Victor Maccharoli / Daily News
Paly lineman Koloto one of the bestIt's no wonder Palo Alto offensive guard and defensive tackle Fred Koloto was chosen as the most valuable lineman in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division the past two years. The senior Koloto, who leads the Vikings' line in Saturday's state title game vs. Orange Lutheran, is one of the most sought-after Vikings in the history of the school.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Koloto has seven concrete Division I offers - from Nebraska, Washington, BYU, Utah, San Jose State, Fresno State and San Diego State.
"It's an honor to be named most valuable lineman in the league," Koloto said. "All my hard work and everything my parents had to go through with me. My coaches, my teammates. It wasn't just me, it was them who helped me out. All the credit goes to them for making me the player that I am right now."
"Koloto's strength is that he's consistent," Paly head coach Earl Hansen said. "He's very tough. He knocks a guy down and he's right back ready for the next play."
The Vikings often run over left guard where Koloto resides. Reaping the benefit are fullback Sione Mataele and halfbacks Will Frazier and Evan Warner.
"I've gained a lot of yards running over Fred (Koloto)," Frazier said. "I like running behind him."
On defense, Koloto rotates series with Kyle Bristol and sometimes Mataele. Against Orange Lutheran, Koloto may be asked to play more downs defensively.
"Whatever helps our team," Koloto said. "Whatever it takes for us to win that game, I'll do it. I like offense because that's what I'm projected to play in college. I like playing defense, hitting quarterbacks and running backs. At the same time, I like blasting middle linebackers and putting them on their backs."
The surprising tidbit about Koloto's success is that he didn't take up the game of football until his freshman year at Palo Alto. He learned quickly, becoming a two-way starter on the varsity since his sophomore year. He snaps on PATs and field goals.
Playing in the state title game is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Koloto.
"It's exciting for me," Koloto said. "I've never experienced this level of playing competition that I'm going to be facing on Saturday. We've played in two CCS title games, but this game is going to be the biggest game of my life, so far. Hopefully, later on, I'll have more coming for me."
Koloto said the Vikings, ranked No. 20 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, aren't going down to Carson just to show up and be handled by the No. 4-ranked Lancers.
"Our main goal was to win our league and CCS," Koloto said. "Playing in the state game was never in our thoughts. Now we want to get this thing done. We're not going down there and have fun. This is business for us. All the talk about them, that they're the best, we don't care about that. We're going down there to represent ourselves, represent our school, represent our community, the Northern Cal."
And Koloto doesn't mind being the underdog.
"If that's the role they want us to be in, I'm fine with it," Koloto said. "When we're successful, it just shows how much heart we have and how hard we have worked as a team."
Koloto could be matched up against Lancers massive defensive tackle Michael Reardon, who earned a ride to USC. A good game by Koloto Saturday, maybe a pancake or two of Reardon, might land Koloto even more offers.
"For me, I'm not worried about the recruiting process right now," Koloto said. "My main focus is to help this team and win this thing. After all is said and done, then I'll get into making my choices for next year."
Koloto doesn't have any particular game that was a memorable one. This game vs. Orange Lutheran could very well be memorable for Koloto and the Vikings.
"All the games are memorable for me," Koloto said. "It's an honor to come to Palo Alto and win CCS and hopefully getting it done at state."
If you're watching in person on Saturday, keep the binoculars on No. 72. One of Paly's greatest lineman will be playing with all his heart in his final game as a Viking.
E-mail John Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org.