By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Makoa Chapa led a young Konawaena defense with a bull’s-eye on the back of his football jersey, and still produced a stellar junior season.
The defensive lineman compiled 57.5 tackles and 6.5 sacks, and sparked the Wildcats to their third straight Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II championship.
He was also outstanding as an offensive lineman, too. That was confirmed when the 5-foot-10, 225-pound Wildcat received postseason honors for both positions.
Chapa was voted the BIIF Division II Defensive Player of the Year, by the league’s coaches, landing on the first team for the second time at defensive line.
“It’s really a blessing to get defensive player of the year,” he said. “Every single game I tried to do as much as I could, whether it was disrupting a play, holding the line to get linebackers in there for them to shine.
“It’s a really good feeling, working hard to get it. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. We all helped each other. It’s a really good thing. Not only that I got it, but I’m able to share it with others.”
Hawaii Prep senior running back Bobby Lum was voted the BIIF Division II Offensive Player of the Year. He rushed for 1,239 yards, but in two games the Wildcats held him to under 100 yards.
Chapa was named to the first team at offensive line for the first time. It was the same deal with Kamehameha senior Paka Davis, who was also on the first team for both sides of the ball.
Besides Chapa, Kamehameha senior cornerback Kaua Aganus was another first-team repeat selection, along with Hawaii Prep senior O-lineman Keenan Greenbaum.
Kamehameha senior Timmy Burke is a three-time first-team pick, at linebacker as a sophomore and junior and on the defensive line this season.
Last season, Chapa was an All-BIIF first-team pick at D-line and he noticed that his older teammates drew double teams, freeing him up to make plays against single coverage.
As the only returning first-team Wildcat, the spotlight shined on him, making it harder to get tackles or sacks with not only against double teams, but cut blocks and pulling guards even when plays went away from him.
“If I could take two guys, that left a hole open for the man next to me or guys behind me to make a play,” Chapa said. “The main thing we learned about this season, especially knowing that we were small and would face bigger guys, was it’s all about speed and staying low. We had to fight through, be relentless and keep going no matter what.”
Kona senior Chase Takaki also earned double first-team honors at wide receiver and defensive back as well as junior Bubba Ellis-Noa at running back and linebacker.
Other Wildcat first-team picks are D-lineman Eric Edmound, receivers Luca Vartic and Cameron Howes, defensive back Brandon Awa, quarterback Brandon Howes, and kicker John Replogle.
It was a good awards haul for the Wildcats. But in the spirit of being a team-first player, Chapa shined a spotlight on center Zach Kaiwi, who wasn’t recognized.
“From the beginning of the season throughout the whole year, every single game he got singled against big boys, putting pressure on him,” Chapa said. “He’s a really good lineman. He keeps his feet moving. He doesn’t get discouraged. He’s small, too, compared to other guys. He keeps fighting, digs deep and shows everyone who we are and what we can do, even though we’re small.”
Kaiwi, a 5-11, 225-pound freshman, and Chapa are about the same size. Chapa’s take on his fellow Wildcat sounded like a pretty good self-description, especially the keep fighting part — one reason for his pile of All-BIIF awards.