Vaka Tuifua May Be the Best Defensive Line Prospect in Oklahoma and Now he's a Champion
EDMOND – The tears falling down the face of the big 6-3, 310 pound football player were tears of joy, the kind that only a few young football players get to experience in the month of December. Most of the high school football players in Oklahoma have turned in their helmet and shoulder pads, but this hefty move-in from Alaska was on the field at Wantland Stadium celebrating with his Poteau Pirate teammates after edging a stout Weatherford High School team 9-7 to win the Oklahoma Class 4A State Championship.
We first told you about Vaka Tuifua in June when we saw him at Oklahoma State’s Down and Dirty Lineman Camp impressing just about everybody with his strength, rare athleticism for such a big man, and his desire. Tuifua came to Poteau from about as far north as people live in the nation’s 49 state. Tuifua played football in Barrow, Alaska, but the move to Oklahoma certainly picked up his game and there are coaches, including Zach Allen, the head coach at NEO A&M Junior College that believe Vaka is the best defensive lineman in the class of 2020 in the state of Oklahoma.
“He is really gifted and the times I’ve watched him in person or when I’ve watched video, he rarely gets blocked and if he doesn’t make the play then he certainly influences and spills the play to ready teammates,” Allen said.
There was plenty of that in the state championship win over Weatherford as Tuifua made just two tackles, both unassisted in the game, but he was constantly getting push up the middle and forcing Weatherford to go one way. In the second half when the Eagles had to pass, Tuifua was rushing the passer down after down and keeping the Eagles quarterback from having any extra time to spy receivers and allow them to get open. Weatherford could only rush for 70-yards and had a total offense of 210-yards. They did not score their only touchdown until there were two minutes left in the game.
“I’m speechless, I don’t have any words,” Tuifua said of the championship. He did add that the defensive game plan when as they wanted it to. “I did what I had to and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
We don't have complete numbers on Tuifua's season, but going game to game we found 44 unassisted tackles with 52 tackles total and six sacks to go with countless hurries. If those are his total numbers those are a bunch for a nose tackle. Like we saw in the championship win, he gets significant push up the middle on nearly every snap.
Now the recruiting really kicks in for this late bloomer and late prospect to be noticed. He could go to NEO A&M, even though he is a qualifier, and give himself a change to be noticed by more schools that might have a scholarship open. Beni Tonga, who has helped Oklahoma State increase their Polynesian culture players in the Cowboys program is well aware of Tuifua and he was a guest of Oklahoma State for an unofficial visit to the Bedlam game last Saturday. He also got a call from Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells before Poteau left Thursday for Edmond and the state championship game.
“I know this is a bittersweet ending for this team,” Tuifua said of the fact that they win the championship and now won’t play together again. “I know that there is going to be success for a lot of the members of this team besides me.”
Yes, but the big football warrior of Tongan heritage also knows there is plenty of success for him down the line. He has good grades and great talent on the gridiron. This is a very promising football prospect even if we all found him a little later in his high school career.