Josh Falo was always the big one.
His mother, Elisapeta, jokes that her youngest child wasn’t just born, he was founded. He arrived 17 years ago at 10 pounds, 13 ounces and nearly 23 inches long.
Now a star football player at Inderkum High School, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Falo is still growing, a sight to behold when the senior charges onto the field before kickoff, his long “Polynesian pride” hair jutting out from his helmet. College football recruiting services deem him the top tight end prospect in the country.
Falo also is a defensive lineman, linebacker and punter, and in a pinch he has played quarterback for Inderkum, which will face Del Oro for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship Friday at Sacramento State.
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And no one has better arms than Falo. He’d win any muscle-shirt contest. His biceps are not to be sleeved. Even Mom said she might allow her baby boy to go to the prom and graduation without sleeves, then broke up laughing, adding, “OK, probably not.”
Our mom, she’s our everything. We love her and admire her.
Josh Falo, Inderkum football star, on his mother, Elisapeta
“Check out his guns!” Inderkum quarterback Trajon Cotton said, pointing to his buddy’s biceps after the Tigers beat Jesuit 52-35 in a rain-soaked semifinal Saturday. “Josh is a great teammate, a great friend, a great target with great hands. Love this guy.”
A lot of people love this guy.
Falo is the top football recruit in the region. Recruiters like his versatility, strength and speed (he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds). He is averaging 20.6 yards per reception and has caught 10 touchdown passes.
Falo has full scholarship offers from Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio State, UCLA, USC and scores of others. Recruiters will stop by the Falo house this week and the remainder of the recruiting season. they not only will have to charm the lanky lad. They’ll have to win over his mother, too.
“I’ve been through this before,” Elisapeta said with a laugh, recalling the recruiting process for her sons Nate and N.J. Nate played defensive tackle at San Jose State, and N.J. is a linebacker at Colorado..
As regal and formidable as the Falo siblings are – including sister Jamie, who is serving in the Army – all point to their mother as the family’s real strength.
“Our mom, she’s our everything,” Josh said. “We love her and admire her.”
20.6Josh Falo’s yardage per catch this season
These are happy times for the Falo family. But there will be some sadness Jan. 9, the 11th anniversary of the death of the family patriarch, Nu’umotu Falo. He died of lung cancer at age 49 and never got to see his sons play football.
“My husband, he’d be so proud,” Elisapeta said. “Losing their father wasn’t easy for my kids. Nate, the oldest, was 11 when he lost his father, and I told him that he’s the man of the house now. All of my kids have turned out so well. They’re so good to each other, to me. Their father was hard on them, very disciplined, and I was the soft-heart parent.”
The Falo family moved from Hawaii to Sacramento in 2002. By the time they were teenagers, each son found football and a father figure at Inderkum in coach Terry Stark, whom Elisapeta called “a great coach, a great man for my boys.”
Considering her sons’ future, mother Falo said, “Using my imagination, I think, ‘Wow! I’m raising someone’s son-in-law here.’ They’re going to make great husbands.”
Elisapeta will be torn Friday, when two of her sons play in championship games. N.J. and Colorado face Washington for the Pacific-12 Conference title at Levi’s Stadium. An hour after kickoff in Santa Clara, Josh and Inderkum meet Del Oro. What to do?
“I prayed so hard for my sons to reach the finals, and here they are,” Elisapeta said with a laugh. “Josh is the last Falo son. He screwed up my schedule!”