American football dream realized

Buena senior lineman Malauulu making most of chance to play stateside

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SIERRA VISTA — The funny thing about Buena’s 78-57 loss at Tempe Marcos de Niza last Friday, was that the Buena defensive front won the line of scrimmage. The only problem was, Marcos de Niza didn’t care about the line of scrimmage. For the Padres, the line of scrimmage was constantly moving, darting, juking, dodging in the form of star quarterback Josh Eckley. Though the Colts got consistent penetration, they couldn’t do much once they got there.

The Colt who had the most success quarterback hunting was senior defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu, who recorded two of Buena’s three sacks, had six tackles and got plenty more hits on the elusive Padre signal-caller.

For the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Malauulu, it was his best showing to date as he tries to make up for lost time.

Coming from a military family, Malauulu moved from Texas to California, Georgia and Hawaii before his family was shipped to Korea. There, the level of high school football is considerably lower than what it is stateside, and though Malauulu may have dominated there, he longed to see how he’d stack up in America.

“There was football there, but the competition level wasn’t as high; there’s bigger boys over here, definitely,” he said. “I always wanted to play stateside and I’m glad my dad took the PCS (Permanent Change of Station) out here. I ended up with a good group of guys.”

Malauulu arrived in Sierra Vista last winter, and by the time training camp rolled around, he had to quickly navigate the learning curve to fit into the speed at which the Colts, and this year’s first three opponents, play.

“It’s a different atmosphere, much more commitment out here,” he said. “I just had to come out here and work that much harder. It comes with the territory.”

Friday night, the Colts face their biggest game of the season to date, when they look to knock off defending Division II state champion Ironwood Ridge on the Nighthawks’ home field. With a win, the Colts can improve to 2-2 and leave the roughest part of their schedule behind them as an unqualified success.

To beat the Nighthawks, offense alone won’t do it, especially with leading rusher Dominique Drake limited in practice this week because of a sprained ankle he suffered at Marcos, and without last year’s leading receiver Cliff Taylor, whom Buena head coach Ryan Scherling hopes will be back in time for next Friday’s home game with Douglas. A defense that’s given up an average of 63 points per game through the first three weeks will need more than the mere three stops it made last week if the Colts are to have a chance.

“We’re really strapping it down, trying to execute and get rid of the mistakes we’ve had the last couple of weeks,” he said. “It takes a toll on us. Losing, a lot of people in this locker room, they don’t like to lose, and I’m in with them. I don’t like to lose and we’re just trying to change that around.”

Scherling has been impressed with how quickly Malauulu’s caught up.

“He’s done a good job adapting,” Scherling said. “The biggest thing you look for in defensive linemen is guys who don’t take plays off, and I think it’s taken him some time to understand that. He played well against Marcos and I expect him to have a big game against Ironwood Ridge.”

Malauulu said he hopes to play college football, but coming stateside as late as he did, he knows he’s behind the curve on the recruiting game.

“Nobody really knows me because I just moved out here,” he said. “But it’s all the same, I guess. Overseas, those guys want to play football and win, too. I just got lucky to have the chance to come play stateside.”

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