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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tyler Tuiasosopo draws on skills, not family name

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Tuiasosopo draws on skills, not family name

By DARREN FESSENDEN
SPECIAL TO THE P-I

EVERETT -- Far easier is it to rest on lineage than laurels. Having a recognizable name often takes precedence over having "game."

But for Tyler Tuiasosopo, his on-field shrewdness has caught up with the attention given to his surname. The junior quarterback for Mariner High School has guided the Marauders to a 4-1 record and offered hope to a program that hasn't done much the past two seasons.

Tyler Tuiasosopo
ZoomGrant M. Haller / P-I
Tyler Tuiasosopo's relatives include former NFL player Manu (uncle) and former Huskies and current Oakland Raider Marques (cousin).

The last time the Marauders were this good, Tyler's brother, Trenton, was the headliner when Mariner went 9-2 in 2003. The all-state linebacker and tight end now plays at Washington.

With identical win-loss patterns, Tyler and Trenton have more than brotherly love in common. Washington's lone loss -- Oklahoma -- came on the same weekend Mariner lost its only game.

"Whenever he wins, I win," Tyler said. "Whenever he loses, I lose."

Tyler's uncle, Manu Tuiasosopo, was an NFL player with the Seahawks and 49ers and his first cousin, Marques Tuiasosopo, plays for the Raiders.

"It's cool because Marques gives me a lot of tips (in the offseason)," Tyler said.

The turning point for Mariner (4-1, 3-1 Wesco South), interestingly, came in a loss during its second game. The Marauders overcame a 21-point third-quarter deficit at Edmonds-Woodway by scoring once in the third and twice in the final minute before losing by a point.

"At halftime, I just took myself aside and prayed to God that I would glorify him and help lead the team," said Tuiasosopo, a devout Christian.

Consecutive victories over Jackson, Meadowdale and Snohomish have created a quiet confidence for the Marauders.

"I think that (Edmonds-Woodway game) triggered these last three weeks," Tuiasosopo said.

It has also triggered some gaudy numbers for Tuiasosopo, who also is the punter and recently moved into Mariner's linebacker rotation.

Tuiasosopo is 44 of 82 (54 percent) for 704 yards. But it's his touchdown-to-interception ratio that most impresses Mariner coach John Ondriezek.

With 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions, the 6-foot, 200-pounder has demonstrated strong decision-making skills.

Tyler Tuiasosopo
ZoomGrant M. Haller / P-I
Tyler Tuiasosopo, a junior quarterback for Mariner High School, has led the Marauders to a 4-1 start this season.

"He's a student of the game," said Ondriezek, who is 83-50 (including a 3A state championship in 1998) in 12-plus seasons at Mariner. "He watches film on his own."

Having matched their 2005 win total before October, the Tuiasosopo-led Marauders have a realistic shot at doubling it before the playoffs begin.

"He's a winner. He's going to find a way to win," Ondriezek said. "He's never going to quit."

With winnable games against Shorecrest, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace coming up, the Marauders could be 7-1 by Oct. 27.

That's when they play undefeated Kamiak in a rivalry game to end all in South Everett.

"It would be a great thing for the community," Tuiasosopo said. "Especially over here -- with two Mukilteo teams at the top. We'd have the whole community razzed up."

It already is razzed up, due to the exceptional play and poise of yet another Tuiasosopo.

"Not only is he an outstanding athlete, but more importantly, he is an outstanding person," Ondriezek said.

Tuiasosopo, who leads a group of players in prayer before each game, said he wants none of the fanfare. Instead, he said he's content living daily in a realm unmeasurable: his faith.

"God is always first in our family," he said. "Sports is always last."

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