By Ben Rohrbach
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A dedicated ESPNHS POY team managed the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the awards program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character. For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Football Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Steven Lakalaka
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Punahou School (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Position: Running back
Weight: 205 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: Lakalaka rushed for 1,154 yards and 12 touchdowns on 218 carries this past season, leading the Buff n’ Blue (11-3) to the Division I state final. A two-time First Team All-State selection, he collected more than 100 rushing yards in a game four times in 2011, including a season-high 162 in a win over Iolani School (Honolulu, Hawaii) on Sept. 9.
Academic excellence: Lakalaka has maintained a 3.01 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A devoted member of his church community, Lakalaka has volunteered locally as a youth football and basketball coach.
THE PRAISE: Kale Ane, head coach at Punahou School
“Steven Lakalaka has been a model of consistency and excellence for us. Whenever we have needed him, he has come up big for us this season.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Lakalaka has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at UCLA beginning in the fall of 2012.