'They love the game': Blue Springs football's Dalesean Staley, Lamana Tapusoa relish bigger roles in 2021
Jagged, brilliant flashes of lightning filled the sky above Peve Stadium moments after coach David White and his Blue Springs High School football team had concluded a recent practice.
White surely hopes the brilliant light show is a harbinger to the fireworks his Wildcats will produce this season with standouts like wide receiver Dalesean Staley and running back Lamana Tapusoa leading the offensive charge.
"Those two guys can play," said White, who is heading into his second year at Blue Springs following a 5-6 2020 season that was tinged by COVID-19 protocols, fan restrictions and the shadow of replacing a coaching legend like Kelly Donohoe.
"We can't wait to see what they do this season. Dalesean is going to be one of the premier wide receivers in the state and we're going to use him more on defense, too.
"Lamana is a powerful running back, who is going to be an impact player on defense at linebacker. They love the game, they love this team and they are as excited as I am about the start of the season."
Staley is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior wide receiver who looks like a prototype for a prep standout. Tapusoa got his start playing rugby, and his 5-11, 205-pound frame is built for dishing out, or receiving the type of punishment that comes from playing the backfield or at a linebacking position.
"When you play at Blue Springs, you are expected to win every game, and we didn't get the job done last year, although I think we were a much better team at the end of the season than we were at the beginning,” said Staley, who has verbally committed to Northern Iowa.
"We had a new head coach, and a lot of new players, and it took us a while to all work together. But we ended the season strong (losing to Liberty 31-28 in overtime in a district semifinal playoff game that heavily favored the Blue Jays) and I think we can use that momentum at the start of this season.
"And it's so much easier going into a season where you know what the coach expects, he knows what to expect from us and we can start practice going hard and not having to learn all that new stuff."
Tapusoa is a junior who got the feel for varsity football as a sophomore last season. He will also start at linebacker this season, and White has confidence he will be a force on that side of the ball as well.
"Last year was a learning year for me, and many of the players on our team," said Tapusoa, who already has an offer from the University of Nevada. "We're a young team again this year, and we are going to have challenges, but I think we are going to surprise a lot of people.
"It's much easier to go into practice when you are familiar with your coach and he knows what to expect from his players – and that's the situation we are in this year with Coach White going into his second year here at Blue Springs.”
Despite a rare losing season, Tapusoa says the Wildcats still have a target on their backs and he wants to restore the program’s reputation as one of the best in the state and region.
"We're Blue Springs High School and we're going to get every opponent's best shot because everyone wants to beat us. That's what keeps us motivated,” Tapusoa said. “We have a great legacy at Blue Springs, a great football culture and we want to get back to that this season.
"We finished strong last year, and were a much better team at the end of the season than we were at the start. I'm just a junior, but for Dalesean and the rest of the seniors, this is it, and it's up to us to work hard and make this a season to remember. And I think we can do that."
One area that has attracted attention is the team's undersized offensive line.
"We are undersized, but we have the best coach in the world with Coach (Jed) Paulsen, whose blocking schemes are built for our team," Tapusoa said. "He's a great coach – all our coaches are great – and they're working hard for us, and we're going to work hard for them."