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Serra's Emerald Faletuipapai trying to lead Cavaliers to title

The 6-foot-7, 360-pound offensive tackle with a big appetite is a leader on an improving offensive line. Serra plays Oakdale in the Division II championship bowl game Saturday.

December 10, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

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.

Back in the Hunt

Standout offensive lineman Cameron Hunt of Corona Centennial was taken to a hospital to receive intravenous fluids after he cramped up during the second half of his team's 41-34 Open Division regional bowl victory over Harbor City Narbonne on Saturday.

Coach Matt Logan said Hunt would miss a couple days of practice this week but should be ready to play in Saturday's Open Division state championship game against Concord De La Salle.

Hunt, who has accepted a scholarship offer from California, has been the leader on what may be the best offensive line in the Southland this season.

Attendance figures

CIF and school officials said 3,889 tickets were sold for last Saturday's Open Division regional bowl game at Cerritos College, even though there appeared to be more than 6,000 in attendance.

The Pac-5 Division championship game between Long Beach Poly and Santa Ana Mater Dei two weeks ago at Angel Stadium drew 12,736. The City finals between Crenshaw and Narbonne and San Fernando and Canoga Park on the same night drew 4,678 at East Los Angeles College.

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