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Waldorf Football Player Looks to Make His Own Name

Sam lines up as a teammate goes in motion behind him on Oct. 5 in Forest City, IA. (Picture from Kristine Kingland)

By: Zach Throne

Waldorf football’s starting tight end comes from a background filled with athleticism–especially in football.

Samuel Epenesa, or Sam as all of is teammates and friends call him, has two siblings. Tina, 24, and Jordan, 29, grew up with Sam on the west coast in Oceanside, CA.

His father came directly from the American Somoan island about 35 years ago, along with his brother, Eppy.

Sam┬ástarted playing football in the sixth grade where he played the offensive and defensive lines. As he grew (age and height-wise), his coaches gradually worked his way into the more “big-skill” positions. He wanted to have the ball in his hands, so he made the move to tight end in high school.

One of his high school teammates happened to be Chris Olave, sophomore starting wide receiver for Ohio State University. Sam and Olave developed a friendship during their time at Mission Hills High School.

“We hung out once this summer, but we are both doing our thing with football so there is not much time to hang out as we would like to,” said Sam, “It has been hard to talk to him over the past year and a half, but we know we are there for each other.”

The connections to high-level Division-I football do not stop there, though.

Sam’s uncle, Eppy, played football at the University of Iowa in the mid-1980s. His son and Sam’s cousin, AJ, was a five-star defensive end a few years back. AJ followed Eppy’s path by committing to the Hawkeyes.

Sam and AJ started in two totally different places, California and Illinois respectively, but they have wound up in the same state to play college football: Iowa.

AJ is a projected first-round pick with a chance to be drafted in the top ten, so Sam gets questions all the time about his first cousin. Sometimes he gets annoyed by the constant admiration for his cousin, but he realizes that he is in a neat position to watch a family member rise to fame.

“Me and AJ are close, but we only talk a couple times a week,” said Sam, “It is one of those relationships where we may not see each other or talk much, but we are close and act like brothers when we do get to see each other.”

Sam may be only a sophomore, but he is looking to make big plays for the Warriors the rest of this season at the tight end position. He currently sits at two catches for 28 yards this year, but he is ready for whenever the ball gets thrown his way.

“Sam is always working his butt off in practice,” said teammate Carlos Barrera, “whether it is blocking or catching passes, he is always doing his thing.”

Sam and the Warriors take on Mayville State on Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. in Mayville, ND.