Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Four Heritage High Football Standouts Sign College Letters

From left: Evan Rodriguez, Matthew Palmer and Limihai Hifo are joined by family members in signing football letters of intent. Not pictured: Sione Takitaki.
Four star players from Heritage High School's 2013 CIF championship football team signed national letters of intent today to continue their careers in college.

CIF Offensive Player of the Year Limihai Hifo signed a commitment to attend San Jose State, while the CIF Defensive Player of the Year, Sione Takitaki, signed to attend BYU. Defensive back Matthew Palmer and tight end Evan Rodriguez signed to attend Azusa Pacific University.

Before a gym full of boisterous students during the announcement assembly, athletic director David Drake spoke of the legacy these players are helping to build at Heritage.

"They have brought a glory to this school that is unheard of," Drake said. "They are leaving a legacy for those of you who are back next year ... they have set a precedent for all of you to live up to. Every athlete in this school from here on out will hear the stories of the 2013 football team."

Under the guidance of CIF Coach of the Year Kraig Broach, the Patriots compiled a 13-1 record last fall, beating Rancho Verde for the CIF title. Hifo rushed for 2,103 yards and 21 touchdowns in earning a scholarship to San Jose State, where he has been told he might start at running back right away.

"They had two running backs that got hurt last year and they played two slot receivers who had never played running back ever," Hifo said. "Hopefully this year, I'll get to take the spot.

"San Jose gave me the chance while I had a broken foot (last off-season). It's just another blessing. They've been doing really good. The program is on the way up and I'm glad to be a part of that."

Takitaki wasn't present for the assembly but showed up later to sign his letter of intent with BYU. He led the team with 81 total tackles from his linebacker position. Takitaki also played an important role on offense, carrying the ball for the Patriots.

Palmer ranked in the top five in the nation in interceptions on the way to All-CIF honors. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound defensive back picked off 10 passes -- most of those during the playoffs to help seal postseason victories. He will join Rodriguez at Azusa Pacific.

"It's been hectic and exciting at the same time," Palmer said. "I wouldn't be here without my teammates and my coaches."

Rodriguez, also an All-CIF honoree, made a strong impact at tight end after switching positions from quarterback a year ago.

"It's gonna be a cool experience, being in college together," Rodriguez said about joining Palmer at APU. "We'll always be CIF champs."

"It's quite a day," Broach said. "It makes me proud to think about where these guys came from and what they did."


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