Under Sefo Liufau’s watch, the ship never goes down.
course, that is a bit of an exaggerated allegory. Liufau has never been a
brave-faced, seven-seas sailor — but plays one for the Bellarmine Prep
football team. He is the starting quarterback, and is vying to bring the
local private Catholic school its first state football championship.
much for the things he does off the field as what he does on it —
values that do not show up in a statistics ledger — Liufau has been
selected The News Tribune’s 2012 All-Area football player of the year.
numbers make him worthy: During his 37 career games as a starter,
Liufau has passed for 6,799 yards and 63 touchdowns. He has rushed for
another 566 yards and 17 scores.
Even with a new starting tailback
(Lou Millie), and a transfer No. 1 receiving target (Garrett McKay),
Liufau has put together his best season as a senior — completing
154 of his 226 passes for 2,020 yards and 19 touchdowns.
his record as a three-year starter? 33-4 as the Lions prepare for their
Class 4A state semifinal game Saturday against Auburn.
so much more to this soft-spoken, kind-hearted, too-good-to-be-true
leader of the Lions. He plays for team goals before individual, even
though his skill set rivals that of Skyline High’s Max Browne and King’s
High’s Billy Green — two quarterbacks who post ridiculous numbers in
He greatly respects others — his
coaches, teammates and opponents — as well as what life throws at him.
That comes from being the oldest of three siblings in a traditional
Somoan household where his father, Joe, is retired from the U.S. Army.
is both disciplined and patient — a direct byproduct of having both a
special-needs brother and sister who suffer from various disabilities.
his love, thirst and passion to absorb information, to communicate that
to teammates — and to produce winning results — seem unquenchable. The
6-foot-4, 225-pounder will take all of that to the University of
Colorado on a full-ride scholarship starting next fall.
the leadership is both God-given and also from the way my dad raised me
— always telling me to pick my teammates up, to always be there for
them and have a positive attitude,” Liufau said. “I am always upbeat, I
always try and bring teammates up and I never look down at a
His father thinks the heavy learning started in
Jensen Gymnasium on the base at Fort Lewis. As a youth, Liufau used to
be a ballboy for his father’s athletic teams, but graduated to being a
basketball team member as a sixth grader — playing against grown
“Some of the soldiers would tell me, ‘Man, you got a
good one (son) there,’ ” Joe Liufau said. “They would teach him, and he
would listen. That is where his leadership came from.”
Visitation Catholic in South Tacoma, Sefo Liufau enrolled at Bellarmine
Prep in 2009. He spent his ninth-grade season running the veer offense
on the freshman team, then turned out for varsity basketball.
winter, the Lions hired Brian Jensen as their new offensive
coordinator. The former Curtis High and Central Washington quarterback
had been at Bellarmine Prep once before, but left for a while to coach
“The thing I was most impressed with was Sefo’s
eagerness to learn, and his maturity,” Jensen said. “And he wasn’t just
memorizing stuff — he was learning it. … He would take something from
the film room and immediately apply it on the field. That is rare. There
are guys like that. But most quarterbacks are repetition-type guys, and
need to do it that way before they can really see it.”
first season, Liufau threw for 2,526 yards and 21 touchdowns, leading
the Lions to the 4A semifinals before losing to Ferris.
grew in operating Jensen’s pro-style offense — one that demands a
run-pass balance — the Lions began taking off, winning back-to-back
Narrows League 4A titles, and reaching the state playoff in each of the
quarterback’s three seasons.
“What he does for his team on a daily
basis — solid leadership and his unselfishness — you can tell his team
respects him by the way it plays around him,” Lakes High School coach
Dave Miller said. “He is a high-character kid. His experience is
unbelievable. And Brian has helped him take his game to a whole new
Every time Joe Liufau thinks about a story Millie’s mother
relayed to him a year ago, it makes him laugh. It also reinforces the
kind of unquestioned leader his son has become in the Bellarmine Prep
“There was a game when Michael Rector (now at Stanford)
was dehydrated and cramping up,” Joe Liufau said. “West (O’Brien) runs
into the huddle. It was his first time being on the field, and he was
“Sefo turns to him and says, ‘Just like practice, West!
Run your route and look for the ball.’ He called the play, and made West
feel he had been in the huddle all season.
“Lou went home that night and told his mom it was like something seen in a movie.”
there were ever two qualities that define Sefo Liufau’s legacy at
Bellarmine Prep, they would be calmness and confidence. He has been the
rock of the program. Think of him as the wily captain of his ship.
feel like being a great leader is what I want to be remembered as — not
for the stats or all the wins, but someone who has been there for all
of his teammates, kicking them in the butt when I needed to, but also
someone who fought for them until the end,” Liufau said.