February 1, 2011
Grant's Puka Lopa to play on scholarship at Cal; joins teammate Vei Moala

By Joe Davidson

The union will indeed continue in Berkeley.

Puka Lopa announced today that he will sign a letter of intent Wednesday morning with Cal, scribbling his name at the same time his Grant High School teammate and pal Vei Moala does the same with the Bears of Berkeley.

Lopa, a ferocious rush end who may convert to linebacker, was also considering UCLA. The senior went to Cal on a recruiting trip over the weekend and decided late Tuesday that he would be a Bear, continuing a legacy of Pacers who have flourished as students and players at Cal.

Defensive cornerstones Syd Thompson and Worrell Williams were four-year starters for Cal. Thompson just finished his rookie season as a defensive back with the Denver Broncos and Williams played the last two seasons at linebacker in the UFL.

Lopa had 21 sacks and 128 tackles in a show of dominance this past season. He and Moala, a defensive tackle, were The Bee's co-Defensive Players of the Year. They had said it would be a dream to play college ball together.

Now they will, and not to far from home, either.

Lopa and Moala are very close with their families, and they wanted to attend a school known for his academics and football standing - and be close enough to home to throw in a load of laundry or engage in a family feast.

Lopa and Moala, as menacing in pads as they are jovial and polite otherwise, could emerge as a terrific tandem at Cal. Lopa, with his familiar shock of long hair jetting out of the back of his helmet, was "the best sideline-to-sideline pursuit guy I've ever seen," Folsom coach Kris Richardson said.

Lopa and Moala will be joined by three other teammates who will sign tomorrow morning at Grant, and possibly a third.

Darryl Paulo, Grant's leading tackler, will play linebacker or tight end at Washington State. Filipo Sau, a mammoth left tackle, will sign with Snow College in Utah, a two-year program that offers full room and board and is a launching pad to four-year programs. James Sample, a hard-hitting safety, will sign with Washington.

Ference Lange, a superb defensive back, special teams player and runner, could also sign, though that remains up in the air at this hour.

Devontae Butler, Grant's record-setting rusher from 2009, will sign a letter with Fresno State. He had planned to attend WSU but was not an academic qualifier. He is now.

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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