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Friday, January 29, 2010

Arroyo Valley's Fifita chooses Fresno State

San Bernardino Arroyo Valley linebacker Ofa Fifita has chosen to attend Fresno State on a football scholarship, Hawks coach Marcus Soward said Friday morning (Jan. 29) by phone.

Fifita (6-2, 220, with a 3.4 GPA) is the third Inland football player to choose the Bulldogs within the past five days, the others being Rancho Cucamonga quarterback Greg Watson and Banning athlete Derron Smith.

"We're very excited -- everyone around here is going nuts," Soward said from the telephone in his English class at Arroyo Valley. "We're very proud. He was very impressed (with Fresno State). Pat Hill is a great coach and he came down here a few days ago and was very genuine and down to earth. They win and graduate kids and I think it's a great fit."

Hill is a Lake Arrowhead Rim of the World graduate, who has been mining the Inland area with great success.

The Arroyo Valley standout had 133 tackles this season, averaging 12.1 per game for the 7-4 Hawks. He also had seven sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery and six caused fumbles.

Last season Arroyo Valley blue-chip offensive lineman Michael Philipp accepted a scholarship to Oregon State, where he earned freshman All-America honors in 2009.

Soward had the opportunity to coach both standouts.

"Ofa is very similar to Mike (Philipp) in that he's a very humble, model teenager and a workaholic. Nobody is more deserving."

Fifita is regarded as a three-star recruit by at least one scouting service. He also had scholarshop offers from San Jose State, Nevada and Hawaii.

The Hawk standout visited Fresno State last weekend, along with Watson and Smith. He previously visited Nevada and was thought to be taking a visit to Hawaii this weekend, but changed his mind.

Fifita has an older brother, Sione, who was an all-area tight end for San Bernardino Cajon in 2000. Sione received a scholarship to San Diego State.

Another Fifita brother, Manu, started at linebacker for coach Tony DiThomas at Arroyo in the early 2000s and still another, Foaki, played at Cajon.

DiThomas, now an assistant at Cajon, was the coach at Arroyo Valley when Ofa Fifita entered the program four years ago.

"We could tell as a freshman he was going to be a great player," DiThomas said by phone. "From the time he walked in during the spring as a sophomore, we had him penciled in as a mike linebacker. He's a great kid and a hard worker, from a great family."

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