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Originally published Monday, August 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM

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Sacramento's Moala part of mighty defensive line

Viliami Moala made his national television debut early.

The Associated Press


Viliami Moala made his national television debut early.

The senior defensive tackle at Grant Union High School in Sacramento was featured already this season on an ESPN "Zero Week" broadcast. The Pacers, widely considered to be one of the nation's top teams, dispatched host and highly touted Folsom 49-14 at Prairie View Stadium.

Moala, who goes by Vei, is part of one of the strongest prep defensive lines in recent memory, along with fellow linemen Darryl Paulo and Faigame Lopa. Last season Grant Union's defense allowed only 68 points and shut out six teams. The Pacers set a state record with 77 sacks.

Moala, now a senior and 6-foot-2 and 330 pounds, was called a bulldozer by one observer. He had 105 tackles and 15 sacks last season, earning the Sacramento Bee newspaper's All-Metro team defensive MVP honors.

Nicknamed "Tiny," Moala can bench a staggering 495 pounds. His coach, Mike Alberghini, likens his hands to shovels.

Alberghini likes to tell the story about how he often spotted Moala watching from the stands during the 2006 season. Eventually he had to ask the 300-pound kid why he wasn't playing football: Moala replied he was only 13.

Going into his senior season Moala was entertaining at least 20 college offers. He is said to favor Cal, Washington and Alabama. However, he is from a close-knit Tongan family and may prefer to stay close to home.

Moala's cousin, Christian Tupou, also from Grant, is a defensive lineman at Southern California.

Because of his size, Moala is expected to be able to contribute right away at the college level. About the only knock on him is that he needs to watch his weight, because any more bulk could reduce his mobility.

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