West High’s Best of The Best

Benaya Zamir

Adding themselves to a long list of successful West High athletes, five up-and-coming varsity football players were recently recruited to play football at the college level. These five boys are some of the most impactful players to ever have touched West High turf, leading a football team that has hosted and won two home playoff games in the past two years.

During the 2021-2022 season, West High Football put up one of the best statistical and performance based seasons in their history as a team. Led by Navy commit Karson Lopati, West toppled the national average for all purpose yards, completion yards, passing yards per game, and many, many more stats. Not only was Lopati’s season one to remember statistically, it was doubly remarkable because his success followed a severe knee injury. Lopati was a successful player in the air and on the ground, proving to be a dangerous two-way threat for opposing teams. But, Lopati was not the only player to prove dangerous in West’s run attack. Running Back Bronsyn Saena was a powerful ground player. He averaged over 5 yards a carry, not to mention his domination in the red zone with 11 touchdowns. Saena received many offers from multiple prestigious colleges but decided to take his talents to Mount Marty University in South Dakota.

On the other side of the ball, West was just as dominant. West’s defense relied heavily on its pressure from the defensive line and aggressive defensive backs, which led them to 21 turnovers, just off interceptions, and fumble recoveries during the season. A great force on the defensive line was star defensive tackle Dallas Vakalahi. Vakalahi had a whopping 6 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in only 8 games played. Vakahahi received attention from multiple division 1 schools but ultimately decided to stay in Salt Lake City and play for the University of Utah, one of the best teams in the nation—the reigning Pac-12 champions.

Not only does West have star position players all over the field, they also have a star studded athlete who can play anywhere on the field—Liutai Kinikini. Kinikini’s ability to get sacks and make a play all over on defense earned him a spot at Brigham Young University, adding him to the list of successful West High athletes.

The last player of the batch is Ryker Lotulelei. Lotulelei is another threat on the defensive line and in coverage. He has been playing on the West varsity team for three years now and finished better than ever, starting every game for the West defense and getting to the quarterback at a career high rate. All these players will be remembered at West for decades in our memory, on the record books, and at their next prestigious football schools. Football is one of the hardest sports to continue playing at the college level, and these 5 players from our very own West High will be representing themselves and the successful Panther team for years to come.