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Top 20 prep football players countdown: Syracuse’s Kavika Fonua

The top 20 blueprint wasn’t necessarily based strictly on recruiting interest, although it did play into account, but rather a collection of players that influence the outcome each Friday night in the realm of Utah high school football.

I’ll publish a blog post each day unveiling the top 20 impact players in the state — in no particular order — in my unabashed opinion. All selections are entirely my own. Submit your feedback in the comment section below and I’ll respond accordingly. Stay up to date with Utah high school football on Twitter by following me @TPhibbsDNews.

Now, without further adieu:

20. Korey Rush, East. Defensive End.

19. Baron Gajkowski, Lone Peak. Quarterback.

18. Gaje Ferguson, Mountain Crest. Running back; outside linebacker.

17. Cole Nelson, Juan Diego. Quarterback; safety.

16. Nolan Gray, Orem. Receiver.

15. Mori Savini, Taylorsville. Defensive tackle; fullback.

14. Koi Cook, Grand. Running back; defensive back.

13. Isaiah Holloway, Timpview. Defensive back.

12. Brandon Farmer, Herriman. Running back.

11. Drew Batchelor, Dixie. Receiver.

10. Kavika Fonua, Syracuse. Defensive back; running back.

Syracuse's Kavika Fonua looks for extra yardage after slipping a tackle.

Syracuse’s Kavika Fonua looks for extra yardage after slipping a tackle.

Nitty-gritty: 6-feet, 200-pounds; undeclared.

Qualifications: Kavika Fonua spent the entire week of preparation for last year’s 5A state championship in questionable status with a severely sprained ankle. Although the Titans lost handily that November day, he eventually worked through the pain, and started against Jordan — only to lead his team with double digit tackles.

Fonua currently maintains offers from BYU and Utah after recording 100 tackles and four sacks while adding 523 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in his junior season. He also led Region 1 in punt and kick return average.

Defensively, Fonua is extremely athletic, deceptively fast, and can outmuscle many receivers in jump ball scenarios. He has rattlesnake-closing speed while roaming at safety, and is very reliable tackler in run game support. But, where he’ll be most valuable in 2013 is carrying the rock offensively.

Graduation bulldozed the Titans offense, leaving only Fonua and quarterback Kole Tracy, who saw extensive action after incumbent starter Brock Anderson suffered a season ending torn Achilles. The Titans run to set up the pass, which obviously isn’t logical if a running back isn’t a legitimate threat. Fonua, who averaged 8.3 yards per carry, can certainly fulfill that role.

Syracuse starts the season ranked No. 3 in the Deseret News Top 25 with seven returning starters on a defense that gave up 10 points per game in 11 outings before the nightmare. The Titans have the dark side locked up. Fonua, in an improved Region 1, holds the key to locking up the offense.

Email: tphibbs@deseretnews.com

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