Moimoi a two-way punisher

As a two-way star manning on both lines for Menlo-Atherton, Litani Moimoi has the capability of delivering crushing pancake blocks on offense or chasing down running backs on defense. But for the Bears’ senior captain, there is one moment on the football field that stands above all other plays.

“There’s no feeling in football quite like sacking the quarterback,” Moimoi said. “That’s when you really know all the hard work has paid off.”

Moimoi has felt that uniquely gratifying experience plenty this season — 11 times to be exact — to help lead his team to a 5-1 start, including a first-place mark (3-0) in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division standings. The Bears face league rival Burlingame tonight at 7 p.m.

At 6-foot-3, 278 pounds, Moimoi has the classic build of an interior lineman, but because of his exceptional speed on the perimeter, he lines up on most defensive snaps at the end position.

“My speed is my greatest strength,” said Moimoi, who also has 58 tackles this season. “I do use some power techniques from time to time, but I feel like I can get to the quarterback best by using my quickness.”

While he may be the focal point behind a defense, allowing just 14.3 points per game, Moimoi has proven to be equally as valuable on the offensive side for the Bears, who score nearly 29 points a contest.

“Running behind Litani is easy,” said Bears senior running back Will Latu, who has rushed for more than 600 yards this season. “The minute I get the ball, there’s a huge hole for me.”

And when he’s not creating real estate for his running backs, Moimoi is the ideal senior leader, his appreciative teammates say.

“He does whatever he needs to do to help us get ready on game day,” said senior running back Jamal Wilkins. “He leads with his actions, but he’ll also make some inspirational speeches if he has to. He’s both a vocal leader and a leader by how hard he works every day.”

Moimoi’s actions have not gone unnoticed among Division I football programs. According to Bears coach Bob Sykes, Moimoi is being actively recruited by all Pac-10 Conference schools as well as Fresno State and Florida State.

“He’s got unbelievable athleticism and tremendous character,” said Sykes, who’s in his second season with the Bears. “He’s a truly remarkable kid, and colleges recognize that.”

Moimoi lists his ideal college choice as Cal, but for the moment he’s focusing on his senior year and helping Menlo-Atherton capture the PAL-Bay title.

“We’re doing a great job of executing our plays, but we can’t let up now because we know what can happen,” said Moimoi, referring to the Bears’ 8-0 start last year that was sullied by three straight losses to end the season. “We know we can’t get overconfident or play down to the competition. We have to play each game with the same amount of intensity if we want to win league.”

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