Two years ago, Xavius Tauta was a standout defensive lineman for Lee Williams High in Arizona. Tonight, he will be difference maker on both sides of the trenches as Millikan hosts Wilson is second-place Moore League battle.
Millikan coach Justin Utupo said before the season that Tauta “fell out of the sky” into his squad, and that the 6’3” 310-pound Samoan brings more to that table than just his pure athletic skill
“His demeanor, his size and the hair coming out of the helmet… he’s done a lot for not only for our offensive line, but our whole team,” Utupo said.
Keeping his intimidating stature in mind, Tauta said he wants to just be one of the guys while setting a good example.
“Every since elementary school I’ve always been the biggest kid,” Tauta said. “It made me be a leader in front of everyone because everyone looked up to me. This team looks at me as a leader, and I have to be a good role model for them. I like that.”
Millikan senior captain Jacob Starkey said Tauta has a great personality, if you know how to deal with the big man.
“He took on a big role for us,” Starkey said. “We know when you can and can’t mess around with him. He’ll get mad real quick, and you don’t want him to get mad.”
“If you hang out with me I’m a really cool guy and I’m funny,” Tauta said. “But if you push my buttons I’ll get mad. But I don’t like to get mad. I like to be the person that’s fun to hang out with.”
Tauta was born in Long Beach, but didn’t start playing football until his family relocated to Arizona when he was eight years old. He quickly moved up to varsity as a sophomore at Lee Williams High where he was a defensive lineman, but his life got turned upside down when his grandmother, Rina, passed away last year in Long Beach. Tauta immediately moved back to California to be with the rest of his extended family, and that meant that he had to miss the last month of his junior football season.
“It was disappointing,” Tauta said. “But I knew my grandma would’ve wanted me back here, so I came back here for her and my family.”
Tauta said that all he knew about Millikan football at the time was that the Rams had been struggling, but that new coach Justin Utupo was turning things around.
“I came to Millikan and fell in love with the football program,” Tauta said.
Tauta has gotten some interest from college football teams, and said his goal is to get his grades up enough to play at a four-year university. He also plays for the 18U Belmont Shore Rugby team, and said that he relies more on his technique than his size when playing offensive line. However, he likes playing defense more because of the freedom to just do damage.
Tauta said he’s planning on doing both tonight against Wilson.