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When the Liberty High football team takes the field Thursday for the first day of official practices, coaches will surely challenge their players with a variety of grueling conditioning drills.
That is commonplace for several area programs during the first week of practice, with the training so unbearable for some they become ill or quit the team.
But no matter how demanding Liberty coach Rich Muraco’s workouts are, defensive end Kimo Seau will have the confidence that he has thrived in more physically straining conditions.
Nephew of former NFL great Junior Seau, the Liberty senior credits part of his success to training with Seau on the Southern California beaches. Junior Seau played into his late 30s, being selected 12 times to the Pro Bowl and becoming one of the game’s most feared defenders — a credit, partially, to the intensity of his training.
That is something Kimo Seau saw first-hand during the offseason before his junior year when he went through a variety of cardio drills on the beach.
“It was hard. It was tough,” Seau said. “He is a workout fiend. He worked out every part of my body out there.”
Seau took the same mentality into the offseason at Liberty, transforming his body in the weight room by adding 15 pounds of bulk. Now 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Seau will be a big clog on the Patriots defensive line that is replacing its best player from last year in Sam Tai (now at UCLA).
Seau, a three-year varsity starter, played part of last year with an injured shoulder, but refused to let that keep him from contributing. It is one of the reasons he has the respect of teammates and why they followed his lead in the offseason workout program.
“A lot of kids would have called it a season and gone under the knife, but we had a special season going and he wanted to be part of that,” Muraco said. “He showed courage to fight through it and had a great season.”
Liberty won the Sunrise Region championship last year before losing by one point in the state semifinals in the best season in the school’s nine-year existence. But without Tai, several believe making another deep playoff run will be easier said than done.
That has helped provide inspiration for Seau and others. Along with the likes of teammates P.J. Taeao and Jordan Kapeli at defensive tackle, linebacker Jared Tuilagi and safety Jeremy Lagasca, the Patriots don’t plan on a defensive drop-off.
And, after earning the reputation of being one of the area’s most physical teams last year, Seau promises they won’t back down from any opponent. Liberty opens the season Aug. 26 by hosting Arbor View in a battle of top five teams.
“We had a taste of it last year, and since then, all of us have been in the weight room trying to get stronger and faster,” Seau said. “We have the heart. This team runs on heart. Everyone loves being out here. We are going to hit you really hard, so blood will start coming out.”
Seau’s rise from being a key contributor last year to a team leader this fall didn’t happen overnight. It starts and finishes with his time spent training in the offseason.
After all, that is the Seau family way. It is something Kimo, who has minor interest from colleges but no major scholarship offers, hopes to continue at the next level.
“He just has that internal drive,” Muraco said. “A lot of that is burning because he feels he is being overlooked by some of the bigger schools.”