, wasn’t as effective this time as the Irish repeatedly forced him into mistakes. He threw four interceptions in the first half, then lost a fumble at the Notre Dame 8-yard line on the first drive of the second half.

The victory by Notre Dame (4-0) ended a streak of three straight games in which Michigan (2-2) beat the Irish in the final 27 seconds.

Notre Dame didn’t give the Wolverines a chance to pull it out this time, running out the clock after a Brendan Gibbons field goal with 3:27 left in the game made it 13-6.

Rees scored the game’s only touchdown on a quarterback draw late in the first half and engineered a late drive that ended in Kyle Brindza’s 39-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 13-3 cushion.


Mariota, Keli'ikipi, Buckner help lead 2nd ranked Oregon to win over Washington St.

SEATTLE (AP) - De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner sandwiched touchdown runs around Avery Patterson's 34-yard interception return for a score, and No. 2 Oregon used a third-quarter scoring blitz to shake Washington State for a 51-26 win on Saturday night.

Playing for the first time outside the Eugene city limits, the Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) looked shaky at times in the first half and led just 23-19 at the break, but put together a nearly flawless third quarter to run away from the Cougars.

Thomas capped an 18-play drive to start the half with a 4-yard TD, then Patterson stepped in front of Connor Halliday's pass for Oregon's third interception return for a TD in two games. After Washington State (2-3, 0-2) went three-and-out, Barner scored on a 10-yard run to cap the 21-point spurt in just over 4 minutes.

Saint Louis graduate, Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Marcus Mariota went 21-32, 168 yds, TD, INT with 54 yards rushing and one score on the ground. Waianae alum, Defensive Tackle Wade Keli'ikipi had two of Oregon's 7 sacks, while true freshman DT DeForest Buckner of Punahou recorded his first career sack.
No. 3 LSU defeats winless Idaho 63-14

Idaho linebacker Homer Mauga (55) tries to tackle LSU wide receiver Kadron Boone (86) as he scores a touchdown on a pass play in the first half of their NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Number has deep meaning for Mauga

Homer Mauga wears 55 to honor Junior Seau. 

It’s a quiet gesture of respect, and one reserved for more than just family.

For his senior year at Idaho, linebacker Homer Mauga has changed his jersey number from 19 to 55 to honor his cousin Junior Seau.  A former star NFL linebacker, Seau committed suicide on May 2.

Seau’s 55 was retired by the San Diego Chargers after his death. At Idaho, Mauga will wear the number while fellow linebacker Robert Siavii said he’ll put a small 55 sticker inside his helmet during games.

“I was heartbroken too,” Siavii said. “I’m not even his family member, but as soon as I found out, I got 55 on (the back) of my helmet. I just dedicate this season to him too because he was a big inspiration growing up.”

Seau’s death came almost a year after Mauga was at Seau’s house in Oceanside, Calif., for a Memorial Day celebration. Seau’s mother and Mauga’s mother are sisters, and the holiday was spent with lots of family.

“Coming this year, it was close to Memorial Day too,” Mauga said.

“It was just a shocking moment. I called my dad that morning and just heard him in tears. Ever since then my parents have been with his parents and they’ve just been continuing to pray for them.”  In the months since, Siavii said Mauga has rarely talked about losing his cousin. Still, Siavii can tell it’s taken a toll.

“It’s family. Once a family member is gone, you’re heart is broken,” Siavii said. “That’s exactly what he shows.”  Eleven days after Seau died, Idaho receiver Ken McRoyal was shot and killed, adding an additional layer of shock and grief for Mauga.

The Vandals’ outside linebacker said he’s devoting the season to his cousin and McRoyal, whom he referred to as his brother.

Homer Mauga wears 55 to honor Junior Seau.

Follow Josh Wright’s Tweets @SR_joshwright
Marcus Mariota named Oregon Ducks starting quarterback

Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota has been named the starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks.

The Oregonian broke the news via a team source this morning, and the selection was officially confirmed by the team's Twitter feed at 10:10 a.m.

Mariota beat out third-year sophomore Bryan Bennett during a nearly eight-month competition that began in January after Oregon's all-time touchdown passes leader, Darron Thomas, decided to forgo his senior year to enter the NFL Draft.

Mariota will become the first freshman quarterback to start the season for the Ducks in 21 years. UO hosts Arkansas State Sept. 1.   Read article

No regrets for Te'o

SOUTH BEND, Ind. » The Kahuku Stretch is a bike path about two miles long, flanked by an undulating ranch and mountains to the left and beach to the right. It's always hot and humid, even at 6 a.m., when Manti Te'o set off for a run and greeted his just-waking father upon return, shirt soaked through.

Those were mornings in paradise on summer break in Hawaii, followed by afternoon sprints up stairs or a hill. At meal time, yes, he would down fried wontons at Laie Chop Suey. Just not many. He would eat his father's delectable prime rib, but only one serving, not two. He altogether swore off his mother's desserts.

Te'o is maybe the best defensive recruit in Notre Dame history. The senior is perhaps the best linebacker in the country, and he refused NFL millions last offseason for a chance to recast his legacy. He knows that chance is his last, and he has acted like it.  Read more


Congressman Faleomavaega today congratulated Ms. Tumua Anae on her recent selection on the U.S. Women’s Water Polo team that will be competing at the 2012 Olympic Games that will be held in London, England from July 27 – August 12, 2012.
Tumua, born in Honolulu, Hawaii, is one of 13 players selected on the U.S. women’s team and will be one of two goalies that will be competing against 8 other countries. Currently, the U.S. women’s team is top ranked in the world and are the Pan American gold medalists. However, the U.S. has yet to win gold at the Olympic Games since women’s water polo was included as a sport competition in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
She graduated from Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, California.
After high school, Tumua joined her sister, Jordan, who was already on the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans women’s water polo team. Tumua played for the Trojans for four years beginning as a true freshman and in her senior year, she helped her team become the Division I national champs at the 2010 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship. She was three-time All-American and graduated from USC with a degree in broadcast journalism.
Tumua is the daughter of Dr. Allen Anae whose family is from Falelatai and Le’auva’a, and Annabel Porter Anae from Auasi and Manu’a. She is the granddaughter of Robert Francis Porter and Sopo Moeva Tuiolosega, and Fa’amika Anae and Alice Anae.
“I want to congratulate Tumua on her selection on Team USA women’s water polo team. I know she has been chosen to represent her country because of her hard work and determination in the pool. Water polo is one of the most difficult sports requiring a combination of stamina, strength, and an ability to swim for long periods of time. Tumua’s success on the collegiate level and experience in international competition has prepared her for the Olympics,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“To the best of my knowledge, Tumua may be the only Samoan selected on the U.S. Olympic team. She is one of 530 athletes U.S. athletes that will be competing in 25 different sport competitions in London this summer. Remarkably, she is one of few athletes selected from amongst a pool of thousands of the best in the country. Tumua’s selection and participation in the Olympics speaks volumes of her skills and abilities. It is such an amazing achievement and proud moment not only for herself but especially for her family and our Samoan people.”
“According to the family, Tumua and her sister began swimming with their father at a very young age. They eventually started competing in swim clubs until high school where they were convinced by their peers into trying water polo. The girls were so active and fond of the sport they decided to take it full time. The rest is history.”
“I want to take this opportunity to recognize and congratulate Tumua’s parents, Dr. Allen and Annabel, and the family for supporting their daughter and for all her success in water polo and in life. We will be cheering for Tumua and her teammates to bring the U.S.’s first gold in women’s water polo in Olympic history,” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.

Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that by invitation of the Se’au family, he will be speaking during the final funeral service for Junior Se’au this Friday in Oceanside, California. Funeral plans for Junior Se’au, according to the family, include a private viewing and family service this evening, May 10, and final service on Friday, May 11, followed with burial at Eternal Hills in Oceanside. Following the burial, the Chargers organization and the City of San Diego will open Qualcomm Stadium to pay a special tribute to Junior Se’au who played for 20 seasons in the NFL, including 13 for the San Diego Chargers. The event will be open to the public.
“Junior Se’au’s sudden death was a tragedy that shocked everyone who knew and admired him. I was very saddened upon hearing news of Junior’s passing,” Faleomavaega said. “I want to thank Junior’s parents, Tiaina and Luisa, and the Se’au family for inviting me to speak at Junior’s final service on Friday. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to pay tribute so such a special young man and son of American Samoa.”
“As family, friends, teammates, and fans gather to pay respects to Junior this week, and as the country mourns the loss of this truly inspirational young leader and Samoan man, I would like to extend to all, especially to Junior’s parents and children, our heartfelt sympathy on behalf of Samoans everywhere” Faleomavaega continued.
“For a Samoan boy with roots in a small place called American Samoa to become an NFL superstar and national icon is a remarkable feat that I felt it important for me to also pay a special tribute to Junior in the House Chamber – to acknowledge some of his outstanding achievements and major contributions to society and people of Samoa,” Faleomavaega said.
On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, one week after Se’au’s death, Congressman Faleomavaega delivered a speech on the House Floor, paying a special tribute to Junior Se’au. Next, on his right and displayed prominently on an easel on the House Floor, was a poster-sized photo of Junior Se’au with Faleomavaega and Paramount Chief, Afioga i le Maoputasi Mauga of Pago Pago, American Samoa. The photo was taken in 2006 during the annual celebration marking the relationship between Pago Pago, American Samoa and Oceanside, California as sister-cities that was attended by both Afioga Mauga and Faleomavaega.
Following is the complete text of Faleomavaega’s speech on the House Floor.
Mr. Speaker:
I rise today with deep sympathy in order to offer my condolences to the family and friends of a beloved, son, father, brother, uncle, leader, a dear friend, an NFL Great and a son of American Samoa, Junior Seau, whose life ended tragically on the morning of May 2nd, 2012 in Oceanside, California.
It is a very sad time for not only the national sports world but also for our Polynesian community. We have lost a Samoan brother who was an icon in football and a pioneer for many of our Polynesian sons who are in the National Football League today. A beautiful life has come to a tragic end, yet we remember Junior as a young man full of life, a charismatic leader able to light up any room, a devoted son and father and community leader. We remember the strength of this unique individual, a true Samoan warrior.
Junior Seau was born Tiaina Baul Seau Jr. on January 19, 1969 in San Diego, California to American Samoan parents, Mr. Tiaina Seau, Sr. of the village of Aunu’u, and Mrs. Luisa Mauga Seau of the village of Aoa. After Junior was born, the family returned to American Samoa where Junior would grow up for several years before returning to the San Diego area.
Junior attended Oceanside High School where he lettered in football, basketball, as well as track and field for the Oceanside Pirates. In football, he was a starter at linebacker and tight end and received numerous awards for his achievements as a student-athlete. In 1987, the year he graduated, Parade Magazine selected Seau to its high school All-American team. He was also named California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) San Diego Section Defensive Player of the Year, All-North County, Avocado League Offensive Player of the Year, as well as being named to California’s all-academic team with a 3.6 grade-point average.
After graduating high school, Seau played for the University of Southern California Trojans from 1987 to 1990, and in 2009 would be inducted into the USC Hall of Fame.
In the 1990 NFL Draft, Junior was drafted in the First Round and 5th Overall Pick by the San Diego Chargers. Seau immediately became the heart and soul of the Chargers defense, earning the nickname "Tasmanian Devil" for his passion and explosive athletic skill on the field. In the locker room and on the field, Seau had an innate ability to motivate his teammates. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and was voted the Chargers’ Most Inspirational Player in 1997 and 2002.
Junior played in 12 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1991 to 2002, the most of any player in Chargers history and tied for the third-longest streak ever in the NFL. He was also selected All-Pro six times in his career and he led the Chargers to their first ever Super Bowl appearance in 1995.
After 13 years in San Diego, he played three years for the Miami Dolphins where he received the Miami Dolphins’ Don Shula Leadership Award for two consecutive years. After only one day of retirement in 2006, he answered the call by the New England Patriots and became Defensive Co-Captain during the Patriots’ 18-0 season that took the team to the Super Bowl in 2008. Junior finally retired in 2010, having played 20 seasons in the NFL and finishing with a career 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks, 18 interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 21 pass deflections.
Junior Seau is widely acknowledged as one of the best linebackers in NFL history, but his passion and success in football was paralleled in his community involvement and in his work off the field.
In 1992, Junior established the Junior Seau Foundation, giving San Diego-area youth ongoing support for programs that inspire them to face life’s challenges with enthusiasm, hope, and dignity. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed nearly $4 million to organizations providing services to children and young adults, including over $800,000 in scholarships through the Scholars of Excellence program and over $330,000 in Junior’s “Shop with A Jock” program, which provides for underprivileged youth to shop alongside a professional or college athlete for Christmas gifts for their families. In April 2007, the Wall Street Journal ranked the Junior Seau Foundation as the 13th largest Professional Athlete Foundation based on assets.
As much as he was an outstanding football player, Junior will also be remembered as a humanitarian, as a supporter for those who needed help the most, as a dear friend, and as a motivational figure. He was a charismatic leader who could not walk into a room without having an effect on those around him. He was loved by everyone who knew him, and his magnetism both on and off the field impacted people nationwide and any individual he encountered.
When one speaks of Samoans in the NFL, Mr. Speaker, Junior Seau is one of the first names that come to mind. Junior was an ambassador for Asian and Pacific American, and through his success he was able to broaden the public’s understanding and appreciation of our Polynesian people. Reaching the NFL is a dream of many young men, but Junior Seau gave young Samoan men an image of success in the league – something that they could aspire to.
In closing today, I would like to offer words of comfort to the Seau family, especially Mr. Tiaina Seau Sr. and Mrs. Luisa Seau, Junior’s parents, as well as Junior’s children, his siblings, and his extended family, or as we say in Samoan, his aiga.
In the Book of Romans, Chapter 12, Verse 15 we are called to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” In all of Junior’s amazing accomplishments throughout his life, we have rejoiced with the Seau family, sharing your joy. And now in this time of great sorrow, we stand with you, though with heavy hearts, sharing in your grief.
Ia manuia lau faigamalaga Junior.

7 Things Every Athlete Should Know About College Financial Aid

April 11th, 2012 - by JC Kibbey

Applying for college financial aid is one of the few things in life that may be even more confusing and complicated than taxes. It involves getting together loads of financial information, learning an alphabet soup of acronyms, and understanding how the financial aid system works.
Athletes that are ready to compete at the college level may be too busy with homework, practice, camps, and workouts to sit down for hours and study every last detail of the financial aid process. But to give yourself the best chance of using athletics to pay for your education and get ahead in life, it is crucial that you have at least a basic understanding of how financial aid works.
That’s why we’ve assembled this handy guide of 7 essential things about the financial aid process and how to get the best possible package to help pay for your education.
1. Good Academics Create Financial Aid Opportunities
A tiny, select group of athletes gets a full ride to college through an athletic scholarship alone (more on this later). But don’t count on it – even if you’re great, it’s unlikely. The better your GPA and standardized test scores, the more financial aid opportunities will be available to you in college. Some may be from the university, some may be from the state, your high school, or even nonprofit organizations. But no matter where you’re looking for scholarships, you’ll have the best chance if your academics are solid. Any scholarship you can’t apply for because you’re not academically qualified is money you threw out the window – don’t do it!
2. Know your EFC
EFC is one of those alphabet soup acronyms we were just talking about. It stands for “expected family contribution,” meaning the amount of money the Department of Education expects your family to pay towards your education. It is determined using a complex formula involving your family’s income and many of their tax details. You can read more about it by clicking here. Make sure to identify any tax exemptions and other financial details that your family qualified for, so you can get the most accurate EFC. If your family has an accountant or financial advisor, you may want to discuss this with them.
3. Complete Your FAFSA on Time
The FAFSA is another mess of letters – it stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” Your school will not be able to issue you any financial aid if you do not turn one in. This is another form that you’ll need tax information to fill out – make sure to have your parents’ taxes on hand before you sit down to do your FAFSA. You may also qualify for additional aid based on your FAFSA. Click here to read more about it.
4. Ask the Coaches About Aid in Advance
Once you know that a coach is interested in you, don’t be afraid to ask him or her directly about aid. Financial aid is one of the biggest tools that coaches have to bring student-athletes into their programs, and a coach can be a big help in both navigating the college financial aid jungle and in finding more sources of aid you may not have even known were there. The further in advance you ask, the better – money and scholarships can (and do) run out, so there’s an advantage to thinking ahead.
5. Know Whether Your Sport is Head Count or Equivalency
When it comes to financial aid, there are two types of college sports: “head count” sports, and “equivalency” or “olympic” sports. Head count sports tend to be the ones that generate revenue and you’re more likely to see on TV: in Division I, the head count sports are basketball and football for men, and basketball, tennis, volleyball and gymnastics for women. All other sports are equivalency in Division I – other divisions may have different rules for what is a head count sport and which is an equivalency sport (click here to read more about the differences).
The big difference for athletes: head count athletes get full scholarships. Athletes in equivalency sports may only get partial scholarships. It’s important to create additional financial aid opportunities for yourself, no matter what sport you play (what counts as a “full” scholarship can vary from school to school) – so you should know what kind of scholarships your sport offers as you go forward in the process. You can also talk to the coach about what options they have when it comes to distributing scholarships, how their scholarships are distributed, how many athletes are graduating, whether they can offer you more aid in the future, and so on.
6. Examine and Appeal Your SAR
Congratulations – you’ve gotten to the last of the big college financial aid acronyms! SAR stands for “student aid report.” It’s the document that your school’s financial aid office will create once they’ve processed your FAFSA and the financial aid you qualify for. It is a summary of all the financial aid the school offers you. Often – especially for athletes – you can find some additional aid if you “appeal” your SAR, especially if your coach is helping you with the process. This can be worth thousands of additional dollars.
7. Athletes aren’t limited to “athletic” scholarships
Finally, even if you are getting an athletic scholarship, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your eyes open for other kinds! This is especially important if you are only receiving a partial scholarship, or if you are playing at a division level that does not offer formal athletic scholarships. Athletes can receive need-based, merit-based (academic), or third-party scholarships (from veterans’ organizations, community service groups, unions… the list goes on and on). Qualifying for these scholarships is part of why academic success is so important. You can ask your high school counselor’s office, or use a website like to find lots of scholarships you may be eligible for.
Learning these facts and securing your financial aid accordingly can help save you and your family a lot of money. The financial assistance for your education is one of the most important advantages that sports can bring you in college – make the most of it!

Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that while on assignment in Taiwan on February 20, 2012 he met with leadership, including Grand Master Hsing Yun, at the Buddha Memorial Center in Kaohsiung City to thank the Fo Guang Shan organization for offering 2 scholarships for students from American Samoa to attend the University of the West (UWest) located in Rosemead, California, just ten minutes from Los Angeles.
“Fo Guang Shan is one of Taiwan’s largest Buddhist organizations, with over 100 branch temples around the world, including Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California,” Faleomavaega said. “In 1991, Grand Master Hsing Yun – the founding master of Fo Guang Shan – established three post-secondary educational institutions, including the University of the West.”
“UWest started in just one classroom at Hsi Lai Temple. In 1996, a campus was purchased in Rosemead and, today, UWest offers programs in Business Administration, Psychology, English, ESL, and Religious Studies. Offering a whole-person education, UWest is a private, nonprofit university accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is open to students of all faiths. One of UWest’s primary missions is to facilitate cultural understanding between the East and the West, which I believe is timely and unique.”
“This is why I want to thank Venerable Miaohong, Special Assistant to the President of the University of the West, for visiting my office prior to my departure for Taiwan to discuss the University’s offer to provide 2 scholarships to students from American Samoa for the 2012 school year,” Faleomavaega said. “The 1-year scholarships, worth about $10,000 each, cover tuition, books, and housing at the University. Each year, students may re-apply for additional scholarships or for work-study programs.”
“So, on behalf of our students who will compete for these 2 scholarships, I express my appreciation to UWest for including American Samoa as part of its global outreach. Like Dr. C.S. Wu, President of UWest stated, ‘A student isn’t whole until she knows where she comes from, who she is today and what possibilities lay before her in the future.’ I couldn’t agree more. In fact, this line of thought is similar to Samoan culture and traditions in which we pass down from generation to generation the wisdom of the past for purposes of navigating a future that pays homage to who we are and where we’re from.”
“No doubt we are carving out a new future together with the University of the West, and because of the generosity of the University, I thought it was important while I am in Taiwan to pay my respects to Venerable Grand Master Hsing Yun for making these scholarships possible. I thank Venerable Grand Master Hsing Yun for the kindness and goodwill extended during my visit. I was deeply touched that he invited me to meet with him, and I was honored by the experience. He is a man of goodness and my visit with him left an impression on my heart that I will never forget."
"He even said if our students are interested in pursuing an education at one of Fo Guang Shan's other campuses in Taiwan he would also work with us to make this possible. Words cannot express how I feel about the Venerable Grand Master's kind offer to students from American Samoa, but I thank him for being our friend and I extend to him my highest regards on behalf of the people of American Samoa."
“I also want to thank Joseph Merante, Executive Director of the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) for introducing me to UWest. HDI works to solve difficult humanitarian problems around the world and foster dialogue between the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, and it is my sincere hope that our two scholarship recipients from American Samoa will also engage in work around the world that will make a difference in the lives of others,” Faleomavaega concluded.

Jordan championed education as well as Grossmont football

Former coach to be honored Saturday

— To hear him tell it, longtime Grossmont College football coach Dave Jordan is all about his players. He has a track record to prove it and is about to be honored for it.

Jordan is being inducted into the California Community College Football Coaches Hall of Fame on Saturday in Visalia. It’s a who’s who of coaches and players that includes Don Coryell, Dick Vermeil, John Madden, Pete Carroll, Jackie Robinson, Aaron Rodgers, Herman Edwards and Tom Dempsey among many others.

“This honor is very special to me,” Jordan said. “JC football helped change my life. I was not a good high school student and I missed my senior year (at Compton High) because of injury.”

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Still a Team

Three former Utah players make history with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

It’s uncommon to have two starters on an NFL team who come from the same college or university. The rarity increases when an NFL team has three from the same school who all play on one side of the ball.

Yet three former Utah players—Paul Soliai ex’06, Sean Smith ex’08, and Koa Misi ex’09—all start on defense for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

The only other time that anyone can recall this situation happening in the modern era was more than a decade ago, with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, when former University of Miami Hurricanes cornerback Duane Starks, safety Ed Reed, and linebacker Ray Lewis were Ravens starters during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” says former longtime Dallas Cowboys Vice President of Player Personnel Gil Brandt, who has been a superior evaluator of NFL talent for more than 50 years and now is the primary personnel expert for

“It’s obviously something the University of Utah should be very proud of,” Brandt says. “They have such a good program.”

Brandt notes that Starks, Lewis, and Reed were all first-round draft picks. The three former Utes, however, didn’t have such auspicious beginnings. “The thing that makes it interesting is that these three guys weren’t first-round choices and are starting. That’s the rarity.”

Soliai was a fourth-round pick in 2007, Smith was drafted in the second round in 2009, and Misi was selected in the second round in 2010. And back when they were eyeing their college possibilities, Utah was pretty much the only option for all three, so the fact that they were even drafted at all is something of a miracle in itself.

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IFAF on 02/26/2012

Torrential rain impacted the game

American Samoa showed their dominance at Under 19 level with a comprehensive 93-7 victory over Australia to win the 2012 Oceania Bowl and qualify for the 2012 IFAF U19 World Championship.

Running back Faafouina Sitagata carried the ball 12 times for 107 yards and 3 touchdowns in the rout, while Nathaniel Tuamohelo had 99 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Wide receiver Elliot Peters had three catches, all in the end zone and Shalom Luani scored on a punt return, interception return, two-point run and an extra point kick.

The lopsided score evoked memories of 2001 when the Australian national soccer team defeated American Samoa by a world record score of 31-0 in FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Australia's Gold Coast was pounded by torrential rain that also dominated the clash down under at the Runaway Bay Sports Center.

The Samoans held a slim eight-point lead at the end of the first quarter after a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gabriel Collins passes to Peters and a C.J. Afalava run for two points.

The ground game proved to be the visitors' path to complete dominance as they overpowered their hosts with 30 unanswered second quarter points to take a 38-0 lead into the halftime break.

Sitagata breached the end zone from 13 yards out and Luani's carry added two points as kicking extra points was abandoned due to the torrid weather conditions.

The Collins to Peters connection, this time over seven yards and an Abraham Fata two-point rush opened the lead to 24 points before Fata raced to pay dirt for six from six yards out. Sitagata's second carry for a score from 11 yards out and an Aloese Sua two-point run completed the first half scoring.

American Samoa again scored four touchdowns in a quarter as they regained control after the break.

Tuamohelo opened the half with a spectacular 44-yard race to the end zone and Shalom Luani tagged on the extra point, before Peters made his third scoring grab from 15 yards out from Lolani Faaloua, but the kick failed.

Zach Langkilde recovered a Fata fumble in the end zone for another touchdown and Sitagata's run added on two more points. Faaloua scored a quarterback keeper from 13 yards out and Tuamohelo added the two-point conversion so American Samoa led 67-0 heading into the fourth quarter.

The American Samoa got in on the act as Luani returned Joshua Bell's punt 90 yards to score before Sitagata burst 37 yards to score.

Australia got on the board when quarterback Kieren Lansdell hit Darcy Dignam from eight yards out and Joshua Bell connected with the extra point.

But the Samoans had the final say as Fata scored his second touchdown of the contest from seven yards out and a Faaloua pass to Ryan Petala raised the score to 87-7.

Australia pressed to have the final say, but Lansdell was intercepted by Luani who raced 70 yards for a touchdown. Top 100 WAC football players for 2011: Nos. 20-11

Read Article
Arizona football: American Samoan spent freshman year picking up systems

Aiulua Fanene has a system.

Whenever the Arizona Wildcats defensive tackle wants to call home, he first phones his brother, Jonathan, in Ohio.

Jonathan Fanene, a defensive end with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals, punches a few buttons and then connects his younger brother to Nu'uuli, American Samoa, so he can connect with their parents.

It's a complex, time-consuming process with one obvious reward.  "I don't waste my money," he said.

Fanene is taking advantage of every opportunity this spring, whether it's playing time on the Wildcats' rebuilt defensive line or - thanks to his brother - an inexpensive way to call home.

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Iosefa is no Average Joey

Getting up to speed with his duties in the backfield has accelerated Joey Iosefa’s rise up the depth chart.

As much as any group, spring represents a season of opportunity for Hawaii’s running backs. Iosefa, a redshirt freshman who began learning the position last spring, is positioning himself for playing time in the fall with eye-catching performances in the Warriors’ workouts.

“Joey Iosefa’s been a great surprise,” UH running backs coach Brian Smith said. “He looks a lot quicker, he’s understanding the offense a lot better, getting a lot more comfortable, so he’s had a really good spring so far.”

Read more:

LJCD and Togiaso’s coach became his family

In the attempt to give their Division I football program extra appeal to Fiaalii “Junior” Togiaso, a senior lineman at La Jolla Country Day School, recruiters looked at the obvious and began rattling off numbers. Specifically, they noted how many Samoans they already had on their college teams, including a plethora of Polynesians at the University of Utah.

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Tough & tender Lady Griz leader has two sides

“She’s an angel off the court,” explains Katie Baker, carefully weaving through a description of her roommate/teammate. “She’s someone to be reckoned with on the court.”

An intense competitor with an overt dislike for losing, Ena has been a force for the Montana women’s basketball team for four straight years. She’s on pace to finish with 1,100+ points and 600+ rebounds, which would make her one of only 14 in Lady Griz history to accomplish the feat.

Read more:

Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... Troy Polamalu

Although he's known for his soft-spoken ways, Steelers' five-time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu last week spoke out against National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell's crackdown on violent tackling and questioned whether the official had too much power. His comments came after Steelers linebacker James Harrison was fined $75,000 for what the league called illegal hits.

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SBU's Samoan cousins a fan favorite in Bolivar

BOLIVAR, Mo. -- SBU football coach Keith Allen got a tip about a Samoan linebacker at a San Jose community college. That tip turned into a monster tight end named Jameson Manuma. When Manamu reached the Bolivar, Missouri campus he suggested his 6-5, 320 pound cousin Ino Vitale. By Christmas a third cousin, Ben Tautolo showed up.

Now the big haired Samoan trio is not only making a huge impact on the field, they are a fan favorite off with their popular war dance called the "Haka" dance.

Nebraska - Idaho

Nebraska's Roy Helu Jr. (10) tries to run past Idaho's Homer Mauga (19), in the first half of their NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010.
(AP Photo/Dave Weaver)
Helix senior plays anything, including ukulele

Helix standout Sam Meredith carries a 3.6 grade-point average entering his senior year.

When Sam Meredith isn’t making tackles and laying down blocks on Friday nights, he often can be found strumming a ukulele in his spare time.

It’s quite a sight watching the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Helix High senior pluck a 21-inch ukulele in the family band while his father Sam Sr. plays lead guitar and sisters Christine (22), Sarah (15), Erika (10) and Lauren (7) sing on Sundays at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in La Jolla.  Read Article

Vandals linebackers connect on field and at home

Come Thursday night, Idaho football fans will have a better sense of how the Vandals’ starting linebacker crew has coalesced. Already, though, this much is certain: They fit together splendidly at their off-campus home.

JoJo Dickson and Robert Siavii are from Hawaii, Homer Mauga’s family used to live in Honolulu, and all three have carried the laid-back islands’ vibe to their house.

Football, movies, food – there’s little disagreement among them on these and other topics.  Read article

Months after 60 Minutes ‘Football Island’, donations continue to pour in

Months after the airing of 60 Minutes Football Island highlighting the local football program, donations from those touched by the stories of American Samoa’s athletes continue to pour in with the latest donation received from Phyllis Lindsey and Edward Maiava in Olympia, Washington. This most recent donation from Washington — a container of helmets, football cleats, pads, jerseys and pants — has been received by the Samoa Bowl Committee. The container was shipped to American Samoa through the help of Janis Holland at Clipper Oil Company, who managed to pay the shipping of the container to Pago Pago. The Samoa Bowl Committee, which also contributed to shipping costs.  Read article
Over $450,000 in medical supplies and $50,000 in athletic equipment donated for 3rd Annual AS Goodwill Mission

More than $450,000 in medical supplies and services plus $50,000 in athletic equipment will be donated during the Third Annual American Samoa Goodwill Mission, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Hawaii-based June Jones Foundation. June Jones and his delegation of football, golf stars and medical staff are scheduled to arrive in American Samoa tonight to begin a whirlwind four days of giving...  Read article

Samoan influence in the NFL

For years, the NFL has had a strong yet silent Samoan force in its ranks, and after 65 years it's finally getting some decent exposure.

Al Lolotai was the first Samoan drafted into the NFL by the Redskins in 1945, and they have made a positive influence ever since.

The general conception about Samoan players were they were huge in stature and usually ended up on the defensive or offensive line, and pretty much out of the spotlight.

Jesse Sapolu won four Super Bowls, and pretty much met the fate of being unfamous for that very reason.

However, there are now Samoan players shattering that image lining up as safeties, linebackers, and even tight ends. Heres a look at the current most popular Samoans in the NFL  See list



An academic standout and athlete at Madison High School in San Diego, Sharon would seem to lead one of those gilded lives where success and opportunity come effortlessly.

She carries a 4.29 cumulative grade-point average and plays varsity volleyball, soccer and basketball. She also plays in the campus orchestra and teaches freshmen how to develop good study habits.  But Sharon’s journey to graduation — and to UC Berkeley in the fall — has been difficult.

Sharon, 18, lost her father to cancer, leaving her family grieving and scrambling financially. A broken leg forced her to spend much of junior year in a wheelchair and on crutches, temporarily crushing her athletic pursuits.

“She could be discouraged, but she has taken her misfortune as an incentive to prepare herself to be successful in the world,” said Carol Sobek, Madison’s head counselor.

Sharon applied for several scholarships, knowing that her mother would be unable to pay for her education. She was recently named a Gates Millennium Scholar, an award that will cover the cost of undergraduate education and includes the possibility of funding for graduate school.  “I dedicated my life to getting an education and scholarships to pay for it — to give my mother an outlet to be proud,” Sharon said.

— Maureen Magee


Tago has the talent to be terrific

Peter Tago gingerly flipped the baseball from the pocket of his glove to the palm of his right hand. Much was at stake at the moment, but Tago carried himself like an old pro, not a nervous high school pitcher. He had runners on first and second with two out and the score tied in the seventh inning of his last regular-season home game. Pitching in front of about 20 scouts with their radar guns trained on him and in a must-win game for his team to advance to the playoffs, Tago was as smooth as his delivery. He stood in the sunshine and flashed a playful grin. He wanted to give his team, Dana Point (Calif.) Hills, the best chance to win. And he wanted to give the scouts what they were looking for one more time.  Read article

SHS receives new Riddell helmets from Canadian businessman

Samoana High School has received a shipment of 60 brand new Riddell ‘Revolution’ football helmets courtesy of a businessman in Toronto, Canada, who was prompted to donate to the local high school after watching CBS’ 60 Minutes ‘Football Island’ in January this year.

After the 60 Minutes segment aired, Samoa News received a number of inquiries from parties wishing to donate to local football program but the request from Toronto businessman Mario Elia— was the first e-mail received by Samoa News, prompted by the 60 Minutes piece.  Read article


49's take Iupati 17th overall

The names of 32 players from 24 different schools were announced in prime time on national television Thursday.

For the first time in NFL Draft history, two were from football programs in Idaho.

Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati was selected 17th overall by the San Francisco 49ers.

Read article from Idaho Press-Tribune

Watch video clip

God's 26 Guards

Have you ever felt the urge to pray for someone and
Then just put it on a list and said, 'I'll pray for them later?'
Or has anyone ever called you and said,
'I need you to pray for me, I have this need?'

Read the following story that was sent to me and
May it change the way that you may think about prayer
and also the way you pray. You will be blessed by this....

A missionary on furlough told this true story while
Visiting his home church in Michigan...

'While serving at a small field hospital in Africa,
Every two weeks I traveled by bicycle
Through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies.
This was a journey of two days and
Required camping overnight at the halfway point.

On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city
Where I planned to collect money from a bank,
Purchase medicine, and supplies, and then begin
My two-day journey back to the field hospital.

Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting,
One of whom had been seriously injured.
I treated him for his injuries and at the same time
Talked to him about the Lord.

I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and
Arrived home without incident...

Two weeks later I repeated my journey...
Upon arriving in the city,
I was approached by the young man I had treated.
He told me that he had known I carried
Money and medicines.
He said, 'Some friends and I followed you in to the jungle,
Knowing you would camp overnight.
We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs.
But just as we were about to move into your camp,
We saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.

At this, I laughed and said that I was
Certainly all alone in that jungle campsite.
The young man pressed the point, however, and said,
'No, sir, I was not the only person to see the guards,
My friends also saw them, and we all counted them.
It was because of those guards that
We were afraid and left you alone.'

At this point in the sermon,
One of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and
interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the
exact day this happened. The missionary told the congregation
the date, and The man who interrupted told him this story:

'On the night of your incident in Africa,
It was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf.
I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you.
In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong,
I called men in this church to meet with me here
In the sanctuary to pray for you.

Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?'
The men who had met together to pray that day stood up.
The missionary wasn't concerned with whom they were,
He was too busy counting how many men he saw.

There were 26.

This story is an incredible example of how the Spirit of the Lord
moves on behalf of those who love Him.
If you ever feel such prodding to pray, go along with it,
you don't know what it can mean to that person...

Nothing is ever hurt by prayer except the gates of hell.
I encourage you to share this with as many people as you know.
If we all take it to heart,
We can turn this world toward God once again.
As the above true story clearly illustrates,
'With God all things are possible.'

More importantly, how God hears and
Answers the prayers of the faithful.

After you read this, please pray for someone in needs
Give God thanks for the beautiful gift of your faith,
For the powerful gift of prayer, and for the many miracles
He works in your own daily life... And then pass it on
Who says God does not move on the earth today?

I asked the Lord to bless you as I prayed for you today.
To guide you and protect you as you go along your way.
His love is always with you, His promises are true,
and when we give Him our cares you know
He will see us through.
So when the road you're traveling on seems difficult at best, Just
remember I'm here praying, and
God will do the rest.

Pass this on to those whom you want God to bless
I Can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Paea hopes to improve draft status with final year at OSU

Stephen Paea won't get any Youtube bucks from "South Park" as an Internet sensation, but he may cash in next April after the NFL draft.

The defensive tackle for the Oregon State football team looked into turning pro this year, but decided to come back for his senior season.

Paea considered the financial ramifications, but it came down to being the first in his family to earn a degree and the joy he has playing for the Beavers.

"I felt good about him coming back because Stephen went into it wanting to come back," coach Mike Riley said. "His family wanted to go through the process."

Read Article from

Fautasi update: Sharks in the water

After Samoana High School christened its new fautasi yesterday in Utulei, a crew of students, teachers, trainers, Gov. Togiola Tulafono and Parent-Teacher- Association President Va'amua Henry Sesepasara, took the boat out for its maiden row as the Samoana Sharks

Read Article from Samoan News
Bengals’ Fanene and Maualuga donate 1,000+ pairs of cleats to local football

Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Jonathan Fanene donate more than a thousand pairs of football cleats to the local high schools, who are competing in the ASHSAA football league, including the all-new Kanana Fou Stallions football team. 

Read Article from Samoan News
Domata Peko Foundation donates to AYFS league

The Domata Peko Foundation has donated football equipment to the American Youth Football of Samoa (AYFS), league organizers receiving the equipment last Friday during a small presentation at the Peko residence in Lauli’i village.

The donation was presented by Pastor Alataua Peko on behalf of his son, Cincinnati Bengals lineman Domata Peko, who was recently in the territory but left the island Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010 for Cincinnati.

According to Pastor Peko, 40 pads, and 40 helmets have been given to the AYFS. AYFS President Shiloh Pritchard, and AYFS board member Jr. Poasa received the donation.

“On behalf of my son Domata, we would like to donate this football equipment to the young generation of American Samoa, to establish a talent that we are known for world wide...60 Minutes put us out as the football island, and...hopefully [we can] bring up more future American Samoan NFL players,” said the Pastor.

Read Article from Samoan News
Why are Samoans flocking to the NFL? On "60 Minutes"|

NEW YORK -- 60 MINUTES goes to American Samoa to find out how a territory with a population less than the capacity of a pro-football stadium sends more players to the NFL than any similarly populated place in America. In fact, boys born to Samoan parents are estimated to be 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than other Americans, reports Scott Pelley in his story that broadcast last month on the CBS Television Network.

The Samoan people tend to be on the larger side and the islands’ six high schools have sent 10 linemen to the NFL in the last five years. One of those 10 NFL linemen who played Samoana 'Shark' high school ball is the Cincinnati Bengals’ Domata Peko, who says Samoans’ speed plays a role as well. “The combination of size and ability and speed, that’s kind of hard to find. Big dudes who can have nimble feet and are able to run and go sideline to sideline,” says Peko. Peko’s teammate, another Samoan named Jonathan Fanene, is a defensive end who proves Peko’s point with his six sacks and a touchdown this season. Says Fanene, “With the talent that we have, we have to take pride of it, especially when you have the opportunity to come to the mainland.”

Fanene’s little, well, not so little, brother, 17-yr.-old Aiulua, is poised to follow in Jonathan’s footsteps. At 6-5 and 280lbs., he’s considering offers from Arizona University and Oregon State. Like many other Samoans, he does a day’s worth of chores before school starts. His father, David, thinks the discipline has a lot to do with his kids’ football success. “That’s how he’s been brought up. Discipline. Obedience should be involved in this house and I am expecting our children to obey us,” Fanene tells Pelley

Jonathan Fanene built his family a palatial home in Samoa with the seven-figure salary his NFL career affords him.

Perhaps the most famous Samoan in the NFL, Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu – born in the U.S. to Samoan parents – says the island is lucky to have the option of football. Beyond a career in the NFL, Samoans have little opportunity beyond the military or work in a tuna canning industry based there that is threatening to pull out soon. “The beautiful thing about football is it’s allowed us to get into education,” says Polamalu. “Football is something that comes naturally to us,” he tells Pelley.

There are currently more than 30 Samoans in the NFL and another 200-plus playing Division 1 college football. There are just 65,000 people living on the islands. “What if there were 120 million Samoans,” wonders Polamalu. “How many Samoans would there then be in the NFL?”

Another Samoan a high prospect in 2010 NFL Draft

Aside from American Samoa’s number one NFL 2010 Draft pick Mike Iupati, there is another son of Samoa who is also on the rise for the 2010 NFL Draft. Nawa’akoa Lisiate Foti Analeseanoa Misi of Santa Rosa California, is currently attending the University of Utah, and is a star at the Outside Linebacker position, and defensive end for the Utes football team.

Read Article from Samoan News
Bengals and Tri-State area donate $40,500
to tsunami recovery efforts

Read Article from Samoan News Donation
Read Article from Samoan News Welcome
Will SD Tackle its O-Line Needs?
By Amberly Dressler
Special to
Date: Feb 3, 2010

The San Diego Chargers need to address the offensive and defensive lines in this year’s draft. One of the most intriguing prospects to come out of the Senior Bowl last week was Idaho G/T Mike Iupati. With Jeromey Clary on the bubble, this versatile and impressive small-school guy is big on our list.

Sack Master Mauga Commits to Vandals 

Date: Feb 2, 2010

NAMED TO A JC ALL-STAR SELECTION AND TEAM DEFENSIVE MVP, Grossmont College outside linebacker HOMER MAUGA (6-0, 220) terrorized opposing offenses for 15 sacks, 7 QB hurries, two picks, and total 72 tackles in 2009. "He didn't get Player of the Year in the league but he probably should have," said head coach Mike Jordan. "He's very, very good off the edge, just a good player, a great young man."

Wiley, Magua sign with Idaho
© East County

MOSCOW, Idaho (2-4-10) — The Grossmont College duo of linebacker HOMER MAUGA and offensive lineman CHARLES WILEY hope to make an immediate impact at the University of Idaho next fall.
Both have accepted scholarships to play football for the Vandals, who are attempting to make an immediate turn-around after suffering through eight losing seasons in the last nine years.
Football games are won and lost in the trenches, and having a deep pool of steak-eaters to work with is key. Grossmont College head coach MIKE JORDAN confirmed that 6-foot-6, 310-pound standout offensive tackle CHARLES WILEY made his intentions official by committing to the Idaho this weekend. A two-year starter with three years to play two at Idaho, Wiley joins a Vandal offensive line looking to replace four starters.
Sack-happy Mauga was honored as a JC All-Southern California pick and team defensive MVP. The 6-foot, 220-pound linebacker terrorized opposing offenses for 15 sacks, 7 QB hurries, two picks and 72 total tackles in 2009.
“He didn’t get Player of the Year in the league but he probably should have,” said Jordan. “He’s very good off the edge, just a good player all-around.”
Mauga is the fourth member of his family to play football at a Division I school. MAGNUM MAUGA is a starting defensive tackle at Utah State. DALLAS MAUGA and RAINBOW MAUGA concluded their football careers at Sacramento State.

Check out A healthy approach
John R. McCutchen / JOHN McCUTCHEN / Union-Tribune

Morse High junior Abigail Leaupepe-Tele lost about 15 pounds by eating more healthful foods. She says she feels batter on the court. 

Less is more as Morse High junior Abigail Leaupepe-Tele sees it.

Although many basketball players try to add weight, making it more difficult to push them around, Leaupepe-Tele discovered the benefits of shedding pounds.

“Basketball is my passion,” said the 6-foot Leaupepe-Tele, who missed time at the end of the regular season with a sprained ankle. “But last season I would hyperventilate during the game, and I'd get tired real fast.”

Leaupepe-Tele said she went to the doctor with stomach cramps and chest pains and was told that if she didn't lose weight her playing days could be numbered. She needed to lose the fast food, too. It was time for a healthy diet.

Those are fighting words for many teenagers, but Leaupepe-Tele took them to heart. She gave up soda, drinking mostly water and an occasional Gatorade. Those Hot Cheetos she loved? No more.

She has even steeled her resolve to resist the one thing she really misses – french fries.

“I really love french fries, but I know they're bad for me,” Leaupepe-Tele said. “If I eat a few fries, I can almost feel the fat and salt clogging me up.”

Leaupepe-Tele said she has dropped 15 pounds and has replaced the high-fat, high-sodium snacks with such foods as celery and steamed vegetables. Now when she's hungry, she said she craves fresh salad items such as lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and especially red onions.

The results are obvious on the basketball court, where a slimmer Leaupepe-Tele averages about 13 points and has the stamina to play an entire game.   The stomach cramps and chest pains are gone, too.

“I don't like to be told I can't play,” Leaupepe-Tele said. “What I really like is to block shots. I like that even more than scoring because if you block a shot, not only do you stop the other team from scoring, but you have a chance to score yourself, resulting in a four-point turnaround.  Basketball is all about defense anyway.”

Not that Leaupepe-Tele has any trouble at the other end of the court. She averaged better than 20 points a game to win the Most Valuable Player award in the Kiwanis Tournament.

Coach Deadrick Robinson said scoring isn't all that Leaupepe-Tele gives the Tigers, who were scheduled to begin the playoffs this week after finishing the regular season 10-16.

“Abigail is the consummate team player, so there are times when she'll pass the ball when she should just shoot it,” Robinson said. “She needs to get to the point where she'll take the team on her shoulders in crunch time, where she'll ask for the ball.   Her shot selection is so much better this year, and she's the best ball-handler on the team,” he said. “But we've always had taller players, so you didn't notice her as much as you do now. We're going to get her on a good traveling team this summer.”

Leaupepe-Tele started playing basketball at age 11. She plans to once again put the shot and toss the discus this spring in track, where she was among the City Conference's best, but her focus is on basketball.   And on being healthy.


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