It was a special moment for me, but like I said, it’s all about Herriman football and doing it for my team. —Leki Fotu
SALT LAKE CITY — When the play-call came in, Herriman's Leki Fotu admittedly had to calm himself. The senior had seldom heard his number called in the offensive huddle, but heard it called on Friday, in the third quarter of the 5A state semifinals.
True to form, however, Fotu calmed himself and ran a perfect route to haul in a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hayden Reynolds to put the Mustangs up 16-7 over Sky View with 6:37 left in the third quarter.
“I was too pumped and needed to cool it down before I could do anything,” Fotu said of his touchdown reception. “It was a special moment for me, but like I said, it’s all about Herriman football and doing it for my team. It’s not about me at all.”
The Mustangs went on to win the game 23-7, punching their ticket to the 5A state championship game.
For Fotu, his touchdown reception was the first of his career, and as important as the touchdown was, it was far from Fotu's only contribution on the afternoon.
Fotu, who is committed to sign with Utah, spearheaded Herriman's defensive front to throw the Bobcats back for -22 yards rushing for the game. It was the lowest rushing amount yielded by any team in the state playoffs since Highland held Timpview to -36 yards rushing in 2000.
Herriman coach Dustin Pearce said, “99 is a beast, in case you haven’t noticed,” referring to Fotu when asked of Herriman's phenomenal rush defense. “He’s the best football player I’ve probably ever coached.”
Fotu finished the game with just three tackles, but also had two deflected passes and consistently crashed the point of attack, allowing his teammates to make myriad stops. Other defensive standouts for the Mustangs included defensive linemen Koa Salanoa and Braxton Pearce, along with linebacker Peniamina Mobley, who led his team with six tackles.
“I feel like we have the best defense in the state,” Fotu said. “It’s all about practice and dedication. And we stepped it up today.”
Fotu's performance came on the field where he'll be looking to do similar things in the not-to-distant future. Despite being excited for his opportunities at Utah, the senior's focus on Friday was entire on his team.
“Right now I’m playing for Herriman High School and that’s all my focus,” Fotu said. “Playing on this field for the Utes, it’s going to be a special thing, but right now it’s all about Herriman and taking it all the way.”
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