High School Sports

Lompoc’s Toa Taua is the best prep football player around. Don’t miss a chance to see him

Lompoc running back Toa Taua starts 2017 football season with a bang

Lompoc senior running back Toa Taua rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-7 win over Arroyo Grande on Friday night.
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Lompoc senior running back Toa Taua rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-7 win over Arroyo Grande on Friday night.

It’s hard to pry your eyes away from Toa Taua.

Whether it’s the way he uses his stiff arm like a battering ram, his passion for the game or the long, flowing hair that bounces off his shoulder pads as he flies down the sideline, everything he does screams “Look at me — you won’t want to miss what I do next.”

The Lompoc High School senior running back again was the center of attention Friday night in Arroyo Grande.

On the first drive of the game, Taua took a handoff, spun away from an Arroyo Grande defender in the backfield and sprinted to a 40-yard touchdown.

“It was a great feeling,” Taua said about the play after the game. “I tried to find a little hole here and there to make my way out.”

He finished the game with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and led Lompoc to a 44-7 win over Arroyo Grande to open the 2017 prep football season.

“When his mojo is going — it’s like look out,” Lompoc head coach Andrew Jones said. “It was going tonight.”

It’s a scene that many on the Central Coast have seen before.

“The Greatest 12 Year Old Football Player Toa Taua aka ‘Touchdown Toa’ ” is the title of a YouTube video from 2012 featuring highlights of Taua destroying players and scoring touchdowns during a youth football season in which he scored 49 touchdowns. The last Lompoc running back to garner this much attention was Central Coast legend Napoleon Kaufman.

Taua, who is of Samoan heritage, comes from a long line of football success. Toa’s oldest brother, Vai Taua, graduated from Cabrillo and went on to star at Nevada and play for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. Brother Ainuu Taua, also a Lompoc grad, is entering his junior season at UCLA.

The youngest Taua has also attracted his fair share of college interest as a 3- or 4-star recruit, depending on who you ask. He reportedly has standing scholarship offers from Cal, Arizona State, Iowa State, Washington State and interest from UCLA and USC. After playing as a linebacker for much of his high school career, Taua is taking on a new challenge by playing in the secondary this season as a cornerback and safety.

It’s a move that was made with the next level in mind. He will likely play safety or running back wherever he decides to go to college.

“I am going to wait,” Taua said about making a decision on where he will play next. “I am being patient right now.”

While football fans fix their eyes on Taua, he’s got one goal in mind after a heart-breaking loss in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 semifinals last season.

“I’d like to get a ring,” Taua said. “I’d like to get a ring for my pops and get a great season going for these younger guys and motivate them for next season.”

After a spectacular sophomore season, Arroyo Grande running back James Gilmet will carry the ball and the weight of expectations this season.

Next Game

Nipomo at Lompoc, 7 p.m., Sept. 1

Next SLO County Visit

Lompoc at Templeton, 7 p.m., Sept. 29

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