April 6, 2010

Vaitai brothers lead Haltom's offensive line

Time and time again, football coaches have referred to their teams' offensive lines as a "band of brothers."

It's overused. Some might call it trite, even.

But for Haltom City (Texas) Haltom head coach Scot Hafley, it's not only accurate, it's a literal depiction.

Three of his starting offensive linemen ... are brothers.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and twins Kevin Vaitai and Will Vaitai all started for the Haltom Buffaloes in 2009.

Halapoulivaati, the oldest brother by a little less than a year, was named sophomore of the year for the 2009 season in District 3-5A.

"We are really blessed to have three young men like the Vaitais," Hafley said. "Not only are they great football players, but they work extremely hard and they're great kids."

All three will be entering their junior seasons with the Buffaloes in 2010. Despite Halapoulivaati - or "Big V" as he's known - being older, the Vaitai family opted to have all three of the boys begin school at the same time.

The twins, Kevin (6-2, 250 lbs.) and Will (6-3, 285 lbs.), each play guard, while big brother is a 6-5, 255-pound tackle.

"It was great to play with my brothers because we are comfortable with each other," Halapoulivaati said. "It helped us transition to playing varsity football."

Halapoulivaati admitted that the brothers were - at first - pretty surprised last season that they all had been named to the varsity team as sophomores. But, he said, they had good role models to help them.

"We had a great senior class who took us under their wing and really showed us what it meant to be leaders," he said.

In fact, Halapoulivaati made such an impact that the team's starting quarterback Aaron Shockey gave him the nickname "Blindside."

While Halapoulivaati will be looked upon for leadership in 2010, the twins fully recognize that they play vital roles on a team that should be right in the mix come playoff time.

But making the playoffs won't be an easy task. In the recent University Interscholastic League (UIL) realignment, Haltom was moved to District 6-5A, which includes defending Class 5A Division I state champion Euless (Texas) Trinity.

"We've got to work hard in the off-season and stay humble," Will said. "I want to work on my speed so I can get to the linebackers and spring big runs."

Kevin, not surprisingly, echoed the same sentiments.

"I really want to work on getting quicker and stronger and bigger," he said. "I learned a lot of new things this year and I want to continue to build on that."

But the Vaitai brothers don't want their story to end in high school.

"We really want to play together," Halapoulivaati said while his brothers nodded in agreement. "We've been together all of our lives and we want to continue playing together at the next level."

For now, the recruiting buzz is relatively quiet.

Hafley, however, thinks that will change soon.

"They are still just sophomores so there's a ways to go," he said, "but I think once spring ball gets going it'll really heat up."

But for the next two seasons, the Vaitais are content making Friday night football at Haltom a literal family affair.

"Our family is so happy for us," Halapoulivaati said. "They keep us humble and motivate us to work hard."


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