A quarterback with more than the game on the line
By Zach Landres-Schnur
Special to The Seattle Times
EVERETT — Mariner High School quarterback Tyler Tuiasosopo knows what his last name means in the Northwest.
"It's pretty cool to have the last name and it's something I take the pride in having," said Tuiasosopo, a 16-year-old junior. "I'm pretty proud to have that last name."
Cousins Marques, Zach and Matt were Woodinville High School standouts and both Marques and Zach shone at the University of Washington. Brother Trenton starred at Mariner and is playing for the Huskies, and uncle Manu was a defensive lineman for the Seahawks.
But with the unparalleled success of the Tuiasosopo family come high expectations.
But those expectations are not just because of Tuiasosopo's last name, but also because of his unrelenting work habits and positive attitude.
"Me and my dad will break down film together," said Tuiasosopo of his father, Sina, "because it's something to study and I just want to study every night."
The studying has paid off. Tyler has led the Marauders from the Mukilteo School District to a 5-1 start (4-1 in the WesCo South Division. In six games, he has completed 49 of 94 passes for 728 yards, with 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Mariner coach John Ondriezek attributes Tuiasosopo's success to his remarkable work habits.
"He does everything that he can do to prepare himself," said Ondriezek. "He goes into the game expecting to do well, not a cockiness, just he's done everything [he can] do to prepare. He knows he's prepared himself the best he could."
Tyler Tuiasosopo has been taught well. He is very close with his older brother Trenton, a linebacker for UW, and speaks with him often about football. On Fridays Trenton, when he has some downtime in the hotel before a Huskies game, will call his father to get constant updates on how Mariner and Tyler are performing.
"My help with Tyler is more helping him be a team member," said Trenton. "In the end, it's all about the team."
The closeness of the family is also why the Tuiasosopos take a loss so hard.
"I take a lot of pride in the Huskies because I love my brother," said Tyler, who is 6 feet 1, 205 pounds.
"Whenever he loses, I feel the loss along with my family. We take a lot of pride in that."
Being a junior, Tuiasosopo is not the vocal leader speaking up in the locker room at halftime. But leadership is nothing new to him.
"He takes charge on the football field which is what you need from a quarterback," said Ondriezek. "Regardless of the situation, he keeps his poise."
Adds Tuiasosopo, "I want to be the guy the team looks up to. When the team's down and out, they look to somebody for leadership. I hope that I can be that guy to where they look to."
Mariner looked to Tuiasosopo in its 27-21 win over Snohomish earlier this season. He tied the game late in the fourth quarter on a 37-yard touchdown pass and won it in overtime on a one-yard TD run.
Think Tyler is the last of the Tuiasosopos? Nope. His brother Mychael, 15, is a freshman tight end/defensive end for the Marauders' freshman squad. And the youngest in the immediate family is Bethany, who is 14. He also has an older sister, Lindsay, 19, who is the manager of the volleyball team at Washington.
Being the eldest of five, Trenton Tuiasosopo has been given the privilege of watching his siblings follow the same path that he walked, not too long ago.
"It's real exciting and something else to see the cycle come almost full circle," he said. "Me coming through Mariner, my brother Tyler there being quarterback, and finally my youngest brother, Mychael, on the freshman team is an amazing feeling."
"My family's always on the move," said Tyler Tuiasosopo. "There's never a downtime or dull moment. It's always good to stay active with our family. If it's not a game, it's a practice. If it's not a practice, it's a school activity. Family support is really big. Family's always first."