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Okalani Taufahema-Langi carries Alemany past Corona Centennial, 45-28

The running back scores three touchdowns and illustrates the important role he has played in helping the Warriors become one of the best teams in Southern California.

September 20, 2013|By Steve Galluzzo

Okalani Taufahema-Langi says his goal is to one day make enough money to buy his mother a house. 

He's still a few years away from entertaining that vision, but the Mission Hills Alemany junior earned a few hugs from her, his family, friends and teammates after rushing for three touchdowns Friday night in the Warriors' 45-28 victory over visiting Corona Centennial.

At 5 feet 8 and 195 pounds, Taufahema-Langi is the prototypical power back and one of the best Alemany Coach Dean Herrington has seen at the high school level. Langi attracted attention as a sophomore at Encino Crespi last fall and briefly transferred to Sierra Canyon in the summer before ultimately settling at Alemany, his mother's alma mater.   

"I couldn't be happier than I am here," said Taufahema-Langi, who has gotten letters from Arizona and Wisconsin. "Those short-yardage plays are my thing. There aren't too many power backs anymore, so I give it that old school feel." 

Taufahema-Langi displayed his short-yardage effectiveness twice in the first half, powering over the goal line from one yard away to put Alemany ahead, 21-14, midway through the second quarter and adding a three-yard scoring plunge in the final minute to give the Warriors (4-0) a two touchdown lead. 

"Okalani is small, but he's strong and low to the ground so it's hard to see him," said Alemany quarterback Alif Grayes, who is being recruited by USC, UCLA, Washington State and completed 10 of 16 passes for 245 yards and ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in 16 carries. "There was a little extra motivation since they beat us last year and the key was stopping their run because they're not as good at passing."

In addition to tipping several passes on defense, Taufahema-Langi applied the knockout blow on the first play of the fourth quarter, shaking off three tacklers for a 13-yard touchdown to stretch Alemany's lead to 24 points.   

"God gave me these horse thighs and I'm just trying to use them to my advantage," Taufahema-Langi said. "We're trying to win the day, not look ahead to the next week. We knew this was a good team, but we were ready."  

Barry Ware, who had been in Coach Matt Logan's doghouse after forgetting his jersey and having to wear a different number, turned a hitch pass into a 58-yard touchdown play with two seconds left in the half that brought the Huskies (2-2) to within 28-21.   

Tre Watson got back on track Friday, accounting for 150 yards, including scoring runs of 30 and 20 yards, in the first half alone. He finished with 167 yards, but the Huskies had three touchdowns called back on penalties as they suffered back-to-back losses in the same season for the first time since 2003. Centennial entered the game ranked No. 1 in the Inland Division and No. 7 in the Southland by The Times.

Perhaps no team in Southern California has a tougher schedule than Alemany, but the Warriors (4-0) are proving they can handle the pressure in big games. Alemany, rated fourth in the Pac-5 Division and No. 8 by The Times, hosts another Southern Section powerhouse next week in Ventura St. Bonaventure (ranked No. 15 by The Times).

Centennial quarterback Robert Webber hadn't thrown an interception all season, but the Warriors picked him off three times -- once each by Dominic Davis, Tyree Thompson and Alonso Reeves. Davis added 137 yards in 15 carries and Desean Holmes had three catches for 129 yards for the Warriors.

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