Texas Team Is Tops, Thanks to Pacific Isle

Tongans bring heft to championship high school squad
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2008 5:08 PM CDT
Euless Trinity's Vaimaali Sapoi, center, raises the team's trophy after they defeated San Antonio Judson to win the state Class 5A Division I championship football game in San Antonio, Dec. 22, 2007.    (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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(Newser) – "Freaks of nature," as one player put it, have helped propel a Texas football team to the nation's highest ranks. He was referring to the Trinity Trojans' high strain of Tonga blood. Three thousand of the Pacific Islanders reside in small-town Euless, and boost the high school team with their massive size—not to mention the tribal dance, or haka, that pumps them up before each kickoff.

Drawn by the low cost of living and plentiful airport jobs, Euless’s Tonga community gets along famously with native Texans thanks to the old-school values they share. The mix also breeds surprising diversity for a small town. And it shocks opponents on the Trojans' football field. "A couple of years ago, our entire offensive line outweighed the Washington Redskins' offensive line," the team's coach told NPR.