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Friday, January 08, 2010

Vei Moala CalHiSports Jr POY

2009 State Junior Player of the Year:
Vei Moala (Grant, Sacramento)

It was not a very big surprise that the hugely impressive 6-3, 330-pound lineman was named by the Sacramento Bee as its Defensive Player of the Year after leading a defense that opened the season with five straight shutouts. But it is unusual for a lineman to be the State Junior Player of the Year.

At just 16 years old, the so-called monster in the middle recorded 104 tackles and 15 sacks as the Pacers' defense combined to set a state record for sacks in a season with 77. The Pacers' defense on the year also recorded eight shutouts and allowed an average of under six points per game despite at times resting Moala in the second half of blowout victories.

Moala, who also was a force blocking up front on offense, had three sacks when Grant beat Bellevue, Wash., and also had three sacks in a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game. In another playoff game, Moala blocked one punt and on a different blocked punt he grabbed it out of the air and scored.
After first making a name for himself by plugging the middle and helping to stuff the Long Beach Poly running game during Grant's memorable win in the 2008 CIF Open Division state bowl game, Moala figures to be one of the very best college prospects in the nation next season.

Sacramento's and Grant's last junior player of the year for the state was Syd-Quan Thompson in 2003. He ended up as one of the nation's top cover corners at Cal and should be a top three-round pick in the next NFL Draft.

The last lineman to be state junior of the year was Manny Fernandez of San Lorenzo in 1962. Fernandez went on to star in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins and was a member of the Dolphins' famed 1972 undefeated team.

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