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Lineman feels at home at Bonita Vista

10/29/2015, 4:07pm PDT
By Steve Brand

Senior defender earned All-Metro Mesa League second-team honors

Bonita Vista senior Moli Faalago is a key contributor for Bonita Vista, which is 6-2 overall and 2-0 in the Metro Mesa League.

— When Moli Faalago arrived on the Bonita Vista High School campus for his first day of summer orientation, he couldn’t believe the difference.

“I felt immediately accepted, I was welcomed by everyone — not just football players,” said the senior defensive lineman of his introduction to his new school. He had spent his first year in this country at Sweetwater High School after moving from Samoa.

“Don’t get me wrong, Sweetwater was fine, but the whole time I was there, I just hung around with my brother. Bonita Vista was more like home, everyone was accepting and friendly. We moved across the street from Southwestern College because we just thought we could get a better education.”

Football, as it was at Sweetwater, was the best way for him to make friends and feel like being part of a big family, something very Samoan that he missed.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder who just turned 17 thrived, moving up to the varsity last season and making an immediate impression by earning All-Mesa League second team honors.

“I think he’s the best defensive lineman in the South Bay and one of the best in the section,” said Barons head coach Chris Thompson. “He creates havoc so others make the play. He reminds me of Xavier Ulutu when I coached at Mira Mesa because of his overall athleticism, power and quickness.

“He can fight off a double-team, and he’ll beat you one-on-one. He’s absolutely in the conversation as the best defensive lineman in the county.”

Faalago has 28 solo tackles, 11 of them for a loss. He has 5.5 sacks and has forced two fumbles in leading the Barons to a 6-2 start. Heading into the week Bonita Vista was No. 2 in the section Division III power rankings.

“My goal is the same as last year — win the league, win the section, win the state,” Faalago said. “I feel like I let the team down last year because we didn’t accomplish those goals.”

He displays his Samoan heritage by wearing his lava-lava wrap to school on Fridays. Like most Samoans, he’s big but not nearly as big as the doctors say he will be when he stops growing —somewhere between 6-3 and 6-5.

“In Samoa, we respect daily life,” Faalago said. “I think in general we’re more respectful of our parents, and I gravitate toward those who share the same values I do. Every day I say hello to the teachers and always try to be early to class.”

Faalago’s father owns a transportation company in Samoa, so he couldn’t join his family but tries to visit at least three times a year, staying for as long as a month at a time. He’s passionate about football, being a former rugby player, and Faalago e-mails him game video every weekend.

“I miss him — I miss him a lot,” Faalago said.

He is often asked to pitch in at home since his mother works full time and is going to school, allowing him to cook his specialty—meatloaf. He has a secret recipe, but he’s not sharing.

He and teammate Chris Boguille became fast friends when Faalago transferred in and to this day they anchor the defense. They also help out on offense at tight end and running back, respectively.

“Moli is so easy to talk to,” Boguille said. “He’s passionate about the game and his teammates. In practice we talk smack a little and when he first came we got into an argument over basketball. His brother talked to me and we were back being friends two weeks later.

“The thing is, he has my back and I know he has mine, like all the players on this team.”

Thompson says although he may not know it, Faalago is like a Pied Piper.

“People just naturally follow him — he’s an influence even when he isn’t on the field,” Thompson said. “Before the game if the cheerleaders are dancing, Moli might be dancing, too. Like all Samoans, there is nothing small about Moli.”

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