An abundance of energetic physicality carried St. Anthony past Salesian on Friday night at Clark field 42-12, and the Saints were all smiles after their second consecutive win of the spring season.
“These guys love contact and I don’t know how else to put it,” St. Anthony coach Mario Morales said. “From our freshman guys to our seniors, they love the physically. We’ve always preached it, and sometimes it’s hard for them to actually do it and execute. They’re doing it and as coaches we’re just sitting back and enjoying it.”
St. Anthony (2-0) dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball while running back Sone Aupiu scored three touchdowns on 17 carries for 113 yards.
“He’s just such a humble guy and he doesn’t talk and that makes us just want to block harder for him,” St. Anthony senior center Gary Jondle said. “Seeing what he does on the field is incredible.”
Aupiu scored twice early in the second half to effectively end the game.
“He’s a rugby guy and just loves the game,” Morales said of Aupiu. “All that he’s learned from that he carries over to here and honestly I think he’s still getting better. He’s got a high ceiling and it’s cool to see him evolve.”
Aupiu is also a linebacker as part of a strong Saints defense. Salesian (1-2) didn’t score until the second half, and only had four plays of 10 yards or more in the first half. Aupiu and his cousin Anakin Aupiu racked up a handful of big hits in the Salesian backfield.
“It’s in their blood,” Morales said. “The thing I love the most is how physical they play and how quiet they are. They just play the game the way it’s supposed to be played with their mouthpiece in.”
In front of the Aupiu cousins and fellow linebacker Julio Prior, the St. Anthony defensive line led by Eric Suluai, Sauilemau Lewis, Dennis King, Damian Giovanny and others were almost unstoppable.
“We can’t do it without our linebackers,” Suluai said. “They’re filling gaps, the defensive ends are squeezing, and we played as a team to play well. COVID made us miss the season and we just all come together and play hard.”
“It’s about the comradery,” Jondle said. “We’re done with this COVID-19 stuff. We just want to come out here and play football. We’re just trying to have some fun at this point.”
The Saints started having fun early as quarterback Joey Howorko went over the top to find Ryan Norried for a 40-yard touchdown on their opening drive. Howorko completed 12 of his 21 pass attempts for 160 yards. Norried gained 86 yards on four receptions.
Aupiu scored late in the second quarter for a 13-0 lead, and came up with a pass deflection at the goal line on fourth down to keep Salesian off the scoreboard.
As the game got longer, it was clear St. Anthony was gaining momentum and confidence. Even freshman Elijah Lolesio-Pua, another Aupiu cousin, scored two touchdowns. The second one was a late 65-yard fake punt. He also had a highlight hit while carrying the ball down the sideline that got the Saints all fired up.
“It just kind of comes naturally,” Jondle said of the physically. “We know that if we hit them first, and hit them hard, they’re going to back down and they’ll run from us. We just hit them as hard as we can and it certainly shows (on the scoreboard).”
St. Anthony visits Harvard-Westlake next week.