Prep2Prep 2018 NCS Football Honors
Hayward's Nelson Suisala is our choice as NCS Sophomore of the Year. Jamond Williams/Napa Valley Register

NCS Sophomore of the Year

In an adversity-filled year for Hayward, it was a sophomore who stepped up to lead the Farmers. Nelson Suisala not only filled a void with his physical ability and his leadership, but his efforts carried Hayward to its first league title this decade and fifth straight trip to the playoffs.

The Farmers’ season could have been derailed or taken a major hit when senior defensive standout Naphtali Moimoi, who just signed with Wyoming, was lost for the year, or when multiple other starters were lost due to injury. Instead, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Suisala put the season on his capable shoulders and the defense thrived, allowing just 51 total points in five league games, resulting in a share of the WACC-Shoreline championship.

“If a team lost its best player, and best defensive player, for more than 90 percent of the season, you would assume that team would struggle,” said Hayward coach Justin Redemer. “But Nelson brought a physicality and leadership component that allowed our defense to be the backbone of our team. Without him, we certainly don’t win league, and without him, there’s a good chance we don’t even make the playoffs.”

Suisala racked up 90 tackles during the season, including 11.5 tackles for a loss, to go with 2.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Shoreline Division, especially after a 10-tackle performance against Tennyson to earn a share of the title, a game in which he also had a pair of stops behind the line against a Lancers’ team which had been unbeaten in league play up to that point.

The next week, in a dominant win over rival Mt. Eden to clinch the championship, Suisala not only had six more tackles, but broke up a pair of passes to show his versatility.

“Nelson reads and reacts and doesn’t waste any energy. He was just a dominant interior player for us,” Redemer added. “He was the focal point around which that defense performed, and even dished out some of the most physically intense hits I’ve seen all season in order to block kicks.”

In two years of varsity football, Suisala has already compiled over 150 tackles, over 20 of them behind the line. He also serves as a primary blocking back in a run-oriented offensive system, and leads multiple special teams units. In short, he is willing and able to contribute wherever needed on the field for his team to be a winner. And his biggest performances came in the Farmers’ closest games – four tackles behind the line in a close loss to TCAL-Stone champion Pinole Valley, 19 tackles in a 14-10 win over Washington, and three stops behind the line in a 10-7 win over Castro Valley.

For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Nelson Suisala as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Sophomore of the Year.

Other players considered for this award include Cardinal Newman’s Shane Moran, De La Salle’s Dorian Hale, Amador Valley’s Da’jhae Wiltshire, Rancho Cotate’s Mihalis Santorineos and Moreau Catholic’s Nikko Reed.