BARSTOW • Tulilo Tofi looked as if he was in another universe.
Down 27-20 against Silverado on Saturday and driving to tie the game, the Barstow High School quarterback looked unaffected by his surroundings with the right to play in the CIF-Southern Section Eastern Division Championship game on the line.
An extended injury timeout between the third and fourth quarters created a half hour of down time during the semifinal matchup. Tofi disappeared while coaches and trainers attended to Silverado defensive back Richard Espinoza’s broken arm.
At 6-foot-2-inches tall, Tofi is hard to miss. Still you had to search for him while he was lounging in the grass on the Barstow sideline.
Stress isn’t a word to associate with Tofi.
“When I do get mad at something, I don’t show it,” Tofi said. “I play it up.”
In the midst of a chaotic game with bodies flying, Tofi is the calm center of the storm. When defenders rush him, Tofi carefully
sidesteps them like he’s swatting away bugs.
Against Palm Springs in the second round of the playoffs, Tofi completed a pass while nearly being sacked in the end zone for a safety. He waited until the last possible moment. Then, with a defender on him, he absorbed the hit, let the ball fly to DaMario Webb, picking up a first down.
If there’s something that bothers him, his teammates aren’t even aware of it.
Senior Steven Locke said Tofi occasionally gets frustrated in practice, but that’s it.
“Sometimes when he’s calling the play he’s really quiet,” Locke said. “You can’t hear him at all.”
Jonas Niusulu said Tofi never gets upset.
“He’s very composed,” Dex Yarber said. “He never gets bothered.”
Tofi hasn’t been groomed to be quarterback. In fact, his start on Saturday against Citrus Hill in the CIF-SS Eastern Division Final will be just his 10th start behind center.