Keller lineman regarded as state’s best

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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“Relentless power” is just one way to describe the best lineman in the state.

And Keller’s Maea Teuhema is returning to right tackle for just his junior year.

Teuhema, 6-4, 323 pounds, is down from last season’s 345, but is now quicker and more powerful after committing to head coach Carl Stralow’s off-season conditioning program.

Already tagged by some recruiting services as the state’s top prospect and in the top three across the country at his position, Teuhema has given a commitment, along with his older brother, senior Sione, to play at Texas.

The brothers had said they wished to play together and made their college decisions following last May’s spring game.

Now, with the pressure of college recruitment behind him, Maea – who also is known by the name Tristan – said he’s ready to do his job for the team.

That job at Keller has its own challenges, as the Indians are coming off a 3-7 season mark. Their 3-4 record in District 4-5A left the Indians just shy of a playoff spot in Stralow’s first season at the helm.

The younger Teuhema’s size and agility is coupled with what Stralow said is raw talent.

Defenders are often driven 10 yards downfield by Teuhema and then flattened as he finishes his assault on the opponents. Teuhema has made more pancakes than IHOP.

“I’ve been coached to finish every play to the echo of the whistle,” Teuhema said. “In middle school, I didn’t do that at all.”

With Keller’s plans to take advantage of Teuhema on the right side for the next two years, get the syrup ready.

“The coaches have said I’ll stay on the right side because we’re a running team,” Teuhema said.

Keller’s season-record holder for rushing, Dalton Mills, also returns, and the right tackle knows more damage can be done on opposing defenses this year.

“With Dalton and Brandon Poyser this year, I really want them to go far and help them have something to work for,” Teuhema said.

Teuhema isn’t worried about defenses loading up on his side of the ball to outnumber the Keller blocking schemes.

“I’ll play against whatever comes,” he said.

Stralow said he isn’t shy in taking advantage of running behind the big lineman, but acknowledges that when defenses stack to the right, he’ll occasionally run to the left.

With his size, technique and desire, Teuhema said his coaches have been working with him since his freshman year to be “meaner.”

As a younger player, Stralow recalls having to help the man-among-boys determine the fine line between being meaner and drawing unnecessary roughness penalties.

Hard-pressed to find major flaws in his game, Stralow joked that “big, young children take plays off” while Teuhema grinned sheepishly.

“Effort is free and you’re in charge of it,” Stralow said.

The tenacity of each Teuhema brother is never more evident than when the two line up across from each other in practice. Although Sione (6-3, 210) has moved from the defensive line to an outside linebacker position this season, the match-up is sometimes inevitable.

“When he gets lined up in front of me,” Maea said, “we go all out.”

Although the younger brother has the size, Maea said Sione has the better speed.

Stralow said Sione is primed to have a breakout year. “People are going to want to know more about him as the season goes on.”

Being able to work against his brother, Maea’s pass protection is just as solid as his run blocking.

“He backs up as well as he goes forward,” Stralow explained. “Plus, in pass protection, it’s a long way (to run) around him.”

Stralow is impressed by much more than Teuhema’s ability.

“He’s a great kid,” Stralow said. “He’s got rare talent, but even more encouraging is his work ethic. A lot of kids are blessed with talent but he works so hard regardless of his natural talent. His approach and work ethic is what separates him.”

Stralow realizes coaching players such as Teuhema are scarce gems in a coach’s professional career.

“He doesn’t get caught up in the attention,” Stralow said. “He has a great, dry sense of humor and both he and his brother are grounded. He’s a once in a lifetime talent.”

Teuhema is representative of the remainder of Indians’ roster, Stralow said.

“We may have more success than our talent,” Stralow said of his squad, which has come together in his second year. “How that all translates into wins and losses, we’ve got 10 games to find that out.”

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