Braves RB Faamausili finds a new home in Kamiakin backfield

Tri-City HeraldOctober 16, 2014

Nobody was sure what to expect from Tomui Faamausili when he first began working with the Kamiakin High School football team over the summer.

The senior transfer known to his teammates as “T.J.” had played three full seasons with Pasco, which won just one varsity game during that stretch.

Braves coach Scott Biglin saw that he was fast and durable, and he had shown plenty of promise on Mid-Columbia Conference game films. Still, something was missing.

“He was running a little timid,” Biglin said. “We already had two good running backs. We didn’t know where he would fit in.”

Plus, learning a new system and being surrounded by brand new teammates — and leaving his old ones behind — had cut into Faamausili’s confidence.

“It took a little while getting used to plays. Pasco ran the same type of run plays — zone, counter and trap — but there were little quirks,” the 5-foot-9, 185 pound Samoan said. “I’ve always tried to work hard, and what happens happens.”

What finally set him apart was his ability to push through and persevere, something he credited Pasco head coach Dustin Lamb and running backs coaches Keithon Flemming and Leon Jackson with helping him develop since his freshman year.

“He wasn’t as noticeable at first. You never thought he’d become a breakout star,” said Kamiakin senior offensive lineman Christian Carman, who also noted Faamausili’s example in the weight room. “He’s got a work ethic like no other.”

Faamausili shared touches with fellow Braves running backs Mikey Jones and Justin Larsen in the first two games, totaling just under 100 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns. It wasn’t until Week 3 that Faamausili finally exploded with 139 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-3 win over Southridge. In Week 4, he added 178 yards and three more touchdowns in a 29-8 win over Kennewick.

Through six weeks, he is second in the MCC in rushing with 607 yards on 78 carries — a 7.8 yard average — and is second in scoring with 12 touchdowns.

Biglin, who entered the season with a running-back-by-committee approach, has found his No. 1 running back.

“The more and more he got relaxed in the system, the more he started to flourish,” Biglin said. “He’s faster than I thought, and I like how patient he is.”

Jones and Larsen still get touches, averaging over 6 yards a carry between them with five touchdowns combined, and they have come to appreciate the example Faamausili has set.

“He’s made everybody in the running back corps better,” Jones said. “Coming in, he was kind of shy, but he’s shown leadership since them. And he’s still showing it.”

His offensive linemen like the way he runs, too.

“He hides our mistakes,” Carman said. “If we’re not doing something, he’ll make a play out of nothing.”

But Faamausili is quick to credit his teammates for supporting him, which has made for a smooth transition on the field.

“My teammates are my brothers. I know they have my back,” Faamausili said. “Jace (Navejas, a senior wide receiver) made a downfield block against Kennewick (to spring me) for a long touchdown run.”

Last Thursday, Faamausili ran wild on his former teammates, rushing for 161 yards and four touchdowns in the Braves’ 56-21 home win over Pasco, though he took no pleasure in his personal success.

“I wasn’t doing a lot of celebrating. I tried to be as respectful as I could. I have a lot of respect for them,” Faamausili said.

It’s clear Lamb has a healthy respect for his former starting running back. Perhaps that’s what made it difficult when he left the program.

“Any time you lose a good player it’s definitely tough. We were three years into him,” Lamb said. “He’s a real nice kid, and I always hope for kids to do well.

“We’ve just lost so many.”

Faamausili, who admits an affinity for playing the ukelele, does plan on playing football in college but hasn’t settled on one yet. But his first priority is serving a mission for the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints.

“If you put God first, He’ll figure out the rest,” he said.

Jack Millikin: 509-582-1406; ; Twitter: @jackbull61

Kamiakin's White leads All-Area football team

By Jack Millikin, Herald staff writer

KENNEWICK -- It shouldn't be long before Tim White begins establishing himself at the next level.

In fact, Kamiakin's electrifying receiver/return man/cornerback is about to make his first official recruiting visits to Washington State and Central Washington University, his top two choices so far.

But even after he embarks on his next big step, the 6-foot senior won't ever forget the year he had during the Braves' dramatic run to the 3A state title game. Neither will the Tri-Cities community.

Even though there's still a tinge of regret after a 38-0 loss to Bellevue in the championship, White -- the Tri-City Herald's All-Area Most Valuable Player -- remembered that in the end it's not always about winning.

"Looking back, I wish we could have made things happen a little differently. ... I've thought about it every day since it happened," White said. "But I'm still proud of the guys I played with. I wouldn't want to be on any other team than this one.

"I want to thank all the players for letting me have the best four years of my life."

And what an amazing four years they were. White's numbers exploded under coach Scott Biglin, and he developed into one of the most dangerous playmakers on the field. In three varsity seasons, White caught 131 passes for 2,070 yards and 23 touchdowns.

And sadly for his opponents, he rarely left the field, playing offense, defense and special teams.

"It was exhausting. Sometimes, I would get a break as a receiver, but it didn't happen very often," White said.

This season he caught 34 passes for 658 yards and 10 touchdowns, but a lot of his value was taking pressure away from his teammates, who hauled in 26 more passes for scores from quarterback Joey Jansen.

White also added a pair of defensive touchdowns on interception returns, but perhaps his most significant contribution this season was on special teams, where he returned 25 punts for just under 700 yards -- nearly 28 yards a return -- and five touchdowns.

In fact, teams would kick the ball away from White on special teams, choosing instead to face Kamiakin's offense, which ranked No. 1 in the CBBN at 7.7 yards a play.

He even threw for two touchdowns this year.

"He kind of made us go. He was a special kid," Biglin said. "You've got to have those guys to take you over the top. A lot of people said he had a down year, but to me it was phenomenal that he made the catches he did."

Biglin had a phenomenal season himself, earning coach of the year honors in his second season with the Braves. The Pasco graduate and former Whitworth quarterback stepped in and earned the trust of his players and coaches, getting them to buy into his spread offense.

After that it was just a matter of how far the team would go.

"Any time you get awards like coach of the year, it has a lot to do with the people around you," Biglin said. "I feel like we're the hardest working staff in the business. There were 12 coaches out there pulling their weight, and I'm just one of 12."

White was one of six repeat first-team selections, getting the nod as a receiver, defensive back and kick returner for the second consecutive year. Joining him for the second consecutive season were Connell running back Matt Hadley, Chiawana linebacker Nick Vincent, Walla Walla punter Matt Watson, Kennewick quarterback Drew Loftus (as the all-purpose player) plus Braves teammate and defensive end Jon Allen.

Kamiakin locked up 10 spots on the first team to lead area squads. Other Braves picks were quarterback Joey Jansen, offensive lineman Tanner Meier, kicker Garrett Bowe, defensive back Shad Fletcher and linebackers Drew Oord and Zach Umemoto.

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Kamiakin uses 4 running backs to beat Pasco

Tri-City HeraldOctober 9, 2014

Kamiakin showcased a balanced rushing attack Thursday night at Lampson Stadium as it rushed for seven touchdowns in a rout of its Mid-Columbia Conference rival Pasco Bulldogs.

Four different running backs found the end zone for the Braves in front of the home crowd as they pulled away in the second half to win 56-21.

Three of the touchdowns were run in by senior TJ Faamausili in the first half.

The former Bulldog set the tone with an 80-yard scamper in the first quarter that put his team up 14-0.

Pasco answered the bell after going down early behind the arm quarterback Kolby Killoy.

The junior hit Cole Kelley on a screen pass at the end of the first quarter and later connected with receiver Eric Orange on a 29-yard pass to bring his team within seven points.

However, the Braves marched down the field at the end of the first half and Faamausili capped off a 5-play, 54-yard drive with a 22-yard run on a pitch to put the his team up 28-14 at the half.

The Braves really never looked back.

With Faamausili sidelined for most the of the second half, Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin turned to a stable of backs to continue to run wild on the Bulldogs.

Juniors Mike Jones and Justin Larsen stepped in and helped lead the Braveson to three straight unanswered scoring drives.

Larsen started it off with a 2-yard run and Jones followed up with a 26-yard run that put the Braves up 42-21.

Jones then had a 39-yard touchdown run that put the game completely out of reach.

Pasco struggled to move the ball offensively in the second half and managed its only touchdown off a fumble the Bulldogs recovered at the Kamiakin 28-yard line.

The second-ranked offense in the MCC coming into Thursday night’s game was slowed down by a stout Kamiakin defense that was able to get pressure on Killoy and disrupt Orange in the second half.

Biglin had his backup quarterback take a knee as his team threatened to score again to close the game.

The Braves bounced back after a tough loss last week to defending state champion Chiawana.

The win moved the team to 4-2 on the year overall and 3-1 in the MCC.

The Bulldogs have now dropped three in a row after starting out the year 2-1.

Kamiakin hosts Hanford next week and Pasco is scheduled to take on Richland.

w Tyler Richardson: 509-582-1556; ; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

Kamiakin players salute Wolverines

TACOMA -- The Kamiakin Braves defense didn't underestimate Bellevue coming into the Class 3A state championship game Friday, but they sure weren't expecting what hit them.

The Wolverines used a punishing ground game to chew up the clock, yards and the scoreboard in a 38-0 victory for their eighth state title in the last 10 seasons at the Tacoma Dome.

"We've never seen this kind of offense," junior Drew Oord said. "With their size and athleticism, it was tough for us."

Running a wing-T, the Wolverines used misdirection plays to give Kamiakin fits all night.

Right from the get go, Bellevue took the ball 80 yards on 10 plays to open the scoring less than five minutes into the game.

"That first series, I think we were too amped up," junior Joe Hunt said. "We weren't playing assignment football, but we settled down. We know we can play with them, it just wasn't our night."

The Braves defense did stiffen, holding Bellevue to a field goal on its second possession and had the Wolverines in a fourth-and-short trailing 10-0 on Bellevue's third series, but Latrelle Dukes went untouched up the middle and scored from 56 yards out.

"We matched them in the third and fourth series," Kamiakin defensive coordinator Tim Maher said, "but we blew an audible and they executed.

"They were good. They were all and more than they were billed to be. It was pretty much the offense we expected it to be, but I'm not sure we expected it to be so physical."

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