You may not come across a more likable and soft-spoken 6-foot-5, 290-pound senior than Capital Christian defensive lineman Nifae Lealao. He lives out the values taught to him at the private Christian school, perhaps none more than the Golden Rule.
“I believe in building relationships and treating others how they want to be treated,” Lealao said. “I try to show kindness to everyone I meet and make (the Golden Rule) a reality.”
Of course, if the reciprocation for his kindness is double- and triple-teams, or illegal chop blocks, the gentle considerations for opponents can turn into a tenacious determination.
“I have seen him just blow up double teams,” Cougars head coach Phil Grams said. “When teams come after him, he can show an angry side and it can get ugly for opponents.”
Lealao’s athletic talents, size, and character have made him an attractive prospect for college recruiters. Grams believes his top defender is only going to get better.
“The speed and quickness he has for his size is unreal,” the coach said. “It’s hard for high school players to match up with him physically, and mentally he is recognizing more and making adjustments on the field that will make him even more difficult to deal with.”
In three varsity seasons, Lealao’s compiled 196 tackles, 11.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and one interception. He’s blocked 12 kicks, and has one career carry on offense “” a six-yard TD.
Lealao has been pursued by colleges since his sophomore season, but has not allowed the process to become tedious. Rather than let his future destination dictate his day-to-day activities, the kind-hearted four-star recruit has opted to focus on the present, which includes the Cougars’ nine-game regular season schedule beginning Aug. 30.
“I want to see schools and see what my options are after the season,” he said. “The process has not been as stressful as I thought it would be because I have the perfect parent-coach combination to get me through it. It has been enjoyable so far.”
Lealao’s busy schedule makes it easier for him to avoid getting overwhelmed by the singular focus of football recruiting. He is a force on defense for the basketball and volleyball teams at Capital Christian, creating a sports season that stretches from before school starts until the last weeks of the academic schedule.
“The philosophy at Capital Christian is for kids to be able to do it all,” Grams said. “From academics to multiple sports to having an impact in the community, we believe that our student-athletes should do everything they can while at school.”
As a three-sport star, Lealao is a model of that philosophy. The senior already owns two Sac-Joaquin Section basketball championships, but greater success for the football program is a priority for Lealao, Grams, and the entire football team.
“Last year was our best year ever in football record-wise and in most statistical categories,” Grams said, “but our first goal every year is to relentlessly pursue the (Golden Empire League) title.”
With Lealao doing unto others what he is capable of on the football field, a league title may be just the beginning for the Cougars in 2013.
“” Jim McCue
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