Oly’s talented LB finally got a chance
By Bruce SmithMatchup
The year – 2012 – went far better than Tanner Goates expected.
Then, during football season, the Titans again tied for the region crown and Goates was named the region’s defensive MVP and second team all-state.
Not bad for a guy who skipped playing football during junior high and, if not for a few friends, may not have played again.
“I was as surprised (to win the region award) as everyone else,” Goates said. “I never did get into the recruiting thing. It wasn’t my goal to play in college. I never really looked at football as being part of my future.”
It probably won’t be, but there’s no doubt Goates went out on a high note. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, he led Olympus with 82 tackles. His resume also included 5.5 sacks, two pass interceptions and a blocked punt.
This came after he played sparingly as a junior.
“We had a lot senior linebackers who were playing ahead of me and I only got in occasionally,” he said. “We had a young group of linebackers this year and coach (Aaron Whitehead) told me I needed to take a leadership role.
“It was a lot of fun playing with my friends. It’s a dream come true to play with your best buds.”
Goates said his best game came in the Region 7 opener at Westlake when the Titans held the Thunder to only two rushing yards and won, 26-6. Goates was credited with just five tackles, but two sacks, a pass interception and the blocked kick.
The highlight of the season, however, came a few weeks later on a rainy, cold October night when Olympus defeated rival Skyline 27-9 to force a three-way tie for the region championship.
Goates, Tate Benson and Matthew Steffensen anchored the defense, which limited Skyline’s high-power running game to 154 yards and no points after the first quarter. It was also “Senior Night” and the opening of the west-side bleacher section of the new stadium, creating a capacity crowd.
“It was an emotional game,” Goates recalled. “I know a few of those guys. It’s nice to have that over them.”
Goates said events associated with the Skyline were among his best memories.
* - “Everyone coming up to me and wishing me good luck in the game all week. The students and faculty were all excited.
* - “I always liked how Coach Whitehead told the story of The Rock. He had his own rendition and he got excited about it and it got us pumped up. He had some great speeches throughout the year.
* -“I had a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. That will stick out because it was Skyline and it was fun to hear all the fans cheer.”
The cheering continued for Goates after the football season when he made the varsity basketball team (after playing on the JV squad a year earlier). He got some playing time, coming off the bench, and Oly quickly became the favorite to win region and challenge again for the state title.
The end of the basketball season, however, might also be the end of Goates’ glory days. After graduation, he planned to work for a few months before going on an LDS Church mission.
The Goates name may reappear, however, on Oly rosters. He has three younger brothers and he said all are pretty good athletes.