Tuesday, June 20, 2006 Edison's Romney Fuga is the Register's Boys Athlete of the Year
The Orange County Register
HUNTINGTON BEACH–In the fall, Romney Fuga protected quarterback Brian Shrock's blind side and drew double teams as a defensive tackle.
In the winter, he fell one point short of the state wrestling title in the heavyweight division.
It was a physically demanding seven months, but the Edison senior more than stood up to the pounding. He dominated.
"He was a force to be reckoned with," football teammate Chris Talataina said.
Fuga (6-foot-2, 280 pounds) faced some of the toughest challenges football and wrestling could offer, and for his accomplishments, he is The Register's 2005-06 Boys Athlete of the Year. Orange County athletic directors also selected him their male athlete of the year.
Powerful and agile, Fuga was a driving force behind Edison's football team and Shrock, The Register's 2005 Football Offensive Player of the Year.
The Chargers won the Sunset League and earned the top seed for the CIF Division I playoffs. Edison fell in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Loyola of Los Angeles.
As Edison's left tackle, Fuga graded as the top offensive lineman on the team. On defense, he collected 11 sacks and created many more chances for teammates.
"He's the best two-way lineman I've coached in 20 years," Edison football coach Dave White said of Fuga, whose father, Romney Sr., brother, Tua, and two uncles also played at Edison.
When the score was close, Fuga rarely came off the field.
During the offseason, Fuga prepared for his two-way duties. Talataina said Fuga's dedication to working out included a belief that the team's voluntary training sessions were mandatory.
"It was rough but I liked it," Fuga said. "You don't really feel it in the game, but when you wake up the next morning, that's when you feel all the pain. I just like winning. If that is what it took to win, yeah, I'll do it."
The awards poured in after the season. Second-team all- state. First-team All-Southern Section. First-team All- County defense.
BYU recruited him as a defensive tackle, and he signed with the Cougars in February.
In wrestling, Fuga was a league and Southern Section champion. In the heavyweight finale at the state championships, he fell in double overtime to Sione Fua of Crespi, 2-1. Fuga lost on a penalty for illegally locking his hands.
Don't get the wrong idea about how Fuga felt about Fua. They were roommates on a football recruiting trip to BYU. Fua, who like Fuga is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, signed with Stanford.
"I was sad I lost," Fuga said, "but I was also glad for the guy because we're pretty good friends."
For all his success, Fuga's character off the field and mat is a constant subject among friends, family and White.
"He's very humble," said Fuga's mother, Lavalea.
Talataina said Fuga is known to be quiet sometimes but people are still drawn to the player.
"He's not quick to judge and sees the good in people," Talataina, also a senior lineman. "We respect him for his character."
Family and faith have shaped Fuga, who also has a younger brother, Teancum, 9. Fuga, whose parents were born in American Samoa and Samoa respectively, said his family is close and supportive of each other.
He also said religion has a strong presence in his life. During the school year, he attended seminary classes each day before school.
Despite the commitment to seminary classes and athletics, he maintained a 3.75 grade-point average. In his final semester, he earned his first 4.0. He also threw the discus and shot put for the track and field team for the first time this spring.
Fuga's thoughts on the future extend beyond football. After his freshman season at BYU, he will go a two-year church mission. He hopes to serve in a poor nation in Africa or South America. Tua is serving a mission in Ecuador.
"I just want to get away from civilization and see how the world really is," Fuga said. "It will be a humbling experience."
The Fuga file
A three-year starter, Romney Fuga starred on the offensive and defensive lines to power Edison to the Sunset League title (the Chargers later forfeited the title because of an ineligible player). Fuga was selected second-team all-state and first-team All-County defense. He signed with BYU as a defensive lineman. Fuga finished second in the heavyweight division at the state wrestling championships. He earned a 3.75 GPA. 'He's any coach's dream,' Edison football coach Dave White said.