This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

His name is James Aiono, and he stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 250 pounds, and he has the the speed and physique of a college football player. A player whose opponents tend to run in the opposite direction when he lines up on the Murray Spartans' defensive line.

Aiono wasn't always a giant. He can remember feeling a lot smaller.

He was smaller as a seventh-grader and he was playing pool in the garage of his home one day in West Valley City. He was waiting for his mom to get home with his brother. It took a while before she and his second-oldest brother started walking in from the car.

Without warning, men in police and SWAT uniforms appeared, and swarmed the home. They told everyone in sight - including Aiono, his mom and his aunt - to lay on the ground.

They were there to arrest his brother. And Aiono, already caught up in an emotional scene, remembers two words coming out from his brother's mouth:

"Sorry, mom."

Aiono made a promise that day. He would never have his mom feel the same pain and cry the same tears.

And he's kept that promise.

He is a model citizen at Murray, the star player on the Spartans football team. He leads the team in sacks, even though he's missed time this season after twisting his right ankle in a pickup basketball game in July, then hurting his other ankle in the third game this season. He committed to Utah before the start of his senior year, and will be the first in his family to attend college.

He's driven by a desire to please his mom.

"I was there and it was just sad to see her son taken to jail," Aiono recalled. "It hurts. It always hurt. When I see her cry, I can't help but cry, too. She's given everything she had."

Aliitasi, Aiono's mom, attends her son's games when her diabetes isn't too much to handle. She couldn't be more proud of Aiono, the youngest of her five children.

The son who was arrested that day is still in prison. Her oldest son was recently released.

Aiono could have been the third.

"When you have older brothers, you can't help but look up to them as role models, you know?" said Jared Tupai, Aiono's cousin and teammate. "He knew he didn't want to be like that."

Why's that?

"I'm a mama's boy," Aiono said.

And he knew even in the seventh grade that football might just be his ticket. His coach, Keeko Georgelas, knew that too when he first meet Aiono his freshman year. He's played varsity ever since.

"I think he's going to make it," Georgelas said. "I think it's exciting as a teacher and a coach to see someone have a chance to do something no one else in his family has done . . . It's neat to see kids succeed. That's our future."

WEDNESDAY

Region 1

Clearfield at Northridge, 7 p.m.

Davis at Fremont, 7 p.m.

Viewmont at Weber, 7 p.m.

Region 2

Alta at Jordan, 7 p.m.

Hillcrest at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.

Skyline at Brighton, 7 p.m.

Region 5

Roy at Box Elder, 7 p.m.

Sky View at Bountiful, 7 p.m.

Woods Cross at Bonneville, 7 p.m.

Region 6

East at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.

Granger at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Highland at Cyprus, 7 p.m.

Murray at West, 7 p.m.

Region 9

Canyon View at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.

Pine View at Dixie, 7 p.m.

Region 11

Bear River at Tooele, 7 p.m.

Grantsville at Ogden, 7 p.m.

Logan at Ben Lomond, 7 p.m.

Class 2-A North

Manti at Juab, 7 p.m.

North Summit at Grand, 7 p.m.

South Summit at ALA, 7 p.m.

Class 2-A South

North Sevier at Beaver, 7 p.m.

Richfield at South Sevier, 7 p.m.

San Juan at Millard, 7 p.m.

Class 1-A

Duchesne at Rich, 7 p.m.

Layton Christian at Milford, 7 p.m.

Enterprise at Parowan, 7 p.m.

Monticello at Altamont, 7 p.m.

Whitehorse at Kanab, 7 p.m.

Nonregion

American Fork at Bingham, 7 p.m.

Cedar City at Delta, 7 p.m.

Hurricane at Carbon, 7 p.m.

Juan Diego at Wasatch, 7 p.m.

Kearns at Lone Peak, 7 p.m.

Layton at Copper Hills, 7 p.m.

Lehi at Park City, 7 p.m.

Monument Valley at Red Mesa, 7 p.m.

Mountain View at Timpview, 7 p.m.

North Sanpete at Morgan, 7 p.m.

Pleasant Grove at Payson, 7 p.m.

Riverton at Provo, 7 p.m.

Timpanogos at Springville, 7 p.m.

Union at Emery, 7 p.m.

West Jordan at Judge Memorial, 4 p.m.

1. Bingham 8-0

Breakout night for Holt

2. Jordan 6-1

Taylor playing like MVP

3. Davis 7-0

Easily beat Vikings

4. Fremont 7-1

Struggled with Weber

5. Skyline 5-2

Let victory slip away

6. Alta 6-2

Allowed T-ville 26 yards

7. Pleasant Grove 6-2

Impressive comeback win

8. Lone Peak 7-1

Faded in fourth quarter

9. Northridge 5-2

Had a bye week

10. Viewmont 6-2

Has lost two straight

Class 4-A

1. Sky View 8-0

Handled Highland, Idaho

2. Highland 7-1

McNally ran wild

3. Timpview 6-1

Three straight shutouts

4. Box Elder 6-2

Dominated the Mustangs

5. Provo 6-2

Alder big in return

6. East 5-3

Ended Olympus jinx

7. Orem 5-3

Quietly climbing the ranks

8. Bountiful 4-4

Braves are heating up

9. Cottonwood 5-3

Couldn't slow the Rams

10. Mountain Crest 4-4

Lost two straight games

1. Park City 8-0

Held Trojans off for win

2. Logan 5-3

Won twice this week

3. Juan Diego 7-1

Had an easy night

4. Snow Canyon 6-1

Stunned by Hurricane

5. Delta 6-1

Squeaked by Wildcats

6. Judge Memorial 6-2

Rolled to easy win

7. Tooele 6-2

Shut down by Logan 'D'

8. Cedar City 6-1

Beat PV in shootout

9. Bear River 4-4

Two big tests looming

10. Wasatch 5-3

Earned tough win

1. Grand 7-1

Brown playing well

2. San Juan 7-1

Shut out fourth opponent

3. North Summit 7-1

Won for fallen teammate

4. Juab 6-2

Offense shut down by NS

1. Duchesne 8-0

Make it 188-0 in last four

2. Kanab 7-1

Scored 73 points

3. Rich 5-2

Improving each week

4. Enterprise 4-4

Bounced back from losses

Player to Watch: Liam McNally, Highland

In a game Highland needed to claim the Region 6 title, fullback Liam McNally delivered a clutch performance. He rushed for 247 yards and two TDs in the Rams' 47-12 win over Cottonwood.

73 Kanab kept its scorekeeper busy by racking up 73 points against Altamont. It was the highest point total scored by a team in Utah since Northridge scored 77 points in 2001.

20Park City running back Jared Tew picked up his state-high 20th rushing touchdown in the Miners' 18-15 win over Morgan.

North Summit

The Braves, while playing on the same day of the funeral for one of their teammates, picked up a key region win over Juab to stay in contention for the 2-A North title.

Payson

Payson started out the season as a feel-good story by winning its first three games. The Lions, however, have since lost four games in a row.

"I knew we were going for two, and I was all for it. That's our motto: Go big or go home.."

Jordan quarterback Sean Taylor, on his team's decision to go for the two-point conversion and the win in the Beetdiggers' 22-21 win over Skyline.

The names Sky View, Provo and Park City aren't usually found at the top of the high school football rankings or standings at this time of the year.

But for now, the three programs are thriving in ways that haven't been seen from them in many years.

The Bobcats are enjoying back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1986-87. The Bulldogs' history is slightly better, as they're in the second of back-to-back above .500 seasons for the first time since 1987-88.

The Miners, one of the biggest surprises of the season, continue to hold on to Class 3-A's top ranking. Park City is 8-0 for the first time since 1981.

The success of Sky View and Provo isn't too surprising. Both teams fared well in league play last year and each played host to a state tournament game. They also returned almost all of their key players.

Bobcats coach Craig

Anhder said there have been three key factors in the Bobcats turning their football program around.

"No. 1, I've got great assistant coaches and that makes a huge difference," Anhder said. "Two, I've also got some players who are committed to work hard and have a great attitude."

The final factor, Anhder said, in his team's success is the discipline of his players. The Bobcats are 8-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 4-A.

Provo had a breakthrough season last year and has built on the success. The Bulldogs are 6-2 and ranked No. 5 in Class 4-A. They still have an outside shot at sharing the Region 7 championship.

Short week

With the exception of Northridge, which was state's only team to have a bye in Week 8, teams have little time to prepare for their next contest.

Next week's games will be played on Wednesday because of UEA. Many teams are playing nonleague games that may feature a lot of playing time for junior varsity players. But there are also some exceptional region games on the slate.

The Region 1 championship will likely be decided when Davis travels to Fremont. Sandy rivals Jordan and Alta face off in a game that will help shape the Region 2 standings. In Region 6, the East-Cottonwood and Murray-West contests will feature teams jockeying for playoff position. The Bear River-Tooele and Grand-North Summit games became more important following Friday's results for the Buffaloes and Braves.

Power outage

A power outage in Roy forced the Roy and Bonneville football teams to make some adjustments on Friday. With 18 seconds remaining in the first half, a transformer exploded and it cut power in Roy. The teams relocated to Bonneville High to complete the Royals' 24-21 win.

Another Logan win

Logan learned during the week that its loss to Helix, Calif., has been changed to a win. Helix was forced to forfeit the game for playing two ineligible players. The decision improves the Grizzlies' record to 5-3.

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