The week leading up to the 4A state football semifinal game between Las Vegas and McQueen was marred by who wasn't going to play for the Lancers. But when the dust settled there was a lot of talk about who did play.
Lancer linebacker Fono Asi was questionable after tearing a ligament in his elbow during the Northern 4A regional championship against Galena, but returned to be a big part of McQueen's 34-20 win over the Wildcats.
"I wasn't even worried about it," Asi said about the injury. "I knew I'd be back, I just had to do what I had to do."
What Asi had to do was wear a brace on his elbow and only play about half of the game. But the junior made the most out of the situation.
The Wildcats had just taken possession at their own 37-yard line with four minutes, 17 seconds left in the second quarter after McQueen scored the go-ahead touchdown to make it 14-7. Before the ball was snapped, Asi read the play and pointed to the offensive line. He moved back into coverage as the ball was snapped and picked off a Marvin Campbell pass at the 42-yard line.
"Our defensive coaches like to go over our scout readings, so I just have to give big ups to our defensive coach (Jim Snelling)," Asi said. "They had the slot (receiver) and all I did was read the guard and he was there."
The interception led to an Anthony Martinez 26-yard touchdown reception five plays later to give the Lancers a 21-7 lead at the half.
"They have very good linebackers," Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said. "The big kid is very fast, (Alex) LaVoy, and then the other kid (No.) 45 (Asi) is a very good football player. We were kind of hoping he got dinged up last week but he didn't. That's just how they raise them here, you've got certain standards to live up to if you are a McQueen football player."
Perhaps no one was happier to see Asi's return than LaVoy, who had intercepted a ball from Campbell late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for the Lancers.
"That was a big deal," LaVoy said. "Fono's my linebacker and I don't think I could do it without him."