It is the coaches’ policy at Bellarmine Prep that no freshmen play varsity football.
Dating back to the 1980s, freshmen played on the freshman team. But last year, coach Tom Larsen made an exception.
After the freshman team wrapped up its season undefeated, Larsen called a handful of players up to the varsity. Each got in on at least one varsity play. All except for one.
“I really wanted to be out there with them,” Lions sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau said.
Unfortunately for Liufau, there were two senior quarterbacks ahead of him. But he has taken full advantage of his limited time on the varsity squad.
“Now that I’m here, it’s a really great experience playing with my teammates and the coaching staff,” Liufau said. “I look forward to every Friday.”
The 6-foot-3, 212-pound sophomore has led the Lions to a 4-0 start this season. Liufau has completed 53 of 88 passes for 793 yards and four touchdowns.
Liufau, along with a strong core of sophomores, has helped raise the bar for Bellarmine.
“That kind of challenges everybody,” Larsen said. “It also encourages everybody. Here comes a sophomore who is trying (his) best, and learning (his) responsibilities. The competition level has kind of produced some nice fruit for us.”
Even though he has seen action in just four varsity games, Liufau has already caught the attention of the University of Oregon.
“He’s intelligent, very coachable and obviously athletic,” Larsen said. “He’s obviously doing many things that we haven’t seen out of a quarterback here in a long time.”
One of those things happened last Friday at home against Mount Tahoma. Liufau, a right-hander, threw a 45-yard bomb right into the chest of his receiver while running to his left. Unfortunately for the Lions, the catch was ruled out of bounds.
But Liufau showed his strength and accuracy are traits opponents can’t take lightly.
During his youth football days, Liufau played center and on the defensive line.
He always played up a level until he reached fifth grade, when he made the switch to quarterback.
“(Playing quarterback) is really a challenge,” Liufau said. “It really tests you and sees if you know your plays.”
As a freshman, Liufau became a starter on the Lions’ varsity basketball team four games into the season. The multi-sport standout doesn’t favor one sport over the other – yet.
For now, it is all about football and seeing how long the Lions’ winning streak can continue. Bellarmine Prep faces a big test tonight when it travels to Central Kitsap.
Larsen played football at Washington State University during the 1970s with Samoan quarterback Jack Thompson.
After watching Thompson’s career flourish, Larsen is excited for the bright future of Liufau, who is half-Samoan.
“Watching this young man at the stage he is in,” Larsen said, “I know the sky’s the limit.”