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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

IT'S TINO TIME: Dysart defensive tackle from Samoa dominates while learning game

Richard Smith Surprise Today | 0 comments
“Tino, go get them.”
That defensive play call of sorts, uttered on occasion by Dysart coach Andrew Garrett, won’t land Fa’asagua Tinoisamoa a spot in a manual.
But it’s a measure of how, even in the ultimate team game, a rare individual talent makes everything simple.
As a true nose tackle in the Demons’ 5-2 alignment, Tinoisamoa racked up a team-high 87 tackles and 17 sacks as a junior in 2011.
The kicker — it was only his second season of organized football.
“When that kid decides he wants something, he’s going to do it. Sometimes we have to be a little careful because he can be overaggressive and jump offsides,” Garrett said. “But in certain situations, we tell him to go on first sound or first movement and we let him blow stuff up. When the game’s on the line, you can turn to Tino and say, ‘Hey, make a play,’ and he’ll do it for you.”
Three years ago, football, much less making a career out of it, was the furthest thing from Tinoisamoa’s mind. He was in his native American Samoa attending an honor school and focusing on his grades.
While football is in his blood — first cousin Pisa Tinoisamoa is an eight-year NFL veteran and another cousin plays at Wyoming — sports weren’t in the picture.
Months before his sophomore year, his family moved to Arizona for educational reasons.
Football came about mostly because of coaches’ curiosity about the new 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore on campus.
“It was hard that first year. Football was so different and even learning and teaching were different than in Samoa,” Tinoisamoa said. “It’s hard to adapt to the way of life out here. I just want to come out here for a better opportunity — there’s a lot more opportunities than there is in Samoa.”
Surprisingly, learning how to play a new sport came more naturally than attending an American high school.
Tinoisamoa started the first game of his football career, recording three sacks in a 2010 win at Flagstaff.
“He was really raw, but right from the beginning we knew we had something special,” Garrett said. “The potential in the kid is huge. I would say he’s about halfway on his rise to what he’s going to become.”
Naturally soft-spoken, Tinoisamoa is even more reserved in his second language. But life in El Mirage has become more enjoyable.
While there’s still a bit of cultural disconnect on his part, few Arizona schools are more comfortable for a Samoan. In recent years, several families from the islands have moved to El Mirage.
Garrett said three Samoan football players graduated in May, and two more joined Tinoisamoa on the varsity this fall.

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