The final San Francisco 49ers Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week award of the 2015 season goes to Mark Kaanapu from Westmont High School in Campbell, CA.
The Westmont Warriors defeated the visiting Branham Bruins 49-27 in a BVAL Santa Teresa division game to improve to 5-1 in league play.
"I'm just really proud of this team," said Westmont Head Coach Mark Kaanapu. "It's what we've preached from the start – 'It's not how you start, but how you finish.' To start off behind the eight ball with two losses off the bat… to battle and compete week in and week out and respond to all the challenges in front of them and do everything we asked of them… I'm proud of this group," continued Coach Kaanapu.
Westmont's running game was too much for Branham to handle. The Bruins had no answer, as the Warriors continually pounded the rock for hard earned rushing touchdowns.
"Friday night it was a matter of doing what works. Our line was doing a great job and our two running backs were running hard. We scored on our first four drives. If it's not broke, don't fix it, right?" explained Kaanapu.
It was a running back showcase for the Warriors. Senior running back Cooper Horwitz led the way for the Warriors rushing for 224 yards on 27 carries. It was Howitz who broke off first on a big gainer, scoring on a 55 yard run early in the first. Sophomore running back Tyerinn Pollard was right behind him. Pollard had the second touchdown on the following offensive series, rushing for 202 yards on 15 carries.
"It's a great combination to have. Horwitz is more of a slasher, whereas Pollard is more of a power runner. When you put them together, it's a good combo," said Coach Kaanapu.
Both running backs had three touchdowns a piece in the ground attack and over 200 yards. Senior Jackson Scalise also had a 19-yard touchdown run in the win.
This is Mark Kaanapu's second season as Head Coach at Westmont High School after taking over the program in 2014. Kaanapu came to Westmont with a loaded resume with experience in both the high school and college ranks. He previously coached at Live Oak High School, Menlo College, Merced Junior College, Portland State and Watsonville High School. The head coaching job at Westmont was a homecoming for the Campbell native. Mark Kaanapu went to high school in Campbell and taught at Westmont in 1999. He never lost touch with his friends and those in the Westmont community, and when the head coaching job at Westmont opened up after the 2013 season they knew he was the man for the job.
"It was time to come home," said Head Coach Mark Kaanapu. "It was time to come home to good people, good kids, and a wonderful community. I am teaching in the district I graduated from, which is really cool."
Coach Kaanapu also teaches Social Science at Westmont High School.
Coach K has his Warriors sitting 5-1 in league play sitting atop the division tied with Silver Creek as they prepare to travel to their division foe this Friday to finish off the 2015 regular season with a 'win or go home' game to make the playoffs. The winner of the Friday night showdown will be crowned division champions and head to the CCS Playoffs, and the other's season will come to an end.
"We are right there on the bubble now with this win. This game Friday night is what high school football is all about. To get the opportunity to play at the end of the season for it all – I mean that's what high school football is all about," said Coach Kaanapu.
Coach K insisted it was an honor to be selected among his competitors, and those who have become longtime friends. Previous recipients of the Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week award, Eric Luescher and Kevin Collins, are both league rivals but more importantly good friends of Kaanapu's and two men that he has the utmost respect for as he prepares to face Kevin Collin's on the opposite side line Friday night for the championship.
"It's one of those football games that you like to compete against people you respect. Kevin is a good friend of mine, and I respect him greatly. It is going to be a great game,' said Kaanapu.
Being selected for this award is personal for the head coach. Kaanapu knew Charlie Wedemeyer personally and their family connection stems back to Kaanapu's childhood. Charlie and his father played football together in Hawaii and had a very close relationship. Kaanapu grew up with him since his elementary school days and associates the term 'uncle' with the relationship the two had. He grew up always looking to play for Charlie Wedemeyer at Los Gatos High School.
"It's just an honor. I had a chance to play and coach against him, and watch how he coached his teams. What he instilled in his players, I try to do now. Especially in terms of family, treating people the right way, exemplifying integrity… I hope to do the very same thing every day here," said Coach Kaanapu.
"We had a really special relationship, so this is a little more special to me that one could understand."
As part of The San Francisco 49ers Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week award, Coach Mark Kaanapu, will receive a $1,000 grant for Westmont High School from the 49ers Foundation. As our Coach of the Week, he will also receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field. In the weeks leading up to the game, Coach Kaanapu will be invited to the visit the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where 49ers Head Coach Jim Tomsula will officially present him with his award. Coach Kaanapu will also be featured on Cal-Hi Sports.
Congratulations Coach Kaanapu and the entire Westmont football team!