Southeast Polk Football

So, yes Sama in particular played some of the best football of his high school career. He finished with 372 yards on 24 carries and scored six touchdowns. Oh, and according to Niyonkuru, Sama “said he wanted five but he got six.”

The Rams racked up 378 total yards through the first two quarters, and almost all of those came from Abu Sama and Connor Moberly. Sama picked up 166 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, and his two scores came off 65- and 73-yard runs.While there were players who separated themselves from the pack with truly title-winning performances, it was an all-around team effort from the reigning champions. Let’s break down how it happened.

CEDAR FALLS — For those who thought the Iowa high school football Class 5A state championship game between Southeast Polk and West Des Moines Valley would be close, the Rams proved them wrong.
Southeast Polk jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half, forced a continuous clock in the third quarter and beat Valley, 49-14, to win back-to-back state titles and bring home the second championship in program history.

Carson Robbins led the receiving core with 166 yards and one touchdown. Joe Zelenovich, Sam Goode, Thaden Abbas, Owen Wignall and Sama brought SEP’s receiving yards total to 258.
There’s the offensive line that gave Sama time and space to make those big runs and kept Valley’s defense from getting to Moberly. Southeast Polk’s line has only allowed five sacks — one by Valley and two by Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the regular season and two by Johnston in the semifinal.

The Rams, though, were a different beast for a Valley team that snuck into the playoffs with a 5-4 regular season record. The Tiger’s first half drives went like this: punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt, and another turnover on downs.
Valley defeated then-undefeated No. 1 Pleasant Valley in the first round and knocked off Cedar Falls in the quarterfinals. The Rams upset Dowling Catholic, 22-21, in the final minute of the semifinals to make it to the title game.Moberly was equally as impressive. He threw for 194 yards and one touchdown on nine completions. The opening touchdown came from Moberly’s arm – an 89-yard pass play to Carson Robbins to set the tone early. The Rams are the only team in 5A with two running backs – Sama and Harrison Gibson – who have rushed for over 1,000 yards. Gibson didn’t play as big a role in the championship as he has in other games, but he was more than capable of stepping in. Valley’s second half didn’t go so well either, with the first drive ending with an interception. The Tigers had some players who tried to put plays together – Ayden Price and Zay Robinson with decent receiving yardage, and Damon Head with some movement on the ground.

Price did prevent a shutout, scoring Valley’s first touchdown early in the fourth quarter and stopping the running clock. SEP picked up another touchdown, but Robinson returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards to stop the clock again.

“It feels amazing,” Obald Niyonkuru, a senior defensive lineman for Southeast Polk, said after the victory. “We have so much love for each other and we worked so hard together, and I really knew that we were gonna do this.”
There are many reasons why Southeast Polk was able to compete for its second-straight state title on Friday. The Rams ability to put all of those moving parts together is why Southeast Polk won.Southeast Polk Activities are a source of community pride. SEP athletics, dance, drama, instrumental music, and vocal music all boast a highly decorated history of earning state championships and national recognition, achieving both team and individual accomplishments, and developing lifelong friendships and mentorships. We compete in the CIML (Central Iowa Metro League), and invite all students in grades 7-12 to get involved in our various activities. We’re committed to…The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Sama as Iowa’s best high school football player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award to be announced in January, Sama joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Trevor Lawrence (2018-19 & 2016-17, Cartersville High School, Ga.), Matthew Stafford (2005-06, Highland Park High School, Texas) and Emmitt Smith (1986-87, Escambia High School, Fla.).Being a Gatorade Player of the Year means paying it forward for the next generation. Through Gatorade’s Play it Forward initiative, every Player of the Year receives a grant to give to one of Gatorade’s social impact partners, supporting Gatorade’s ambition to fuel the future of sport. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student- athletes, visit or follow us on social media on Facebook at, Instagram at and Twitter at has maintained a B average in the classroom. At the time of his selection, he’d made a verbal commitment to play football on scholarship at Iowa State University this fall.

Sama joins recent Gatorade Iowa Football Players of the Year Aaron Graves (2021-22, Southeast Valley High School), Cooper DeJean (2020-21, OABCIG High School), Hunter Dekkers (2019-20, West Sioux High School), and Max Duggan (2018-19, Lewis Central High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.Sama has volunteered locally with the Genesis Youth Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps immigrant families in the Des Moines area. He also has donated his time organizing weekly workouts for at-risk Des Moines youth who express an interest in sports. “Abu Sama can dominate a game like no other player in the state,” Valley High School head coach Gary Swenson said of Sama. “I have always contended one player can’t beat you in a football game, but he can get as close as any individual I’ve seen for a while.”