Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Serra's Emerald Faletuipapai trying to lead Cavaliers to title
If it's lunchtime at Gardena Serra and 6-foot-7, 360-pound offensive tackle Emerald Faletuipapai walks into a room, everyone hides his or her food.
"I eat anything and everything," he said.
Said Coach Scott Altenberg: "If there's food anywhere, it must be protected. He's in constant grazing mode."
Faletuipapai is so big that Serra had to order a special helmet to fit his head.
"It looks like a flowerpot," Altenberg said.
He also wears size 18 shoes.
Two of Faletuipapai's brothers played football for Serra. Emerald will be trying to earn a CIF state championship bowl ring Saturday when the Cavaliers (13-2) play Oakdale in the Division II game at 4 p.m. at the Home Depot Center.
Faletuipapai, who's Tongan, has a scholarship offer from Hawaii and is taking a recruiting visit to Houston. He's a leader on an improving offensive line that creates opportunities for versatile quarterback Jalen Greene.
Altenberg remembers Faletuipapai when he was a seventh-grader and served as a ball boy. "He was the hugest kid we'd ever seen," the coach said.
Said Faletuipapai: "They didn't know I was in middle school."
In 2009, Faletuipapai watched his brother Suli play on a 15-0 Serra team led by current USC receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Now it's his turn to play at the Home Depot Center.
"This year is a dream come true," he said.
Faletuipapai has many talents besides football and eating. He's in the school choir and plays guitar. He's the vocal person when the team sings before and after games.