Boys of summer: High school football kicks off

Federal Way High School football coach John Meagher talks to his Eagles team during their first practice of the season Wednesday afternoon at Federal Way Memorial Field. Federal Way opens up on Sept. 2 at Graham-Kapowsin.  - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Federal Way High School football coach John Meagher talks to his Eagles team during their first practice of the season Wednesday afternoon at Federal Way Memorial Field. Federal Way opens up on Sept. 2 at Graham-Kapowsin.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

High school football officially kicked off across the state Wednesday morning under perfect blue skies. And like with the start of anything, optimism and expectations are running wild around the Todd Beamer, Federal Way, Thomas Jefferson and Decatur high school programs.

All four teams had their struggles at certain points during the 2010 season. But, at the same time, all four teams had some glimpses of being able to compete with the higher echelon teams in the rugged South Puget Sound League.

The best of the bunch last season was at Todd Beamer. The Titans made the program’s first-ever postseason appearance after finishing 4-4 in the SPSL South.

But head coach David Sundheim lost a lot of production from last year’s roster, including all-leaguers T.J. Esekielu, Nicky Fualaau, Mike Reidel, Taylor Northern and Dominique Maxie.

The biggest losses will be Esekielu and Fualaau. In his first full season starting at quarterback for the Titans, Esekielu had a historic year, finishing with 1,604 yards on the ground and 1,402 through the air, giving him 3,006 yards of total offense on the year. He was the first quarterback in SPSL history to rush and throw for over 1,000 yards during the regular season.

Fualaau, who is playing as a freshman at Liberty University, was a first-team linebacker and tight end last year. He caught 20 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns and finished second in the SPSL South in tackles for losses with nine — and led the Titans with 49 tackles. He also was third in the division with four interceptions, and he returned one for a touchdown.

As usual, expectations are high at Federal Way. After four straight appearances in the postseason, the Eagles struggled to a 3-6 record in the SPSL South a season ago.

But head coach John Meagher brings back plenty of talent from that team, including three college-ready talents in Jordan Pulu, Uso Olive and D.J. May.

Pulu, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker, gave Washington State a verbal commitment in June after a junior season that saw him lead the Eagles with 65.5 tackles, including 54 solo.

“The whole program seemed like it was on the right track,” Pulu said about WSU. “I feel like that coaching staff has a plan even though they haven’t been successful the last couple of years.”

Olive, a 6-0, 306-pound lineman, gave his verbal commitment to Portland State last week and was named the MVP of the defensive lineman during this summer’s Northwest Elite Football Camp. As a junior, Olive finished with 23.5 tackles and one sack for the Eagles.

May also made a huge impression during the spring camp series. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound running back ran a laser-timed 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at the Nike SPARQ Combine in Oregon.

Last season for the Eagles, May finished the season with 1,310 yards on the ground, with 13 touchdowns.

The Thomas Jefferson Raiders are also looking to take another step up in the SPSL North standings. Jefferson finished 3-6 a year ago with wins over Tahoma, Mount Rainier and Federal Way. The Raiders also return plenty of talent.

Senior K.W. Williams will be starting at quarterback for the third year in a row for TJ. Last year he passed for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns and ran for 301 yards and five TDs. Also back are defensive stalwarts Jefferson Aumua and Tim Luafatasaga.

Luafatasaga led the SPSL North during the regular season in tackles with 76.5. The linebacker averaged 8.5 tackles a game and also had eight tackles for a loss. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Aumua clogged the middle for the Raiders and is drawing interest from college programs.

Jefferson will be without the services of running back Keegan Giles, who totaled 1,814 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns.

Decatur is hoping to improve on its first season in the SPSL 3A Division. The Gators finished 1-9 and were shut out four times. Decatur and head coach Leon Hatch will open their season at home Sept. 2 against perennial power Kennedy Catholic.

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