The American Samoa All Stars defeated the Hawaii All Stars 23-20 New Years day in Samoa Bowl VII and an American Samoa squad faces the Australia Outback team today, Jan. 2, 2010. Samoa News spoke to American Samoa’s All Star Head Coach Pepine Lauvao on their victory over Hawaii.
“Well first things first, I want to give all the glory and the joy to our dear and most gracious Heavenly Father for our victory today, if it wasn’t for him...” said Lauvao. “I am so blessed for having such talented kids, and also my coaching staff. I also want to thank the governor as well as the Samoa Bowl committee for putting this wonderful program together.
On the game, he said “it was a hard fought battle.”
“I want to thank coach Livai and his coaching staff, as well as the Hawaii All Star team for a hard fought game today, it could’ve been anybody’s game,” noted Lauvao. “I also want to thank all the parents for their strong support, as well as all the schools on island and the different coaching staff from different schools”.
He noted: “I know we had a few incidents on the field due to our kids getting out of hand, but I want to thank my kids for having patience in them as well as Hawaii’s team, no matter if they are representing Hawaii, they are all brothers under one blood, they are all Samoan and we don’t consider them different from us.”
Hawaii led the game, up 14-0 through half-time. In the third quarter, American Samoa scored and in the fourth quarter they were in the lead 23-20.
Hawaii drove the ball down the field and was inside the one yard line on a third down. They could have gone for a field goal but opted to go for a touchdown that if it had been successful, would have tied the game.
However, American Samoa held Hawaii back, denying them the endzone on the third and fourth downs. With about two minutes left in the game, American Samoa was in possession again. American Samoa played out a quarterback kneel to run out the time, and won the game.
Hawaii Head Coach Siuaki Livai says they could have gone for the tie, but instead were looking to win the game.
“Both sides played very hard...it was a very physical game,” Livai told Samoa News. “We could have played for a field goal, but we played to win.”
He noted that there was “a lot of heat on the sidelines” and it was hard to keep things under control. One Hawaii coach was ejected from the game after a heated exchange with several game officials.
“I want to thank all the players for their hard work...though we lost, the experience these players have had, they will never forget,” added Livai, who commended the local coaches on their work.
He says local football is improving greatly in American Samoa and he is proud of the local high school coaches.
“I’m proud of them all,” he said. “These guys, I have known then for 7 to 10 years, even before the Samoa Bowl. I’m happy for them and everything that is happening in Samoa.”
Livai points out that the all-new American Youth Football Samoa (AYFS) league which held its inaugural match to open the American Samoa/Hawaii match-up yesterday “is only going to help” improve football among the younger generations.
“In about five years, American Samoa is going to be one of the top in all the states and territories...they have the right attitude,” he said.
As far as the local high school league, he says “it’s almost a toss up,” no longer just one school ruling the local football scene, but an exciting competition due to big improvements in school football programs all around.
“We’re proud of Samoa,” Livai said. “We thank Gov. Togiola Tulafono for giving us this opportunity...I thank all the people in Samoa for the sacrifices they’ve made for us...for us to be able to come down here and enjoy ourselves. I apologize for any misbehavior...the kids are still trying to learn the culture.”
Livai and his Hawaii team are planning to sit in for the American Samoa/Australia match-up today, the game was set to start at 9 a.m.
“Australia, it was great to see them here,” he said. “Regardless of the outcome of the game, it is already a win-win for everybody.”
After the nearly four-hour match, Gov. Togiola, dressed in a blue American Samoa jersey, congratulated both teams, reminding all athletes that they are “brothers.”
Samoa Bowl awards are expected to be distributed after the American Samoa/Australia match today.
Hawaii departs Sunday; Australia leaves Jan. 5.