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Mater Dei linebacker Jacobah Fuamatu is a major obstacle for opponents

Linebacker Jacobah Fuamatu of Santa Ana Mater Dei has a level of toughness that will fit in well with the Monarchs.
(Patrick T. Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

There’s a fearless quality to junior linebacker Jacobah Fuamatu of Santa Ana Mater Dei.

When he blitzes, with his eyes zeroed in on the quarterback, he’s playing the role of hunter, and like an animal going after his prey, he’s not going to let anybody or anything get in the way.

“He’s full speed from snap to finish,” his former coach at La Habra, Frank Mazzotta, said last spring.

Fuamatu prides himself on being disruptive. As a sophomore at La Habra, he was in on 99 tackles, including eight for losses. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound outside linebacker transferred to Mater Dei this summer.

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“I’m really aggressive out there,” he said. “I feel like I’m the best player on the field. That’s my mentality. Tight ends, I’ll throw them to the floor. I’ll bring them down. I’m there to show the offensive line and the quarterback I’m here to play.”

Fuamatu can thank his two older brothers for the way he plays football. One is 6-3, the other 6-5. They were older by eight and 11 years and the roughhousing challenged Fuamatu, whether it was making him wait to eat or being forced to do his brothers’ chores.

“They looked scary to me,” he said. “I was like the one being picked on, but they knew I was going to be something one day.”

There was crying, pleading and lots of running to escape. But in the end, big brothers did their job in preparing the youngest to go off on his own.

He finally got to start playing football in the eighth grade.

“My mom was always cautious about me getting hit,” he said.

When the family started seeing Fuamatu doing the hitting, that was forgotten.

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Now he’s on a path that he hopes will lead to continued improvement and progression up the ladder of football.

As effective as he was as a sophomore, there’s much to work on this season, especially the challenge of moving up to Division 1 and playing with a Mater Dei team that went 15-0 last season.

He relies on quickness to make big plays but he must be able to handle the linemen and running backs trying to run him over. He has been hitting the weights so he can battle with the big boys in the trenches and take on physical tight ends.

His arrival at Mater Dei couldn’t have come at a better time. The Monarchs lost standout linebacker Mase Funa to an offseason knee injury.

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“I want to play at the next level,” Fuamatu said. “I want to see how good I can be.”

He’s 16 and still growing.

“My doctor said I’m going to be 6-2, 6-3,” he said.

He’ll never be bigger than his lineman brothers, but he’s still faster and if there’s a race to the refrigerator in the Fuamatu house these days , don’t bet against the kid who knows how to identify his target and complete his assignment no matter the obstacles in his way.

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TOP LINEBACKERS TO WATCH THIS SEASON

Name; School; Ht.; Wt.: Yr.: Comment

Blake Antzoulatos; Chaminade; 6-1; 225; Sr.; Cal commit is a tackling machine

Jordan Banks; Narbonne; 6-3; 245; Jr.; A man among boys

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Josh Calvert; Oaks Christian; 6-3; 235; Sr.; Athletic, tough, relentless

De’Gabriel Floyd; Westlake; 6-2; 220; Sr.; Texas commit

Justin Flowe; Upland; 6-3; 225; Jr.; Rising to the top of any linebacker list

Jacobah Fuamatu; Mater Dei; 6-1; 215; Jr.; Loves to get dirty and make tackles

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Justin Houston; Gardena Serra; 6-4; 190; Jr.; Moves from sideline to sideline

Casey Kline; Brawley; 6-5; 210; Sr.; Boise State commit makes tackles

Jonathan Perkins; Cajon; 6-1; 205; Sr.; Oklahoma commit has lots of quickness

John Ward; Palmdale; 6-3; 235; Sr.; UCLA commit is two-way standout

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Others

Nicholas Delgadillo; Garfield; 5-10; 190; Sr.; Eastern League defensive MVP

Greg Doyle; Santa Margarita; 6-3; 220; Jr.; Ready for big season

Ralen Goforth; St. John Bosco; 6-2; 225; Sr.; Uses athleticism to make plays

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JD Hernandez; Sierra Canyon; 6-0; 235; Jr.; Running backs don’t get past him

Kendall Hill; Dorsey; 6-2; 235; Sr.; A physical tackler

Spencer Lytle; St. John Bosco; 6-3; 215; Sr.; Ready to make lots of tackles

Jake Medders; Arcadia; 6-3; 215; Sr.; Had 105 tackles

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Lei Mo’unga; Vista Murrieta; 6-0; 205; Sr.; Recorded 11 tackles for losses

Tuasivi Nomura; Corona Centennial; 6-2; 205; Sr.; Was in on 61 tackles

Kendall Ross; Fairfax; 6-0; 190; Sr.; Should be standout in Western League

Brady Sheehan; Redlands East Valley; 6-2; 205; Sr.; Has 4.6 40-yard speed

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Nehemiah Thompson; San Fernando; 6-0; 205; Sr.; Valley Mission League defensive MVP

Sam Whipple; El Toro; 6-2; 205; Sr.; Fills holes quickly

Jerome Wilson; Etiwanda; 6-2; 205; Sr.; Had eight tackles for losses

Cortez Wright; Culver City; 6-1; 210; Sr.; Had 159 tackles

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: @latsondheimer


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