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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cousins Julius Tevaga, Tani Tupou lead Archbishop Murphy

Special to The Seattle Times

It's called the "Haka."
And for attendees of Archbishop Murphy football games, the sight might evoke a scene from the Denzel Washington film "Remember the Titans" — the one where the team first enters the stadium dancing together.
For the Wildcats, like the Titans in the movie, the "Haka" is about team unity.
But the Hawaiian war chant and dance is so much more.
"It's a war dance. It gets us hyped up on game nights," Wildcats senior offensive and defensive lineman Julius Tevaga said. "We do it facing the opponents."
Tevaga, along with his cousin and fellow senior lineman Tani Tupou, introduced the Hawaiian tradition to their team.
"Tani really developed it," Archbishop Murphy coach Dave Ward said. "He and Julius taught the team to do the dance. They both just play with a lot of passion and emotion."
A week before the season was set to kick off, against Ellensburg on Friday, the team welcomed some 400 people to a fundraising luau, another Hawaiian import. But in the "Haka" the Wildcats can find so many pieces that translate onto the football field.
"It's originally from New Zealand," said Tupou, who was the first in-state recruit to commit to the Washington Huskies' 2011 class. "From the Maori people. They'd do it before they'd go out to war. It's saying we're here to fight, to give it our all for family, community."But it's more. It has to do with duty and honor, too."
For Tupou, Tevaga and the rest of this year's Archbishop Murphy senior class, honor and duty ring very true. They are the final class to have played for coach Terry Ennis, who passed away early in their freshman season.
"We want to be able to go all the way," Tupou said. "Everyone in this class really wants to do it for him."
Don't get these two seniors wrong. They really appreciate their current coaching staff.
"Coach Ward is a great coach," Tupou said. "He has done such good things carrying on here."
Both just see this season as a way to honor and pay tribute to Ennis.
"One of the reasons we came here was coach Ennis," Tevaga said. "What he did in the past. He was a big role model for us. This is special for us and for Murphy."
If 2010 is to be that special season for the Wildcats, it will start up front with Tupou and Tevaga. The cousins anchor the left side of the offensive line, protecting senior quarterback Austin VanderWel.
For most of last season, Ward actually had the two on opposite sides. But by playoff time, he'd moved them together.
"We wanted to have teams forced to compensate for them," Ward said. "I just love watching them block. They finish guys off, drive guys into the ground."
Ward isn't the only one who enjoys the sight. So, apparently, do the cousins' teammates.
"Our blocking schemes are like synchronized," Tupou said. "We were watching film the other day, and we had a zone block. On the film, both of our hands came up at exactly the same time. Everyone was laughing at it."At least for this season, Tupou and Tevaga will continue to wreak havoc with opponents together. After that?
Tupou already is set at the UW, along with another cousin, Jarett Finau of Juanita. Tevaga has yet to receive any college offers, though the letters continue to arrive.
"I just want to get to college, and get my degree," Tevaga said. "Wherever I go, football will hopefully be a part. If I do get to play at the next level, it would be fun to play with Tani. We've been playing together for so long."
If that happens, who knows? Maybe Tupou and Tevaga can add the "Haka" to the tradition at Washington.

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