His versatility and amazing recovery
By Bruce SmithMatchup
After being part of Herriman High School’s football program in its initial two years, Canyon Hansen was looking forward to a special season in 2012.
“He’s a guy that never wants to leave the field,” said Herriman coach Larry Wilson.
Wilson noticed him right away and tried to plug him into the lineup in as many different ways as possible. Hansen said he loved being part of Herriman’s history.
“It was fun to finish off the season with my fellow seniors that I grew up playing football with,” he said. “It was fun to see the kids up and coming and see them develop. It was fun to spend the year with the coaches. It was a good time and I loved it.”
Hansen was a two-sport athlete (football and rugby) and a three-year varsity football player. His junior year, he starred on defense, but also carried the ball 24 times for 171 yards and scored twice as the Mustangs finished 8-4 and advanced to the 4A state playoffs.
In the 4A play-in game, Hansen had an interception in the Mustangs’ 44-22 win over Springville. Even after a tough loss to eventual champion Logan the next week, Herriman was highly motivated entering 2012.
And it started well.
On the first play of Herriman’s opener at Orem, Hansen caught a pass from quarterback Tueni Lupeamanu and used his speed to spring the rest of the way for a 69-yard touchdown.
Hansen remembered the play well.
“I was split out in the slot,” he recalled. “It was an all-streak route and I had an opening. The (Orem) guys didn’t me any respect. I just burned it down the field. I caught it on their 30-yard line and just ran the rest of the way. I didn’t get touched.”
He had another reception for 46 yards as the Mustangs rolled to a 49-21 win. Hansen said that game was clearly his season highlight.
“That was my only touchdown (of the season),” he said. “After that, we were running scarce at corner(back), so I ended up playing more of that.”
Hansen had just seven catches on the season, but averaged a team-high 24.4 yards per reception. In Herriman’s seventh game – a 42-9 win over Olympus – he broke a bone in his right hand. That may have sidelined most guys, but Hansen was too eager to play. He only missed the game at Murray the following week, and was back in the lineup after that.
The way he handled his injury affected a lot of people, including Wilson.
“We lost him for a little bit, but he did everything he could to come back,” Wilson said. “Against doctor’s orders, he suited up pretty fast and started against East.”
“I wanted to be back for senior night (against Westlake). I had a cast on and I played,” Hansen said. “High-school football is always what I wanted to become and I had looked forward to it. It was important to be recognized.”
Hansen said it was also important to show others that Herriman football was something special.
“With our success, and as we gradually build our record, people will realize we’re not just another team,” he said. “We’re growing as a community the football team is getting more recognition.”
Hansen felt it started when Herriman made the playoffs in its first year, but the Mustangs’ 29-28 overtime win over rival Riverton in 2011 made a lot of people notice.
“We showed the state and Riverton that we were not just another second-year program,” he said. “We had the talent and ability to achieve our goals.”
Hansen also felt that playing rugby helped.
“It made us more physical,” he said. “It’s like a spring football season. Most of the football guys play, so it allows us to build as a team. When the football season comes around, we have that same chemistry.”
Hansen said he planned to serve an LDS Church mission after graduation and then enroll at Southern Utah University, majoring in sports broadcasting and earning a minor in music or dance – his favorite class at Herriman.