The 4A high school football season begins this week. The Federal Way High School Eagles, shown practicing Wednesday, battle the Thomas Jefferson Raiders at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. Photo by Olivia Sullivan, the Mirror

The 4A high school football season begins this week. The Federal Way High School Eagles, shown practicing Wednesday, battle the Thomas Jefferson Raiders at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. Photo by Olivia Sullivan, the Mirror

Federal Way prep football 2018 season preview

Talented Eagles roster leads the pack this season

Another season of battling for glory under the stadium lights commences this week as Federal Way’s 4A high school football season returns.

Last year, the Federal Way Eagles and the Decatur Golden Gators both ended their seasons with a record of 4-6-0. The Todd Beamer Titans had a record of 6-4-0, while the Thomas Jefferson Raiders finished with a 1-9-0 record in 2017.

On the sidelines, Federal Way’s John Meagher heads into his 21st year as head coach, and his 24th year with FWHS.

“We had a good spring, good camp,” Meagher said. “There’s a feeling of optimism and as a coach, it’s always cautious optimism when you’re going into the year.”

The Eagles have another team full of talent this year, he said, and the team will continue to refine its reaction skills and play with a championship attitude.

“Champions have bad practices. We all have bad days, bad things that happen collectively as a group,” he said, adding it’s important to focus on reacting in the right way to any situation. “My thing is to always have the kids be a part of a team of significance, something they can look back on when they’re done, when they’ve completed their high school experience or when they’re 35 years old and at their 15-year reunion and talking.”

For Decatur, Matt Vaeena takes on his first year as head coach, following one year as a volunteer assistant for the team.

“Experience will be something we’ll lean on this year, especially in the offensive and defensive lines,” Vaeena said, adding that many of the players were freshmen last season. “We played a lot of young kids last year, so they have a year under their belt, they’ve gotten a year in the weight room.”

Many of the returners have naturally fallen into and taken over leadership roles on the team, Vaeena said.

“We’ve been kind of in a rebuild mode for a few years under coach Levi, who did a great job of leaving us in a position where we can step forward,” Vaeena said. “The goal this year is to start to move, take those steps forward and remain consistently competitive when tough times come.”

Thomas Jefferson’s Michael Talamaivao is another first-year head coach, with nine years of prior experience as assistant defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator.

“Our offense will be our strength as we have lots of offensive players returning and we have a different offensive coordinator at the helm,” Talamaivao said. “We have a young, but very talented team this year.”

The Raiders have a lot of speed at the receiver and running back positions, Talamaivao said.

“TJ defensively as always been in the top 10 in the past nine years I’ve been here as the assistant defensive coordinator, with the exception of last year,” he said. “But overall, we will be very competitive and ready when the season starts.”

Todd Beamer’s coach Darren McKay is entering his seventh year as head coach, with a combined 24 years of experience. He notes the Titans’ interior offensive and defensive lines, defensive backs and offensive backfield are major strengths this year.


Strong talent opens many doors, and two student-athletes have verbally committed to play for universities on the West Coast.

Federal Way senior Trey Davis has committed to begin his collegiate career at the University of Southern California, while fellow FWHS senior Alphonzo Tuputala has committed to play for the University of Washington.

From Todd Beamer, seniors Brandon Niksich and Billy Vann have each received an offer to play for Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, with no formal commitments made yet.

The season kicks off two back-to-back rival games at Memorial Stadium. Todd Beamer faced Decatur on Thursday with results unavailable at press time. Federal Way takes on Thomas Jefferson at 7 p.m. Friday.

Top offensive returners

Decatur: RB Jeremiah Palaita, 6’2, 220, sr.; OL Junior Ameperosa, 6’0, 295, sr.; WR Isaac May, 5’9, 190, jr.; C Jovon Seumaala, 5’11, 300, jr.; DT Robbrie Thompson, 6’2, 265, jr.; RB J.C. Clay, 5’7, 165, so.

Thomas Jefferson: RB Damarion Davis, 5’9, 175, jr.; Tackle Daniel Fernandez, 6’1, 290, sr.; C Fernando Castellanos, 6’0, 200, jr.; QB William Eagling, 5’9, 171, sr.; WR Adrian Taylor, 5’10, 165, jr.

Federal Way: WR Julio Chavez-Tilei, 6’2, 175, sr.; RB/H Alphonzo Tuputala 6’3, 235, sr.; RB Trey Davis, 5’11, 185, sr.; RB Milton Arnold, 5’9, 165, sr.; OL Rudy Delatorre, 5’9, 205, sr.; OL Elijah Tuiletufuga, 5’11, 240, sr.

Todd Beamer: QB Brandon Niksich, 6’3, 175, sr.; RB/DB Billy Vann, 5’9, 190, sr.; OL Daddee Matila, 6’4, 340, sr.; OL I’Ava Lui Jr., 5’11, 275, jr.; OL Marques Richards, 6’1, 230, sr.; WR Blake Stafford, 5’11, 160, jr.; OL Kiko Vaimauga, 6’0, 335, so.

Top defensive returners

Decatur: OLB Jeremiah Palaita, 6’2, 220, sr.; DL Junior Ameperosa, 6’0, 295, sr.; DB Daniel Hylton, 5’10, 190, jr.; DB Tyler Satterwhite, 5’8, 185, so.

Federal Way: MLB Alphonzo Tuputala, 6’3, 235, sr.; SS Trey Davis, 5’11, 185, sr.; DE Milton Arnold, 5’9, 165, sr.; C Poet Grayson, 5’10, 175, sr.; LB Rudy Delatorre, 5’9, 205, sr.

Thomas Jefferson: SS Alex Izhevskiy, 6’4, 195, sr.; LB Caleb Bloodsaw, 6’0, 190, jr.; DE Kevin Pineda, 6’2, 215, jr.; CB Max Lundberg, 5’9, 160, jr.; LB Tre Tausili, 6’2, 190, jr.

Todd Beamer: DL Daddee Matila, 6’4, 340, sr.; SS Kincade McFarlane, 6’2, 210, sr.; LB Demarcus Simpson, 6’1, 240, sr.; LB Denny Tiumalu, 6’0, 195, jr.; DB Alex Rogers, 5’11, 195, jr.; DB Brycen Dillworth, 5’10, 165, jr.; DL Kiko Vaimauga, 6’0, 335, so.

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