Commentary

Alipate looking to open eyes at UA game

Updated: December 31, 2008, 10:31 AM ET
By Jon Mahoney | ESPNRISE.com

Moses Alipate has heard it all. Recently, a friend of his from outside the state busted him that Minnesota is famous for three things: snow, ice and hockey players.

[+] EnlargeMoses Alipate
Carlos GonzalezMoses Alipate excels both on the football field and on the basketball court.

Indeed, Alipate has seen plenty of snow living in the North Star State. Winter break hadn't begun for the Jefferson (Bloomington, Minn.) senior this year, and his area already had been hit by the fluffy stuff and people were sledding.

But as for Alipate joining the hordes of other high school kids lacing them up at rinks around the state, don't even think about it. Football is his love, and he's pretty darn good at it.

It's just that not too many people outside his state have heard of him.

Alipate plans on letting a national TV audience know all about his eye-opening physical gifts when he suits up for the second annual Under Armour All-America Game on Sunday in Orlando, Fla. (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Besides playing against elite talent from coast to coast, Alipate is looking forward to what he hopes will be a lot of sunshine.

"I'm so happy to get out of the snow," he says.

Rated the nation's No. 9 senior quarterback in the ESPNU 150, Alipate joins Washburn (Minneapolis, Minn.) and fellow Minnesota commit Ra'Shede Hageman as the only Minnesota athletes on Under Armour rosters littered with ultra-talented players from Florida, Texas and California.

Heck, just looking at the quarterback list can be intimidating. Among the signal-callers are the past two Gatorade National Football Player of the Year winners: Garrett Gilbert of Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) and Matt Barkley of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.).

But Alipate isn't fazed. In fact, he welcomes all the star power.

"Playing with the best just makes me want to compete even more," Alipate says. "I'm not really scared of competition."

In his three years as a starter at Jefferson, Alipate never backed down from any challenge even if he and his teammates often faced an uphill climb. Known more for its five-time state champion hockey program, the Jaguars have struggled recently on the gridiron, although the school did produce current Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.

"If you're a kid in the U.S. and you want to play hockey, this is the state you want to come to," says Alipate's father, Tuineau, who played in the NFL and CFL.

During Alipate's sophomore and junior seasons, the Jaguars went 2-16, including an 0-9 mark in 2006. All the losing only made Alipate strive even more to guide Jefferson to victory. Forget the individual accolades -- all Alipate wanted to do was make the playoffs.

Alipate and the Jaguars reached their goal this season by advancing to the Section 3 Class AAAAA playoffs, where Jefferson fell to Eagan 37-16 in the first round. Although it was a short stay in the postseason, it was nonetheless satisfying, as was the Jaguars going 4-5 to double their win total from the previous season.

Alipate finished the season having thrown for 1,101 yards and 11 touchdowns while having rushed for six scores. At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, his combination of size, toughness, leadership and a strong arm have led to comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger.

He also is plenty athletic. A standout basketball player for Jefferson, Alipate is leaving open the option to play both football and hoops at Minnesota.

But before he entertains any thoughts about what he plans on doing in college, Alipate is focused on showcasing his arsenal of skills at the Under Armour Game while throwing to some of the best receivers the high school football world has to offer.

"For him, it's going to be like Christmas, having some toys," his father says.

And a chance for Alipate to prove Minnesota has a lot more than snow, ice and hockey.

Jon Mahoney covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com.

Jon Mahoney is a football and baseball editor for ESPNHS. Email him at jon.mahoney@espn.com.