From the moment you first see him on the field, it’s evident Noa Pola-Gates has “football intangibles.”
It’s a phrase which is frequently tossed around but no one will argue with Williams Field High School junior’s football lineage. His cousin, Isaiah Pola-Mao, is a former Mountain Pointe two-way standout and current USC freshman safety. His uncle, Troy Polamalu, is one of the more decorated safeties in NFL history.
Of course, Pola-Gates patterns his defensive skills in the secondary after his uncle, while studying New York Giants star wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. on the opposite side of the ball.
Where the Pola-Gates lines up, plays usually follow as evidenced in last week’s 13-0 win over Deer Valley. The rising prospect who already has an offer from the University of Arizona caught four passes for 104 yards and score, as well as rushed six times for 58 yards…all while patrolling the back half of the Black Hawks stingy defense.
“I love playing defense,” Pola-Gates said to Sports360AZ.com when asked which side of the ball he prefers more. “I just love playing safety because I just like coming up and hitting. I’ve loved hitting ever since I was little.”
I love the game of football so much😍🤤
— Žero++•🇦🇸 (@NoaPola) August 26, 2017
Pola-Gates isn’t just hitting WF opponents, he’s also been hitting the books improving his study habits and becoming a more well-rounded student athlete.
“That’s probably where most of his growth has come,” Williams Field head coach Steve Campbell said to Sports360AZ.com. “He’s understanding the importance of academics now. He’s really focused.”
Part of that focus has been engrained by his uncle who challenged his nephew to match his effort between the white lines to his effort in the classroom as he approaches a crucial time in his college recruiting with still almost two full years of high school remaining.
— Žero++•🇦🇸 (@NoaPola) July 25, 2017
Campbell is fully aware of Pola-Gates’ unique skills as a two-way star for the defending 5A State Champions, who lost a number of offensive weapons but appear poised for another deep playoff run this fall.
“He’s really a dynamic player,” he said with a grin. “Any time he has the ball in his hands he can take it for a touchdown. That’s always huge.”
Sometimes it’s all about those football intangibles.