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Shrine Classic: A Family Affair for Cousins : Carson, Banning Stars Will Be Together Again When South Takes the Field

July 22, 1988|ROB FERNAS | Times Staff Writer

Football rivalries cut deep into the tightknit neighborhoods of Carson, where it's not uncommon for family members and friends to play against each other in high school.

Arnold Ale and Titus Tuiasosopo are familiar with that.

The distant cousins, who are as close as brothers, played flag football together at Carnegie Junior High School in Carson before district boundaries and tradition brought an end to their on-field alliance.

Ale attended Carson High. Tuiasosopo, because his family lives east of the San Diego Freeway, followed three older brothers by attending Banning High in Wilmington.

"It was hard when we graduated (from junior high) because we wanted to play together," Ale said.

Three years and five Carson-Banning games later, Ale and Tuiasosopo will get that chance, if only for a short while. The two All-L.A. City defensive standouts will play for the South in the Shrine All-Star game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

"It's going to be different," Tuiasosopo said. "Everybody is excited, not just me and Arnold. The community is saying, 'Titus and Arnold are going to be on the same team.' I know it's going to sell tickets."

After the Shrine game, Ale and Tuiasosopo will join forces again for an all-star contest pitting teams from the L.A. City and San Diego sections on July 30 at Mesa Community College in San Diego.

Then it's back to being rivals. Ale, a 6-4, 210-pound linebacker who was named to several prep All-American teams, will play at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Tuiasosopo, a 6-2, 255-pound defensive tackle, is bound for USC.

The cousins have Nov. 26 circled on their calendars. That's the day Notre Dame meets USC at the Coliseum.

"Right now, USC is my rival," Ale said. "It's not like Banning and Carson yet because I haven't been there. I still like USC, but when it comes down to playing them, it's going to be different."

Ale and Tuiasosopo seem prepared for the challenges of college football and life away from home. Both have brothers to serve as models. Leroy Ale is an inside linebacker for Oregon, and Navy Tuiasosopo, a former lineman at Utah State, is a backup center for the Rams.

"I'm going in with a serious mind and humbleness," Tuiasosopo said. "I can't come in and think I'm going to change the team around. It's going to be like coming in as a sophomore in high school. All your laurels are gone. You have to prove yourself all over again."

While Tuiasosopo will travel 20 miles on the Harbor Freeway to USC, Ale must become acclimated to the Midwest.

"It's going to be hard for me because I'm going to be far away from my parents for the first time in my life," he said. "It's part of growing up. I have to experience a new environment and new things. I can't stay in L.A. all my life."

Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz said freshmen rarely have problems adapting to the Catholic school. Of 1,804 freshmen enrolled at Notre Dame two years ago, all but six returned for their sophomore year.

"We're the only football team in America to lose more football games than students," Holtz said. "The reason is in the dorms at Notre Dame. A larger percentage of homesickness is overcome because of the family atmosphere in the dorms.

"It ought to be a great experience for (Ale). Not only for him to be coming into a different environment, but also to be bringing a different environment with him. We expect him to bring that Samoan background."

Ale is the first Carson player to sign with Notre Dame, which makes Ale proud and uneasy at the same time.

"It's going to be hard socially," he said. "There are no Samoans out there, nobody I can talk with. But the people are nice. That's what I liked about it. I had people inviting me to dinner for home-cooked meals, and I'm not even at the school yet."

Ale will room with linebacker Michael Smalls of Eisenhower High in Rialto, the only other Notre Dame recruit in the Shrine game.

Tuiasosopo is one of six USC recruits in the Shrine game, which features 64 players selected from across the state. Fifty-seven have signed with major colleges.

Robert Richards of Thousand Oaks, co-coach of the South, said Ale and Tuiasosopo figure prominently in the defensive plans. Both will start, Ale at weakside outside linebacker and Tuiasosopo at right tackle, and they also might see action at tight end.

"I liken Arnold to Richard Dent of the Chicago Bears or Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants," Richards said. "He's a great athlete with great speed and quickness. He'll be a big factor in pass coverage and pass rush.

"Titus, emotionally, is going to be the leader of our defensive squad. I get the feeling that he has a love for football."

Ale and Tuiasosopo nearly became college teammates. Ale was leaning toward USC, but on the first day of the national signing period he committed to Notre Dame at the urging of his parents.

Needless to say, Tuiasosopo was disappointed.

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