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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Greenway's Taase lives large on and off football field

by Richard Obert - Oct. 1, 2009 12:17 PM
The Arizona Republic

Josh Taase fills up a room, literally and figuratively.

At 6-foot-7 and 402 pounds, that's not hard to do.

But it is his easygoing, fun nature that makes him popular among classmates and football teammates at Greenway High.

"He has worked very hard and is a very nice kid on campus," coach Mike Brown said. "He also does a mean dance/jig at our assemblies."

During games, Taase, a young junior who doesn't turn 17 until March, flings people to the wayside as he gets to running backs, playing left defensive tackle. He also starts at offensive right tackle and is the pride of the Taase family.

He is a key cog to Greenway's 3-1 start. It came into the week tied for first at 1-0 in the Class 4A Division II Black Canyon Region.

Everybody close to the lovable Taase knows his father Fasi would be proud.

When he was in the eighth grade, Josh's father died of a sudden heart attack

while cooking breakfast on Mother's Day.

"It was totally unexpected," said Tami, Josh's mom. "We lean on each other a lot. We are everything to each other. It's been hard. His dad was such a big part of the family and the neighborhood."

Fasi was Samoan and came to Arizona State to play football when John Cooper took over the program in the 1980s. He was a lineman like Josh. A knee injury shortened his football career.

He never got to see Josh play football. Josh was too big for Pop Warner in the eighth grade. He was already 6-5 and 300 pounds then. He grew up as a goalkeeper in soccer and a first baseman in baseball.

He's not sure if he'll get any bigger than he is now.

"I've slowed down," Taase said. "I grew an inch a year for the past six years, but that's stopped."

He competes in wrestling during the winter for conditioning and to improve his footwork. He competes in the shot and discus during track season.

He is also exceptional in the classroom. He recently registered with the NCAA Clearinghouse. And he got a football letter from Boise State.

"I think I'll have to drop some weight," he said. "Then get better.

"I really like defense but I'm trying to get used to the offense."

Taase said he was not so strong as a freshman, but his work in the weight room is paying off. This summer he joined the 1,000-pound club in the Greenway weight room - a combination of weight hoisted in the bench press (320), squat lift (465) and power clean (230).

He dwarfs teammates and opponents.

"Josh is by far the biggest kid I ever coached," Brown said.

He is the biggest kid on campus. And his mom said, "He's the biggest kid in all of the schools we go to."

A big kid with a huge heart.

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