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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tofi PaoPao eyes third consecutive Division II Section Championship berth

One word seemingly describes Tofi PaoPao — winner.
In three seasons directing the Oceanside Pirates offense, the senior has tallied a 30-7-1 record, claimed a Division II Section Championship, five playoff victories, two championship appearances, 10 league victories, an Avocado West League title and secured three first-round byes.
Oh, and the two-time All-Leaguer has thrown for 6,329 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career thus far.
PaoPao isn’t quite finished, though.
Tonight, the quarterback guides Oceanside (10-1) against regular season section passing leader Ramsey Romano and the Valhalla Norsemen (9-3) in the Division II Semifinals. The winner is awarded a berth to play either Helix or Poway for the championship.
Advantage, PaoPao.
“Anybody at the end of the season at quarterback, if they’re healthy, you have to assume they will be better than they were in week 1. That’s just the experience factor,” Oceanside coach John Carroll said.
“However, Tofi has as much experience as any quarterback can possibly have at this point because he’s been here before. This is his third year of starting and third consecutive semifinals appearance.”
Last year, PaoPao completed only 5-of-16 passes for 54 yards in a semifinals 27-7 victory over La Costa Canyon. The most important stat, however, came in the turnover column. He made zero mistakes.
This year, with an expanded role and veteran savvy, expect more.
“You approach every game, whether playoffs or not, like it’s the same game. Every game we play is huge,” PaoPao said.
“Yeah, if we win, we go to the championship, but if you dwell on that too much, you place a great deal more pressure on your shoulders than you need. No matter if it’s the first game of the season or the last game, it’s the same game.”
Carroll describes PaoPao as the “true field general”, who has complete command of the offense. While that can be said for any quarterback in the San Diego section, the difference between him and those other field generals lies in the responsibilities.
PaoPao has full autonomy in operating the offense.
“Unlike any quarterback who plays the game at the high school level, Tofi makes pre-snap reads, redirects coverage, protections, routes and changes plays at the line of scrimmage for us,” Carroll said.
“That’s unique at the college level, so that’s completely unique at the high school level.”
Through thirteen games, he threw for 1746 yards, nine touchdowns and five picks in 2011. Through 11 games this year — seven of those games routes, which Carroll rested his starters in the fourth quarters — PaoPao compiled 2,196 yards, 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions
“Guys look at me as a leader. Since sophomore year, I haven’t really had that role because of the experienced guys on the team then,” PaoPao said.
“But now, it falls on my shoulders. That means putting in the work to be better. I would come here at 5 o’ clock in the morning, before school starts, to work on my craft, work on my footwork to improve.”

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