A family affair

Published 4:41 am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

EA back up quarterback Kevin Gumapac hands the ball off to younger brother Kainoa. The pair has already scored point this season and both players have years left to leave their marks on the Cougar program.

Being an older brother, it seems natural Escambia Academy’s Kevin Gumapac plays quarterback. Kevin relishes the role of leadership as more older brothers often do. He also plays defensive back, but prefers quarterback because he says quarterbacks have more of an impact.

“We get to control the offense and control the tempo of the game,” he said. “The quarterback—you have to be a team leader.”

Meanwhile, Kevin’s younger brother Kainoa, while also a defensive back, prefers the position of running back. At 4 feet 2 inches tall, he relies primarily on his quickness because typically players of such a size are not known primarily for their strength.

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“The biggest strength to me is running the football because I’m quicker than everybody on the football field,” he said. “My favorite position is running back because I have vision to help me with the quickness.”

Kainoa Gumapac was upfront that adding strength is something he is trying to work on.

“The biggest thing I need to work on for football is I need to get stronger,” he said. “Right now, I’m small and they just run me over. If I get stronger, it’ll help me to actually hit them back.”

Playing the more complicated position of quarterback, where reading a team’s defense and knowing the playbook inside and out rests in his hands, Kevin Gumapac has more to work on.

“My biggest thing that I need to work on is my passing and reading the defense,” he said. “When I’m not able to read what the secondary has, I won’t be able to throw the ball. It would be harder for me to pick out a wide receiver I’m going to throw it to. The other thing is picking up a blitz off the line. If I’m the quarterback and I don’t see the blitz, then I’m gonna’ get hit a couple times.”

Both brothers attend school and play football for Escambia Academy, and both are still young. Kevin is a freshman at the high school, while Kainoa is still in the eighth grade. Kainoa said playing for the Varsity team has been a positive experience for him.

“I get more help because you’re playing against older kids,” he said. “You get more experience.”

Kevin feels he’s been afforded more chances than at his previous school.

“When I was at Flomaton, I didn’t get very many opportunities. Here at EA, I’ve gotten a whole lot more,” he said. “I’ve gotten a whole lot more opportunities. If I keep getting opportunities, I’m going to try to take advantage of them.”

The brothers started playing football at the age of five. Their dad taught them the sport because he had played strong safety when he was in high school.

Kevin Gumapac said it took him a while to latch on to the sport.

“I first played it and I liked it,” he said. “I just didn’t catch on to it much. Now, I’ve started to like it more and more.”
Kainoa, on the other hand, has always seen football as a release.

It was my favorite sport because I could hit anybody without it being illegal,” he said. “I was just so happy because I was releasing all my anger.”

The Gumapac brothers received a pleasant surprise earlier this season when the team was playing against Sparta Academy.

“We were playing Sparta and we were beating them pretty badly in the third quarter and coach Fountain said, ‘Kevin you’re going to go in at quarterback’ and I was like ‘wow,’” Kevin said. “It surprised me because I didn’t know that our second-string quarterback Brett [Gorum] was sick that game and I didn’t know he wasn’t there. I got in and I was pretty excited to get some varsity playing time.”

Kainoa had his fair share of playing time, too.

“The most exciting game to me was against Sparta because I got to run the ball and in that game I scored a touchdown,” Kainoa Gumapac said. “I was so happy.”

For now, Kevin said he is relying on his legs, as well as his arm for success on the field.

“My biggest strength right now is whenever I get a chance to scramble,” he said. “When we first played Monroe [Academy] for a JV game, our coaches took statistics. I had gotten 127 yards rushing that game. I just like running the ball and it just feels like my biggest strength right now because I just started playing quarterback like usual. I’ve just now gotten to where I’m starting to throw the ball better.”

Kevin’s working hard to master the Varsity playbook and the mechanics, so that he will be able to rely more heavily on his arm.

“For JV, the playbook’s been pretty simple,” he said. “The one that’s really confused me is Varsity because the JV—we run a different formation than them. We run a pro set formation and on Varsity we run a spread. When we get in the spread, I have to do completely different stuff than I have to do under the center. Out of the spread, I run out of the shotgun.”

Kainoa is focused on setting a new precedent for the football team at Escambia Academy: winning a state championship.

“My favorite thing about playing here at EA is we have a better chance at getting a state ring,” he said. “No one here at EA [currently playing for the football team] has ever won a state championship before, so I just want to see if we can do it.”

The adjustment to playing for the Varsity team has been a challenge for both brothers, but they say they are hoping all their hard work will pay off.

“It’s been hard. Practices have been really hard,” Kevin said. “Coach Fountain’s been working our butts off, so that when we get to be seniors we’ll be ready.”

Spoken like a true leader.