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Friday, December 04, 2009

MVPs excelled on and off the field for their teams

4A MVP: Ofa Latu, Timpview

Coaches dream about a player with Latu's versatility, and Timpview's coaching staff didn't let those talents go to waste.

When Timpview needed a linebacker to spy Mountain Crest quarterback Alex Kuresa in the semifinals so he didn't scramble for big rushing yards, Latu was the guy. In the championship game against Springville, the T-Birds weren't worried about a scrambling quarterback, so they had Latu play over the tight end and jam him to disrupt the passing game.

He excelled in both games for Timpview's dominant defense and recorded four interceptions in those two games.

"He understands the game. He has great football savvy as far as field presence and looking at an offense and seeing what they're trying to do and distract and disrupt it," said Timpview coach Louis Wong.

Latu became the heart of Timpview's defense when Bronson Kaufusi went down with a knee injury, and his versatility was a big reason why the T-Birds only allowed 13.8 points per game this season. At times, he even played on the defensive line when necessary, and he could've played in the secondary if necessary, too, according to Wong.

Despite his 80 tackles, five interceptions and one sack this season, at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Latu is viewed as being too undersized to play Division I football by college coaches. Wong said he understands that Latu doesn't pass the initial "eyeball" test, but for the past two years he's seen just how dominant his linebacker can be.

"His ability to play where we need him based on what an offense is trying to do to us was big for us," said Wong. Latu was a low-key kid throughout the season, someone who wanted to do his job, and in the process he led Timpview to a fourth straight state championship.

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