Inside the Port Hueneme (Calif.) Hueneme locker room, nestled above the left hand side are a collage of past Viking greats – ones named Ronney Jenkins (BYU), Josh Pinkard (USC) and Keary Colbert (USC), reminding the current Viking players that they made it far after wearing the HHS red and white.
That corner of the locker room is what motivates 2018 running back Alex Tili the moment he steps inside.
“Since a lot of people look at Hueneme as a down school, but seeing all those guys (up there), it motivates me to compete more. Because if they made it, I can too,” Tili tells Scout.
Tili, who will enter his third season on varsity this fall, has had some frequent college football visitors at the school located five minutes east of the Port Hueneme Naval Construction Battalion Center.
Tili, who has 2,532 all-purpose yards in his varsity career, tells Scout that his name is officially on the recruiting board of five different Mountain West Conference schools: Hawaii, Wyoming, San Diego State, Fresno State and Boise State.
“It’s a great opportunity and a blessing for them to come by and check me out,” Tili said.
Tili watched his 2017 teammate Maneko Aupiu go through the recruiting process. Aupiu was originally lined up to play for Ventura College but instead accepted a late scholarship offer to Indiana State.
In the last two seasons, Tili has relied on elusiveness and a cut-back ability while playing behind a relatively small Viking offensive line. But he still ran for 1,278 rushing yards last season, serving as the primary move-the-chains option for Hueneme. This year, Tili has put a big emphasis on adding muscle along with his teammates.
He’s developed a more chiseled frame in the process. Tili has gone from a thin 5-foot-11, 175-pound build during his sophomore season to a muscular 6-foot, 195-pound frame as he prepares to elevate the Vikings to their first winning season since 2009, when the Vikings went 8-4.
Since then, the program has fallen on hard times, winning just nine games between 2010 to 2015 before last season’s respectable 5-5 campaign – the best mark under current head coach Lui Toilolo.
Tili also had opportunities to go where the grass was greener in Ventura County, as more established programs like Oxnard (Calif.) Pacifica, Ventura and Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure all had opportunities to get Tili in their football uniform.
But Tili chose to stay on W. Bard Rd., with the attitude of wanting to become a cornerstone behind the Vikings’ renaissance. Tili cites another former Hueneme standout as his guiding force on and off the field: Alex Morfin, who was a two-star wide receiver prospect in the 2004 class and is now the Vikings’ offensive coordinator.
“Mr. Morfin has helped me the most. He tells me to keep going to class and make it on time, then get better and try,” Tili said.
Tili has a future summer trip to UCLA lined up with his team for its 7v7 tournament He also got a chance to show his skill set in front of coaches from Cal Poly, the University of San Diego and Cal Lutheran on May 13. Along with helping resurrect Hueneme football and be the next Viking to get emblazoned on the left hand corner of the locker room, Tili has the bar set high for his final prep season.
“My goals are to win the PVL (Pacific View League) title, make it to the playoffs, win CIF and end the year off strong,” Tili said.