Week nine of the football season is in the books and in San Jose, we saw a tough match up with league championship implications between the Independence 76ers, led by head coach Steve Papin, and the Del Mar Dons. The 76ers were able to control the pace of the game thanks in part to their star two-way player- Jaremmy Kanongataa', and came away with a 35-0 shutout.
Kanongataa' is a 6'1", 280lbs offensive guard and defensive tackle for the 76ers who transferred to Independence his sophomore year. This senior team captain did the dirty work up front to allow his teammates to make plays and still had a stellar stat line with five tackles, two tackles for loss, two pancake blocks and one sack!
Going into the game, Papin was a bit nervous about Del Mar's momentum. "They just came off of a big win against an undefeated Overfelt team so we needed to play our best football," he said. "One of our strengths this season has been our defensive line and Del Mar runs the ball a lot, so we felt like that would be the determining factor of the game."
It didn't take long for the 76ers to control the line of scrimmage however, "Their first series we held them to minus two yards and forced them to punt" recalled Papin. "Throughout the game we were able to hold our own and keep their rushing attack at bay. I think they were around 100 yards of total offense for the game."
The 76ers jumped out to an early lead, going up 21-0 right before the half, keeping momentum on their side. "Once we got into the locker room, our halftime message was to keep our foot on the gas," Papin said. "We knew Del Mar was a strong second half team and we did not want them to get any momentum to allow them to get back into the game."
In the second half, the 76ers utilized their power run game on offense with Kanongataa' as the lead blocker. He continually pulled on plays and set up big blocks for his running backs to make plays of their own. "We had over 450 yards rushing on the night and Jaremmy was instrumental in that success," Papin recalled. "He was making lanes for his running backs to make plays."
Papin remained adamant about Kanongataa's impact on both sides of the ball throughout the game. "Jaremmy held his own all night," he said. "On the interior defensive line as a fan it is hard to acknowledge the play of a defensive tackle. But as a coach, seeing linebackers run freely without any offensive lineman getting to the second level, that's a great sign that your defensive tackle is doing his job. Jaremmy was forcing double teams all night giving his teammates clean reads to make plays, and he even diagnosed a screen and made a huge play on that. He is a team player by every definition of the word."
When asked about Kanongataa's leadership style Papin replied, "He is a calm leader. Almost a gentle giant type. He can read the situation and knows what his team needs. Sometimes if he feels like his teammates aren't fully focused he brings them back to the task at hand. He's a great kid that loves football and the team really respects his drive."
Papin was extremely proud of Kanongataa' winning the award. "He is just a genuine human being," Papin said. "No matter what is going on in his world, school, family, etc., he shows me and his teammates love and passion. For two seasons we have had this special hand shake after practice and no matter what went on that day, we always finish with that and it brings us right back to the present. Things matter to Jaremmy, he's the kinds of guy that you love to coach."
Jaremmy is also a 3.0 GPA student and commits a lot of his extra time to his family, community, and his church. He is focused on having a great senior season and looks forward to going on his mission trip once his senior year comes to an end. Needless to say, we are excited to nominate him as the Player of the Week and can't wait to see how the season turns out for #77!
As the home school of the 49ers High School Player of the Week presented by U.S. Bank, Independence High School will receive a $500 grant for their football program from the 49ers Foundation. As part of this award, Kanongataa' will receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field during pre-game. At the end of the season, Kanongataa' will be invited to the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, will officially present him with his award.