*The 49ers High School Player of the Week Award for week 2 goes to #11, Paul Fonkwo Jr. of Branham High School in San Jose, CA. *
You would have never guessed Senior, Paul Fonkwo suffered a season ending ankle injury his Junior year after the explosive performance he showcased under the bright lights last Friday. The Fonkwo Show began in the second quarter with a 93-yard kickoff return followed by an 11-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Tanner Scattini.
"Getting big plays from special teams changes the momentum of the game and Paul's kickoff return was no different," stated Head Coach Nick Gardiner, "His run allowed us to put points on the board early on."
It was all tied up at after the first half. Going into the second, the Branham Bruins looked to play fast, stay disciplined and capitalize on turnovers; all key elements in Fonkwo's defensive segment of the show.
As a cornerback, Fonkwo racked up 4 tackles, 2 pass break ups and a game changing 35-yard fumble recovery resulting in a touchdown for the Bruins.
"He is a defensive player first and we expect him to be a cornerstone defensive player this season," said Gardiner, "his fumble recovery was huge in the second half and made the difference for our team."
"Fonkwo is a play maker," boasted Gardiner.
The Bruins finished the game with a 32-yard touchdown run, outscoring Homestead by 20 in the second half for a 42-22 victory.
Fonkwo has 3 years of varsity experience, however, as a Senior, he has now become more of a leader for the team than ever before. As a lead by example teammate, the coaching staff value his vast knowledge of the game and competitive approach he brings to practice every day. Branham coaches describe him as a humble leader who doesn't take his talent granted and continues to compete.
Fonkwo's reliability and dependability are traits Coach Gardiner thinks make him an important block in the foundation of the Bruins Varsity team.
"We always know what to expect from him…he is one of the best competitors on our team, but even in competition he will always have his teammate's back," explained Gardiner.
"He is not an 'I' guy, he is a 'we' dude…he wants to make the people around him better," Gardiner said, "He is a liked and respected guy on campus…he is one of those athletes and students you always hear good things about."
Not only does Fonkwo strive to lead by example on the field but he works to lead in his community through his continued dedication to the Bruins track and field team and involvement in his church. He has participated in track and field for the past three years and plans to continue in his Senior season as well. Outside of school, Fonkwo plays the drums for his church and dedicates much of his time to church activities with his family.
As the home school of the 49ers High School Player of the Week, Branham High School will receive a $500 grant for their football program from the 49ers Foundation. As part of this award, Fonkwo 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, Fonkwo 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.