Wednesday, January 09, 2013
DAILY BREEZE 2012 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR: Narbonne's Paulo Lepua
Forget a lunch pail. Narbonne defensive end Paulo Lepua brings his lunch in a sack.
Lepua was the sultan of sacks, leading an aggressive and lockdown defense that helped Narbonne reach new heights.
Overall, Lepua recorded 26 sacks, earning the 2012 Daily Breeze Defensive Player of the Year award. | VIDEO
That does not include the sack on a rainy field at the North-South All-Star game in Visalia or the three-sack effort in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl at Home Depot Center.
"To get 26 sacks against who we played - that's impressive," Narbonne coach Manuel Douglas said. "He has an ability to take a game over. He's just so disruptive."
It used to be that Lepua was disruptive - off the field.
Lepua has a goofball sense of humor and likes to keep it light. But Douglas said it was a distraction in the past. This year, Lepua was all business. And it showed.
"This is the year he grew up," Douglas said.
Lepua, a Washington State recruit, credited line coach Eddie Davis for setting him on the righteous path.
"It started with Coach Pooty," Lepua said. "Sophomore year, he was always in my face, and now I know he was trying to help me. My junior year, I did well. Then senior year, it was time to pay back all the time he put in with me."
Lepua's maturity came full circle in the week leading up to the Serra showdown.
Narbonne was doing its "Fuji Runs" where the No. 1 offensive player takes on the No. 1 defensive player, and so on.
Lepua had finally had enough.
"He called out the entire defense," Douglas said. "He even called out Keishawn (Bierria) and Redd (Marquis Lomax). I didn't have to do anything. For him to step up on his own, that was huge."
Lepua enjoyed a banner game against Banning. After a rough first quarter, Lepua recorded six sacks - all in the second quarter. Douglas took the starters out of the game at halftime.
Lepua also looks back fondly on the San Pedro game because he was given a chance to score his only high school touchdown.
And of course there was the 14-0 run to the CIF State Regional bowl.
"We all just bonded this season," Lepua said. "We saw each other as brothers, not just as teammates."