SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Future Cal Poly football player Apefai Taifane from American Samoa has compiled quite a collection of honors following his sophomore season at West Hills College in Coalinga.
Taifane, who earned all-state honors and was named to the All-America Community College first team in December, was named winner of the California Community College Athletic Association's Male Scholar-Athlete Award on Monday.
The 6-3, 290-pound offensive lineman is the first football player to earn the statewide honor in 11 years. The Male and Female Scholar-Athlete Award is the highest student achievement honor awarded annually by the CCCAA. The winners, along with the rest of the annual honor roll for each sport, are selected by the CCCAA Awards Committee from nominations made by community colleges throughout California.
Taifane will be honored at the annual CCCAA Convention in Concord in March, along with 18 other student-athletes from conferences throughout the state who earned distinction on the Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll, and 18 programs that will receive Scholar Team Awards.
Taifane, who signed a National Letter of Intent during the Midyear Community College Transfer Period, was equally impressive off the football field as he was on it, particularly in the academic arena where he finished an amazing 54 units with a perfect 4.00 GPA over his first three semesters, and added 24 units during his final term.
He pursued an associate of arts degree in liberal arts, emphasizing in social and behavioral science at West Hills. A member of Phi Theta Kappa, he also served as a residential assistant and tutor.
After seeing limited action in 2016 as a freshman tight end, Taifane was converted by head coach Justin Berna to help an inexperienced offensive line last fall, starting every game and playing all five positions up front.
He helped the Falcons to an 8-3 record and the 2016 Golden Coast League Championship, then played a key role in them winning the subsequent Northern California Football Conference American Division title. As a sophomore, he led West Hills to a 6-3 record and was named All-Golden Coast, All-State Region II first team and first-team All-America.
Taifane was a team captain last fall and was honored with West Hills' Commitment to Excellence Award by his teammates.
From Amanave, American Samoa, Taifane is a graduate of Leone High School in Pago Pago, where he played football for the Lions. Also recruited by Sacramento State, UC Davis and Portland State, Taifane chose Cal Poly because "I feel like this is the right fit for me. The education is top notch and the coaching staff is supportive. Having family nearby is another huge factor that makes my decision 100 percent the best for me."