Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2018

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SUN STANDOUT AWARDS:

Male Rising Star: Ma’a Gaoteote, Faith Lutheran football

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Christopher DeVargas

Ma’a Gaoteote

Ma’a Gaoteote accomplished a lot during his freshman season on the gridiron at Faith Lutheran, racking up 56 tackles, three sacks and an interception from his outside linebacker position. And he’s just getting started.

With his physicality, versatility and advanced mind for the game, Gaoteote should spend the next three years producing at an exceptional level in the middle of the Crusaders’ defense.

“I’m more of your hybrid [linebacker],” Gaoteote says. “I can play in space, I can play downhill and do a lot of different things.”

Despite all the highlight plays Gaoteote made between the lines last season, he says his favorite moment was suiting up against his older brother Palaie, a senior linebacker at Bishop Gorman.

Palaie will play at USC next year, and in February, Ma’a also committed to the Trojans. “Playing my brother was the highlight for me, because we always used to bump heads as kids,” Ma’a says. “Getting to play him before he leaves was special.”

Finalists:

• Axel Botticelli, Palo Verde tennis: Won the 4A individual tennis championship, helped Palo Verde win team title.

• Steele Dias, Green Valley wrestling: Won second straight individual state championship, helped team place second at state.

• Jaden Hardy, Coronado basketball: Averaged 25 points, five rebounds and four assists per game, drawing scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona State, Florida and UNLV.

• Julian Strawther, Liberty basketball: Averaged 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists per game, ranking as the state’s No. 1 basketball recruit.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.