• All-stars relish chance to end careers with win

  • Mamu Tauiautusa had no idea that the Haka was going to become as much a part of the Missouri All-Stars' practice routine as studying coach Ryan Schartz playbook.

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  • Mamu Tauiautusa had no idea that the Haka was going to become as much a part of the Missouri All-Stars' practice routine as studying coach Ryan Schartz playbook.
    “It just happened,” said Tauiautusa, the Fort Osage graduate who was The Examiner's co-Defensive Player of the Year and the defensive standout in Missouri's 36-8 victory in Thursday night's Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game at Lee's Summit North High School.
    Tauiautusa had two sacks and blocked a field goal in the Missouri rout, but the one topic everyone was talking about after the game was his native Haka war dance.
    “It's a dance from the Pacific Islands that warriors did before going into battle,” explained Tauiautusa, who will take two years off from football to go on a mission trip to Samoa. “They did the dance to defend their families and to prepare themselves for battle.
    “At one of the first practices, some of the guys on the team asked if Samson (Sia), Joseph (Tuimaseve) and I were Samoan, and if we had some special dance we could teach the rest of the team. I was really surprised – so, we stayed after practice each day and they really got into it.”
    Before the start of the game, Tauiautusa led the Missouri team in the Haka, and it received a standing ovation from the Missouri fans. After the game, with the players surrounded by family members and friends, they once again did the Haka, with many younger brothers and sisters joining in.
    “That was pretty cool,” Fort Osage and Missouri head coach Ryan Schartz said. “You know, when I said I'd do this I thought to myself, 'That's two weeks I'm not going to see much of my kids and my family.'
    “But being around these kids made it all worthwhile. I've never been around a better bunch of kids than this group. There were no prima donnas and we only had three kids miss practice. I heard Coach (Mike) Spotts say this was the best group he'd worked with, and he's coached in three of these games.”
    Spotts, who has coached at Blue Springs, William Chrisman and now Truman, backed that statement.
    “This group was special, the best I've been associated with,” Spotts said. “You don't mind working this hard and being away from your family when you're coaching the type of kids we had on this team.”
    Blue Springs South offensive lineman Alex McClain can now boast he won the last football game he ever played.
    “This was my last game,” McClain said, “because I'm going to Missouri and I'm not playing ball. This was a great night, the type of night you dream about.”
    Page 2 of 2 - His South teammate, Kyle Burdick, agreed.
    “It's an amazing experience to play with the best players in the state,” Burdick said. “I was in on two of the touchdown drives, and it's special to walk off the field after you've played a role in a touchdown drive.
    “There's nothing better than an experience like this, and it all goes back playing with such great teammates and coaches.”
    Jason Young, who won his last game as he was a standout defensive lineman on the Class 6 Blue Springs High School state championship team, said this victory gave him the same feeling of satisfaction as that state victory.
    “I treated this like any other game,” Young said. “I worked hard. I came to practice early so I wouldn't miss anything and I wanted to win this game. When you give it all you've got and get rewarded with a win like this, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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