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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Keola Antolin runs away with Sunset honor

Gaels' big-play threat selected as region's top offensive player

In an area full of big-play threats, none has been bigger than Bishop Gorman's Keola Antolin this season.

Antolin, a senior running back, averages 9.4 yards per carry and has 13 rushing touchdowns.

He also has shown he can catch the ball out of the backfield, averaging 29.6 yards a catch with four touchdowns.

There's more. Antolin has returned six kicks for touchdowns -- four punts, a kickoff and a missed field goal.

The area's coaches took notice of Antolin's numbers, naming him the Sunset Region Offensive Player of the Year.

"Keola's a threat," Gorman coach Bob Altshuler said. "He's such a big threat with his speed. Over the years, he's developed such great natural ability for weaving in and out."

Antolin, whose Gorman team plays McQueen in the Class 4A state title game Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium, has rushed for 1,257 yards. But more impressive may be his return numbers. He has averaged 35.1 yards per punt return and 43.6 on kickoffs, forcing teams to change their plans on special teams.

"He brings another dimension," Altshuler said. "When you play us, are you going to punt the ball to him? Kick the ball to him?"

Antolin isn't the only standout for the undefeated Gaels. Junior defensive end Justin Chaisson also has impressed, registering 22 sacks in 10 regular-season games.

Chaisson was named the Sunset Region's co-Defensive Player of the Year with Palo Verde linebacker Liloa Nobriga.

"His speed and just natural ability to get to the quarterback or the running back is the biggest thing," Altshuler said of the 6-foot-4-inch, 265-pound Chaisson.

Nobriga was a pleasant addition to a Palo Verde team that finished second to Gorman in the Sunset Region.

Nobriga moved to the area from Hawaii before the season and led the Panthers with 121 tackles, including 16 for loss. He also had 11 sacks.

"He transferred in August, and he was really a surprise," Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. "Having a kid like that show up at your doorstep (was nice)."

While Nobriga may have been a surprise at Palo Verde, it was no surprise that Canyon Springs quarterback Devonte Christopher was named the Sunrise Region's Offensive Player of the Year.

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