Senior running back Bill Chimphalee became the first Kenai Central player ever to receive the Gatorade Alaska Football Player of the Year, announced last week by the Gatorade Company.
The Kardinals have four small-schools state football titles to their credit. Also, in 1993, Kenai Central's Dennis Machado broke the state rushing record, which has since been broken. Chimphalee was able to earn the honor on a team that did not qualify for the state playoffs.
He finished with the state's seventh-best single-season rushing total at 1,930 yards and also had 31 touchdowns. He also was the small-schools Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-state defensive back. Chimphalee was the MVP of the Alaska Shrine Football Classic.
Chimphalee is the fourth football player from the peninsula to earn the Gatorade honor, joining 1988-89 winner Joe Roderick of Soldotna, 1995-96 winner Josh Coleman of Soldotna and 2001-02 winner David Holloway of Nikiski.
Chimphalee and Holloway are the only two small-schools players to win the award since the Alaska Schools Activities Association switched to the small- and large-schools format for the 2000 season.
"I think it says a lot about him as a football player," Kenai coach Jim Beeson said. "On the other hand, some of it is being in the right place at the right time. He had a little of that going for him. Nobody in the large schools had a great offensive season."
Chimphalee received the award not only for his work on the field, but also for his 3.67 grade-point average and his work in the community. He had worked with the Kenai football team to clean up the community each spring and served as a volunteer at a local youth football camp.
Beeson described Chimphalee coming to Kenai as a "meek, little freshman" and said a bunch of teachers and coaches, specifically Jim Dawson, deserve a lot of credit for getting him to where he is today.
"I just think it is great honor for not only him but for our team and conference, as well," Beeson said. "I think is just proves, and I think Soldotna proved it this year, that just because you are in the small schools does not mean you are not competitive with everybody."
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