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Monday, December 10, 2007

Seta Pohahau Daily New Player of the Year

Aragon running back/linebacker Seta Pohahau didn't hesitate on whether he prefers playing defense to offense or vice versa.

"I like playing defense better than playing offense," said the senior Pohahau, the Daily News Player of the Year for 2007.

That's quite a statement considering Pohahau rushed for 1,927 yards, scoring 21 touchdowns. On defense, Pohahau was a terror, registering double digits in sacks with 23 tackles-for-loss. This season was the first time that Pohahau, a three-year varsity player, had played on the defensive side of the ball for the Dons. Pohahau, who rushed for around 4,000 yards in his career at Aragon, is expected to play running back at BYU next year.

"He could play either side of the ball on Saturdays," Menlo School coach Mark Newton said of Pohahau. "He could play strong safety or weakside linebacker. He has a natural sense of the game. As a running back, he has great vision and power. Pohahau's one of the best high school players I have seen in years."

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Pohahau is the second Dons player to be named Daily News player of the year in the past three years, joining Matangi Tonga, the 2005 honoree. Tonga's older brother, Manase, will be a senior running back at BYU next fall and was an all-time Aragon great himself.

"Seta compares very favorably with Manase," Aragon coach Steve Sell said. "In terms of being a dominant force on defense and offense, Seta and Manase definitely belong in the same sentence. Seta is a little bit quicker than Manase. When you combine Seta's speed, strength, quickness, lateral agility and great instincts, it makes for a great high school running back. He's deceptively powerful. He's a great kid and a pleasure to coach."

Sell related a story of a play when Pohahau carried the ball in the Dons' Central Coast Section Large School Division semifinal game against Menlo-Atherton.

"There was a player from M-A that was unblocked," Sell said. "There was a collision at the line of scrimmage. It turned out to be a 10-yard gain for Pohahau. There were a number of plays he ran during the season that went for big yards that had no business going for big yards. The great ones make plays on their own. He finishes every run. He runs like a guy possessed and refuses to go down."

The CCS semifinal was Pohahau's final game as a Don as Aragon fell 41-28. Pohahau went out in style, rushing for 123 yards on 15 carries. He caught two short passes and turned them into touchdown receptions of 62 and 46 yards, leaving Bears defenders in his wake as he turned on the jets. Pohahau gained the bulk of his rushing yardage in the first half. That's mainly because he broke his left thumb while sacking M-A quarterback Troy McCabe early in the third period and was unable to carry the ball after that.

Pohahau, however, doesn't mind playing in pain. One of his favorite plays in his prep career occurred in a game against Terra Nova. That's when Aragon linebacker Ahmed Shehade and Pohahau collided.

"They ran a quarterback sneak and Ahmed and I went for the same guy," Pohahau said. "I came from the left side and he came from the right side. Ahmed hit me, and I cut my lip. That was fun."

One of Pohahau's many highlight reel runs was bittersweet, an electrifying 71-yard gallop in the Dons' 21-14 loss to Menlo-Atherton in the regular season. The play began at the Dons' 2-yard line. However, Pohahau was stripped of the ball at the end of the run and fumbled with the Bears recovering. The loss helped end a four-year Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division reign by the Dons. Despite gaining 141 yards on the ground, Pohahau took the loss hard, standing stoically in M-A's west end zone for a long time after the game was done.

"Seta couldn't live without football," Sell said. "He loves the game that much. If he could play three games a week, he would do it. You'd have to drag him off the field."

"I love football because you can hit somebody without getting in trouble," Pohahau said. "I don't try to be physical, but if there's no other option, I'm as physical as I can be when I get the chance."

Pohahau took the ball and ran with it in his days at Aragon. This season, he proved he could take down ball carriers, not just run them over.

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