Already a 340-pound blip on every major NCAA Division I football program's recruiting radar, Grant High School junior lineman Vei Moala is going to need a bigger mailbox after Friday's game against Fairfield in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.
Videotape of Moala's performance in No. 3 Grant's 66-12 demolishing of the No. 6 Falcons will show Moala dominating from both sides of the ball. On defense, Moala had nine tackles, three sacks, deflected a pass, gathered a tipped punt and scored from five yards out to give the Pacers a 24-0 lead. On Fairfield's first possession of the second half, trailing 38-12, Moala blocked a punt, and three plays later Grant scored on a Devontae Butler 13-yard run.
"Vei is just so strong. He bench presses 400 pounds and takes on double teams almost every play," said Pacers head coach Mike Alberghini. "He has a tremendous will to get the job done and a lot of big kids can't make that play he did for the score (tipped punt). Just think what he's going to be like when he turns 17 years old."
Fairfield's defensive linemen wanted no part of Moala, a lineman in Grant's potent offense that has averaged 65 points this postseason. The Falcons resorted to diving at his feet or, on several plays in the third quarter, actually moving backward at the snap without any contact, as if in pass protection.
Butler was his usual prolific self, scoring on runs of 18, one, 13, 42, 60 and 75 and finishing with 292 yards on just 18 carries. Grant ran just 20 offensive plays in the first half.
Grant opened the game with a 90-yard kickoff return for a score by Shaquille Thompson. Syd Thompson, a Grant alum and a starting cornerback for Cal, drove from Berkeley to watch his little brother and his alma mater advance to the D-II semifinals against No. 2 Rocklin, which beat No. 10 Atwater on Friday 35-6.
The game will be played at a neutral site to be determined.