Football St. Anthony

Feature: St. Anthony’s Sone Aupiu Prepared to Power Championship Push

St. Anthony senior running back Sone Aupiu has a calm demeanor to him.

He’s polite, family-orientated, and grateful for the season he is having.

“I’m just trying to do my part and put in the work,” Aupiu said.

However, if you’ve watched any Saints’ games this year, you’ve probably witnessed what 11 defenses have seen: It takes more than one (or two or three) defenders to take down Aupiu, who runs with power and fights (and mostly succeeds) to get the extra yards.

As the Saints (8-4) prepare to face Salesian (9-3) in the CIF Southern Section Division 10 Semifinals on Friday, Aupiu is almost as fresh as the beginning of the season thanks to a decision made by the coaching staff in the middle of October.

After the La Salle victory on Oct. 1, Aupiu was on a torrid streak of over 850 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in his last three games but had nagging injuries to both of ankles.

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Before the Mary Star of the Sea game the following week, the team made the decision to rest Aupiu, a move Saints coach Raul Lara said was a tough decision because he’s a “dedicated player.”

One group wasn’t too happy with the decision.

“I was walking the sideline and I heard some students say we were going to lose,” Lara said.

St. Anthony beat Mary Star of the Sea, 37-14, as seniors Anakin Aupiu (14 carries for 83 yards) and Kweku Claybrook (11 carries for 97 yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions for 40 yards, 1 TD) stepped up in Sone’s absence.

“I’ve always had two or three running backs in my system,” Lara said. “Q (Claybrook) is the slasher while AK (Anakin Aupiu) is the pounder.”

After the week off, Sone Aupiu has looked “fresher”, coaches say.

He had 294 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the regular season finale victory over Harvard-Westlake, which guaranteed the team a playoff berth.

Aupiu said he’s always been a hard worker, even when first began playing youth football.

“I’ve always kept that to just me,” Aupiu said. “It pushes me to be the best fit.”

Aupiu played defensive line until sophomore year when coaches moved him because he was small for the position (6-feet, 210-pound), but he still plays on defense in a hybrid rush position.

Also a rugby player, Aupiu said the two sports correlate. 

“I take the speed and conditioning from football into rugby and physicality and strength from rugby to football,” he said.

Aupiu is undecided on his plan after graduating high school because he is still looking at either football or rugby scholarships.

If the Saints can prevail against Salesian on the road Friday, Aupiu and his squad will have a chance at a special week–they would host the CIF-SS championship next week against either opponent from the other semifinal.

 

Julian A. Lopez
Julian A. Lopez has been covering sports for five years. A Long Beach native, he graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism and spent the last three years as the sports reporter for the Modesto Bee.