With Big Moments In Historic Wins And School-Record Performances In Title-Clinching Victories, St. Francis’ Viliami Teu Takes NorCal’s Top Offensive Honors •
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Sometimes determining Offensive Player Of The Year honors can boil down to a series of big moments, in big games. Viliami Teu began his case in a historic win over De La Salle High on Sept. 10.
The St. Francis-Mountain View senior running back more affectionally known as “Juju” made his final argument two months later. This will sound like hyperbole. But it’s true.
The stage was Serra High School in San Mateo and a regular season finale between two of NorCal’s top three teams. Both unbeaten, the two teams arrived on Saturday afternoon to battle for the West Coast Athletic League title.
Teu’s performance in this game was so good, that eventually Lancers coach Greg Calcagno’s game script simply became “Give it to Juju.” Teu carried the ball 45 times for 344 yards — both school records. St. Francis won 44-21.
With the ease of calling the play for No. 4 — and watching it work repeatedly — Calcagno admittedly lost track.
“I had no idea (he had that many carries),” Calcagno said. “We were just trying to win the game. We didn’t want to give Serra the ball back. We just wanted to eat clock, and he represented the best way to do that because he just kept getting first downs. We weren’t trying to set any records.
“He was simply best way to get out of there and get away with a win. So that’s what we took.”
It was no anomaly, either. Teu and the Lancers’ big and punishing offensive line represented the path to most of St. Francis’ 11 victories this past fall. He rushed for 2,211 yards on the season, averaging more than eight per carry. He topped 200 yards in nearly half of the Lancers games and ran for at least one TD in all 12 contests, finishing with 27.
These efforts, and his ability to raise his game against the Lancers’ toughest opponents, led to SportStars naming him NorCal Offensive Player Of The Year. He earned the honors amidst a crowded field of NorCal players with massive offensive seasons. Kimball-Tracy quarterback Nicholas Coronado, Manteca running back Blake Nichelson and California-San Ramon receiver Jake Calcagno were all discussed.
He’s the first running back to win the award since 2016 when Ronnie Rivers (Freedom-Oakley) and Najee Harris (Antioch) shared the honor.
Greg Calcagno and the St. Francis coaching staff recognized Teu’s running skills as early as his freshman year, but this was the season it all came together for the 5-foot-11, 195-pound back.
“From that first carry against De La Salle, we were like ‘Hey, that’s our guy we knew had the potential to be there,’” Calcagno said. “And he just played to that potential the entire season.”
Teu rushed for 185 yards and a touchdown in the 31-28 win over De La Salle on Sept. 10. The victory will go down in NorCal football legend as the one that brought an end to the Spartans’ 318-game unbeaten streak against NorCal opponents.
“He’s really good,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said recently. “He runs hard. That’s something we always stress to our own backs, and I’m not sure we like seeing it so much from opposing ones. But you have to respect a kid who runs as hard as he does. He broke a lot of tackles and had great vision. Great all-around back.”
As for the coach who saw him every day, Calcagno couldn’t praise Teu enough.
“He’s got a lot of natural ability, and a lot of intangibles,” the Lancers coach said. “He’s just a great young man. Very humble. His lineman love to block for him. He’s what you want your son or daughter to be. He smiles a ton. He’s not about himself at all. With him, it’s all about the team.”
Teu went most of the season without a Division I scholarship offer, but eventually earned and accepted one from San Jose State. He follows the footsteps of his older brother Romero who was also a running back for the Spartans. And wisely, he’ll be going along with a few of his favorite blockers. Lancer seniors Daneris Derosa and Uluakinofo Taliauli will both join SJSU as well.
“It’s going to be fun to watch him grow,” Calcagno said.