Monday, April 30, 2012

Skyview football: Kody Odom profile

In late April, I interviewed Skyview (Idaho) middle linebacker Kody Odom and we talked about his career there, especially the recent football season. Here is the article that will appear in this year's Skyview football yearbook.

Kody Odom:

Three-year starter left his mark
as one of team’s strongest athletes

By Bruce Smith

             Before Kody Odom starred at middle linebacker for the Skyview Hawks football team, he was a weightlifter.
           He was a fixture in the weight room just after eighth grade. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Clint, who is now a bodybuilder.
            Kody, at 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds, was fit and fast, and he broke new ground in football.
            “I was always bigger than most kids my age, even before I started lifting,” he said. “I had a good relationship with coach (David) Young and was awarded a chance to start (on the football team) as a sophomore.
            “I showed them I was capable and I was the starter ever since.”
            Odom was always in the thick of things. He would run with reckless abandon to tackle ball carriers, which had its good and bad points. He was a two-time all-SIC player.
            As a senior, Odom was Skyview’s third-leading tackler. He was named the defense’s co-MVP but holds the school’s career tackles mark that may never be broken.
            “I’m going to miss it (football),” he said. “I wish I could go back. Everyone tells you how fast it would go by. I wish I would have taken the time to enjoy it more.”
            The season started slowly. Odom wasn’t in the lineup in the opener against Fruitland. He suffered a concussion during summer camp and couldn’t practice, or work out for almost a month. He returned in time for Skyview’s second game against Kuna and was selected the defensive player of the game.
            “I didn’t feel like I did well, but I guess I did,” he said.
            Odom delivered some of Skyview’s hardest hits. He remembered delivering several jarring blows, sometimes even knocking the helmet off an opponent. He tried to keep his emotions under control, but found it difficult in games when the Hawks fell behind.
            “Middleton and Blackfoot were the toughest,” he said. “I kept getting pushed in the back and I was getting emotional about it to the refs and almost got kicked out. I was really frustrated.”
            But for most of the season, Odom felt like he and the Skyview defense were in control, even in the biggest games.
            Against Middleton, the Hawks held the Vikings scoreless in the second half and rallied for a 20-17 victory.
            The following week, preseason favorite Columbia was blanked the only time all season. In that game, Odom had a pass deflection early in the game that was snared by teammate Kyle Cothern that led to the game’s only score. On Columbia’s next possession, Odom hung on to the ball and returned it deep into Wildcat territory.
            “My interception was pretty cool. Everyone was saying how awesome Austin Schaffer was,” he said. “It was the only interception of my high-school career. That was a fun game. If I could go back and play any game again, it would be that one.”
            Skyview then hung on to beat Bishop Kelly and advance into the 4A state playoffs, where they took on eventual champion Blackfoot. After a tough first half, the defense dug in and made it a game. It turned out Blackfoot’s most-difficult postseason game was its 35-25 win over the Hawks.
            “My best game was against Blackfoot,” Odom said. “At the start of the season, I wasn’t in the best shape. By the end, I was at my peak. The team came a long way and we’re set up well for the future.”
            If they work as hard as Odom, they might. Odom said he could thank assistant coach Josh Bravo for that.
            “We called it ‘Bravo Time,’ and it sucks,” Odom said. “Bravo helped with the defensive line but he is also the conditioning coach. He worked us hard, but it paid off. You use ‘Bravo Time’ to get in shape. If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t have done as well.”
            Odom said he planned to use “Bravo Time” to his advantage. The concussion and a nagging shoulder injury that continued after football have reduced his interest in playing at the next level. After graduation, he said he planned to enlist in the military and hopes to eventually become a detective.
            “I’ll always remember all that we accomplished here, but it’s time to move on,” he said. “Still, this was a great experience.”

Skyview football: Zach Treinen profile

In late April, I interviewed Skyview QB Zach Treinen and we talked about the great season he had. Here is the article that will appear in Skyview football yearbook.


Hawks’ QB took his place and rose
to the occasion when it counted

By Bruce Smith

            Zach Treinen waited for his chance to be quarterback at Skyview High School.
            A Hawks’ fan all his life, he was the backup to Hunter Hyde last year. He played a mopup role, getting action in four or five games during Skyview’s 8-3 season.
            “I would get in during the fourth quarter,” he recalled. “I was never told I would be the starting quarterback this year. I had to prove myself. At the start of the summer, I told myself that it was now or never and dedicated myself to football.”
            It paid off. Treinen said he felt jittery before Skyview’s first game at Fruitland. He wasn’t alone. After that, Skyview quickly showed its potential.
            “Zach was a kid who didn’t know what his role was, but he stuck with it,” said coach David Young. “This year, he owned it and had a great year. He exceeded all expectations.”
            He had some help, but Treinen can safely say he led Skyview to the lead title.
            “I felt we were very successful,” he said. “We proved everyone else wrong and were a forced to be reckoned with. Columbia came into the whole thing favored. They were the ones talking the most had a lot of publicity.
            “I learned a lot from Hunter. I told myself I had to be just as good or better. No slips.”
            Treinen stayed injury-free. In fact, he said he wasn’t sacked until the fifth game (Caldwell). He threw for 1,925 yards and completed 56 percent of his passes. He had 25 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
            Despite those great statistics, he received only honorable mention all-SIC. Like several other
Skyview players, he fell under most coaches’ radars. His coaches recognized, him, though. At the post-season banquet, he joined Walker Ray in receiving the prestigious HAWK award. He also accepted a partial football scholarship to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore.
            “My best game was against Emmett,” Treinen recalled. “We were unstoppable. I had five touchdowns (passes) in the first half. Emmett was undefeated in conference, too, and everyone was following them. We took it as a slap in the face. We knew we were better and shot them down.”
            Treinen was remembered more fondly, however, for his ability to step up. Against Middleton, the Hawks trailed 17-0 until Treinen led the team to three fourth-quarter touchdowns and a huge victory. Treinen said the play he’ll remember most was when he sidestepped a defender and fired an 8-yard pass to junior Lane Robbins for Skyview’s first score.
            “We couldn’t waste time. We picked up the pace,” he said. “It (the pass) got the crowd back into it and we surged from there.”
            As the team celebrated the homecoming victory, Treinen was interviewed by the Idaho Press-Tribune.
            I won’t realize it until I wake up in the morning,” Treinen said. “Even though the score was 17-0, our defense was still stopping them. I knew I had to step it up and change my game.”
            The next week at Columbia, he changed it again. Skyview was locked in a defensive battle and the winner of the game was determined by who made the fewest mistakes.
            “We had high standards here,” Treinen said. “I couldn’t show that I was nervous. I had to hold it in and play. I had a lot of help.”
            Treinen’s help came in the form of Tanner Robison, who rushed for almost 1,500 yards and the team – as a whole – averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Treinen said he also had great receivers in Robbins, Walker Ray, Kacy Bonds, Robert Gold, Tanner Ashworth and more.
            “Lane was my go-to guy,” he said. “He was the guy I could count on. He has so much potential. I have high expectations for him next year and I told him that.”
            Skyview will have to find a guy to throw him the ball, and junior Anthony Marin is the heir-apparent. He’ll have to follow Treinen’s footsteps and work hard during the summer, be a leader through camp and raise his game when necessary.
            Hyde and Treinen proved it can be done. At Skyview, it’s part of what is expected.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Skyview football: Ryan Rambo profile

In late April, I interviewed Skyline (Idaho) noseguard Ryan Rambo. We talked about the 2011 season and his athletic career in general. This is the article that will appear in the Skyview football yearbook.

Ryan Rambo:

His improvement helped the defense
spark Hawks to become a 4A power

By Bruce Smith
            Ryan Rambo started the 2011 football season as an undersized defensive lineman. By the end of the  year, he and Kody Odom were named the team’s top defensive players and Rambo was Skyview’s only all-state selection.
            In-between, there was a lot of growth, but he never grew bigger than his 6-foot, 235-pound frame.
            “I wasn’t the biggest guy,” he said. “I dealt with guys bigger than me, but I used my speed.”
            Rambo’s success started his junior year. As a senior, he was part of Skyview’s athletic defensive line. He said the Hawks’ front seven this year was the team’s strength. As the noseguard, Rambo anchored the line, but had plenty of help.
            “It was a great year. The games were the best,” he said. “Going out Friday night, the (stadium) atmosphere was great. We were all hyped up and ready to play.”
            Rambo said his best successes started against Mountain Home. He had been saddled with a wrist injury and did not believe he had played to his potential. He was also told by the Hawks’ coaches that Mountain Home’s offense would provide a major threat.
            “We were making all the tackles in the backfield,” Rambo said, smiling. Our linebackers went to (assistant) coach (Josh) Bravo and asked him to hold us back back.
            “On the very first play, I almost got a sack but he (Mountain Home QB Jake Hennessey) got it off just before I hit him. He knew I was there the rest of the game, though. I hit him pretty good.”
            Rambo finished the year as one of the team’s top tacklers, and recorded 1.5 sacks. He said he was double-teamed in most games, which helped free teammates. He said it was pleasure playing with fellow lineman Cameron Cochems, who improved dramatically during the year and helped Skyview’s defense improve.
            “We could stop the run really easily,” he said. “At the end of the year, we were tight and good.”
            Skyview finished 7-3 and lost to Blackfoot in the first round of the 4A playoffs. Despite the early departure, many Hawks felt they may have been the second-best 4A team. Late in the year, they won three straight close games against SIC contenders, which set them apart.
            “Playing those close games was a great experience,” Rambo said. “We always had a full stadium and everyone was excited.”
            Afterward, Rambo joined his teammates in a Skyview tradition of singing the school fight song to the fans.
            “The coaches wanted us to get the student body involved, so we would sing with them,” he said. “We all knew the song and, whenever we won, we would run to the crowd and start singing.”
            Rambo appreciated it most after Skyview’s 7-0 win over rival Columbia. He had been injured (again) and didn’t play the week before vs. Middleton. Against the Wildcats, the defense gave up just 186 yards and forced four turnovers.
"After watching the film, I am even more impressed with the defense," said coach David Young. "That was the most solid, most collective effort of the season."
            “That was a big game because I played football with a lot of them (the Wildcats) in Optimist league,” Rambo said. “The high point our year was beating them because they were supposed to be the ‘chosen one’ since we were freshmen. This year, when it came down to it, we had the most heart and we beat them.
                I played with the center on their team (Hayden Paul) since third grade. I’ll never forget at the end of the game, he told me how good and fast I was.”
            Like the rest of the Hawks, Rambo was disappointed at how the season ended. He said Skyview didn’t play to its potential in its 28-27 win over Bishop Kelly that secured the SIC title and then suffered a letdown in the first half against eventual state champion Blackfoot.
            “They just overpowered us, but in the second half, we were all clicking,” he said. “If we hadn’t had that first half, we might have won that game.”
            After football, Rambo played against 5A opponents in an all-star game at Eagle High School and also earned a $500 athletic/academic scholarship. In the spring, he competed in the shot put and discus with the Skyview track team. He said he would likely attend Boise State in the fall, but was also considering Idaho State and possibly trying out for football.

Skyview football: Tanner Robison profile

In late April, I interviewed Skyview (Idaho) running back Tanner Robison, who had a great season and played an integral part in the Hawks' success. Here is the article that will appear in his team's football yearbook.

Tanner Robison:

Hawks’ powerful back had big games
and came through when needed

 By Bruce Smith

            Tanner Robison’s senior season on the Skyview football team started slowly. However, he was proud when he put the finishing touch on it.
            Robison, the Hawks’ 6-foot, 195-pound senior running back, was on the sidelines in the opener at Fruitland. He suffered a separated shoulder as a freshmen, and it never really went away. He hurt it again during the jamboree a week before.
            The team doctor, his coaches (and his mother) felt that he should sit out. Even though the Hawks lost that game, it was probably a good idea.
             “I wish I was known for my speed, but I was a power back,” he said. “If I had a chance to run by or run over somebody, I’d probably try to run them over.”
            For the rest of the season, he made history.
            Robison finished with 1,493 yards (an average of over 160 per game). Combined with a fine junior season, might have been Skyview’s leading career rusher if not for the legendary Matt Kaiserman, who played a few years prior.
            Robison made the all-SIC team both years. As a senior, he had over 100 yards in every game except the finale, and even surpassed 200 four times. His 261-yard effort at Emmett helped the Hawks set a school total-offense record.
            “It was a good season; a lot better than I expected,” Robison said. “Everyone else had low expectations for us but, as a team, we had high expectations for ourselves. Each time we went to a game, it was a big game. It was an emotional roller coaster.”
             The roller coaster occurred during the last four weeks. After a tough 35-28 loss at Nampa, the Hawks had to defeat Middleton, Columbia and Bishop Kelly to win the 4A SIC title and then take on eventual champion Blackfoot in the playoffs.
            Robison played huge roles in those games, but he remembers Bishop Kelly the most.
            “They didn’t have anything to play for, but we had the conference championship,” he said. “They were playing dirty. Their linebacker kept putting his hands in my face, so I broke loose and scored on a 15-yard run and I high-stepped into the end zone and he was complaining to the ref(eree). I thought it was funny because after being so dirty, he was the one complaining.”
            Robison carried the ball 34 times for 206 yards in that game. He also had his longest run of the season, a 40-yarder earlier in the game for a score.
            “I went up the middle and got outside,” he recalled. “Everyone was blocking for me and I went up the sidelines. That was one of the runs I actually felt fast.”
            His only other real memory of being fast was the season, in general. Robison also played baseball for Skyview, but football was his primary sport. It started during the summer and lasted until almost Thanksgiving. He appreciated the friendships he made, especially with Zach Treinen and Ryan Rambo, who he had played together starting in Optimist League.
            There was weightlifting almost every day, and the team went to a camp at the College of Southern Idaho in June. The highlight of the preseason, however, was Skyview’s team camp, which started two-a-day practices in August.
            The camp was an overnight session and created a “tent city” outside the stadium.
            “The camp was tiring, and there were lots of emotions,” Robison said. “We didn’t get to bed until late and had to get up early, but it helped us come together as a team.”
            It also featured a talent show. The players were split up into groups and asked to create a skit that, for many of the players, ended up being one of the best memories of the season.
            “It was fun,” he said. “A lot of us weren’t that talented. It ended up being a lot of comedy acts. Our group wrote a rap (song) and we had a lineman (Hunter Montgomery) do a dance. The coaches thought it was inappropriate, but the players thought it was funny.
            “The coaches did a skit and made fun of the seniors. It was also funny.”
            It was the start of many laughs, most which took place as a way for the team to let off steam, especially after those games where the outcome wasn’t decided until the clock struck zero.
            Robison hoped those games would prepare him for the future, which likely will include an LDS Church mission and perhaps a chance to play college football. He said he impressed at least one school (Snow, a junior college in Ephraim, Utah) and visited there after the season.
            “I have good grades and they asked me to try out as a walk-on,” he said. “But playing again will have to wait until after my mission.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mtn. View football: Cam Matosich profile

In mid-April, I interviewed Mountain View (Idaho) wide receiver Cam Matosich. An early season injury ruined his chances of being a star on the football and even the basketball teams. Still, he persevered. Here is the article that appears in the Mountain View football yearbook.

Cameron Matosich:

He didn't let injury-riddled senior year
stop him from playing a big role

By Bruce Smith

             Cameron Matosich’s senior year wasn’t what he expected.
            The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder had plans to contribute greatly to Mountain View’s football and basketball teams.
            In football, he was to be one of the Mavericks’ primary receivers. In basketball, he would have played guard for the defending 5A state champions that had several important players returning.
            That all ended early in the football. Early – as in the first quarter of the first game.
            “It was a reverse,” Matosich recalled. “I got a handoff and got outside. I tried to get by a cornerback. I made a move and felt a pop in my knee. Just like that, I tore my ACL.
            “It was terrible,” he added. “It’s weird because I’ve done that same thing hundreds of time. Then, that one time, something went wrong and it popped. No fun.”
            Ironically, Matosich kept going and was credited with an 8-yard gain before going out of bounds. Trouble was, he didn’t get up.
            “I felt it pop right around the hashmark and I kept hobbling along. I went down on the track,” he said. “The trainers all came over. I couldn’t describe to them what happened. It was such a loud pop and it hurt so bad. They brought me over to the table and they told me they thought it was ACL. That was pretty much it.”
            Matosich, however, didn’t let it end his career. In fact, how he handled the injury got rave reviews from coach Judd Benedick, as well as basketball coach Jon Nettleton.
            “I was a team captain,” Matosich said. “Coach Benedick made me feel like he really cared about me and stayed close the whole time. He made me want to fulfill my duties and still lead the team.”
            Matosich attended football practices and every game. He even joined the team on the bus to Coeur d’Alene. He viewed himself as a player-coach. He didn’t have surgery until four weeks later. By that time, he felt a lot better. The crutches disappeared.
            “It felt fine to walk on it and I could even jog, but there was no support when it came to cutting.”
            He wore his uniform – No. 2 – to each game. In Mountain View’s homecoming contest against Borah, he led the team onto the field. He also relished getting onto the field for one more play.
            “I was the holder on the team and he (Benedick) let me go into hold (on an extra-point attempt),” he said. “That was pretty memorable.”
            Despite not being able to fulfill his athletic dreams this year, Matosich learned to appreciate his new status and he still felt like he contributed. He offered advice whenever possible. He noted that speedy wide receiver Chase Hafer stepped up his game until he suffered an injury at midseason. Then sophomore Josh Buss showed his skills.
            “Our best game was definitely the Eagle game,” Matosich said. “Everything was clicking for us and our offense was making big plays, especially Josh Buss. He’s something else … pretty darn athletic.”
            It also made him appreciate his junior year, when he was injury-free.
            That year, Matosich was Mountain View’s leading receiver, catching 28 passes for 301 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown in the season opener at Lake City. Later, he led the JV basketball team in minutes played as they finished with a 21-2 record, and he went on to play with the basketball team during the summer.
            Nettleton also invited him to practices, and to sit on the bench during the basketball season. Near the end, he felt good enough to join the team in pre-game warm-ups, although he still was unable to play.
            “He (Nettleton) liked me there as a player-coach type of thing,” Matosich said.
            When school ended, Matosich was contemplating trying to continue his athletic career. He and teammate Nate Moore received at least partial scholarships from Carroll College in Helana, Mont. Matosich was also considering Idaho.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mtn. View football: Daniel Lau profile

In mid-April, I interviewed Mountain View (Idaho) running back Daniel Lau and we talked about the Mavericks' 2011 football season. Here is the article that will appear in this year's football yearbook.

Daniel Lau

His effort in Mavericks' win over Eagle
led a season full of great memories

By Bruce Smith

            Daniel Lau had no trouble recalling the best memory of his high school athletic career.
            It was Mountain View’s final game of the regular season – at Eagle. Lau topped his 157-yard rushing night with two touchdowns, including a 50-yard scamper that gave the Mavericks some breathing room in their 37-16 victory.
            “It’s always good to beat Eagle,” he said. “They were unbeaten. That whole week our whole team was getting pumped. We knew we had the talent. We came out with a different attitude and brought it to them.”
            That long touchdown run was one of the big plays of the season. Lau remembered it well.
            “We were in a run package,” he said. “We had a motion guy go across the opposite way we were running, and ran a counter-left. I saw a big hole made by my O-line. I saw the safety and gave him a little shake and I was gone.”
            When he finished, he was immediately surrounded by his teammates, then he and his best friend, Logan Deroin, continued their tradition by exchanging high fives and hugs.
            “We did that every time I scored,” Lau said.
            Lau was Mountain View’s leading rusher. He rambled for 857 yards and crossed the goal line nine times. He started the season slowly, but had big games against Borah, Boise and then the 157-yard effort against Eagle.
            Afterward, it led to a celebration at Rudy’s, the restaurant across the street from Mountain View.
                “There were always bunch of parents at Rudy’s after the games,” Lau said. “Whenever a player would walk in, everybody would start applauding.”
                A first-round loss to Coeur d’Alene in the 5A state playoffs – or the Mavericks loss to Rocky Mountain on “Senior Night” couldn’t put a damper on all the good memories.
                “I thought it was a pretty good season,” he said. “Our record shows we did well. We beat Eagle and that was a big step, and we had never beaten Eagle or Centennial.”
            The Rocky loss might have actually been a blessing. The Mavericks came out to practice and seemed more focused than before. Lau said everyone was “clued in” and none of the players were goofing around.
            “Everyone just wanted to win,” he said.
            Thanks to Lau and Mountain View’s often-dominating offensive line, the Mavericks did win. Lau and quarterback Kai Turner combined for over 1,500 yards. Their ability to move the chains also helped Turner become more conservative with his throws. He tossed 11 touchdowns, and had just one interception all season.
            At the team’s post-season banquet, Lau was honored for his offensive production. His ability to use his 5-foot-11, 200-pound stature to not only run over tacklers, but run by them was a big advantage.
            “During the offseason, I mainly worked on lifting weights and getting bigger, faster and stronger,” he said. “I also worked a lot on footwork.
            “I’ll never be like Chase Hafer (the team’s fastest player), but there were several times when it was noticeable.”
            When the season ended, Lau placed his uniform (No. 24) on his bedroom wall beside his brother, Jake’s No. 62. He joined the track team and was competing in the sprints (100 meters, 400-meter relay) and the long jump.
            After graduation, he hoped to attend the College of Western Idaho and then move on to a four-year school and earn a radiology degree.
            “My mom works in a hospital,” he said. “She has a friend who is a radiologist and I got interested watching him.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Orem basketball: Greg Sheide profile

Greg Sheide:
Long-time Orem coach appreciated
being part of what team accomplished

By Bruce Smith
            Greg Sheide has taught and coached at Orem High School for 33 years.
            He did his student teaching at Orem in 1979 and has never left. In most years, he helped coach as many as three different sports. He recalled fondly being an assistant football coach in 1987, when Orem won the 4A state title, and then lost to Alta in the title game the following year.
            But that was the only memorable celebration Sheide could recall, and he took the time to relish what this year’s basketball team accomplished on March 3.
            “It was good for me, but mostly it’s for the kids and a lot of the fans,” he said.
            Sheide was on the bench when the final buzzer sounded. He said he recalled embracing fellow assistant coach Kevin Nixon and head coach Golden Holt immediately afterward.
            “Then I went under one of the baskets by myself and watched,” he said. “The game was over and I just watched the kids that were out in the middle of the floor.
            “The locker room was great,” he added. “It was upbeat. It wasn’t a wild celebration, but it was great to realize that we actually did it.
            “We had six buses of kids, and we drove back to town (from the Maverik Center in West Valley City). There were a couple of police cars and lots of horns honking. I had a bad headache from all the noise. It was pretty hectic, and then there was a mad celebration in the (school) lounge.”
            The celebration really didn’t end – even a month or so later.
            The 60 year-old Sheide doesn’t have a cell phone, so there were no text messages. However,
th school seemed to have increased energy in the following weeks and many former players have called to congratulate him for Orem’s success.
            “I was at Subway (restaurant) the other day and a kid came up to me and gave me a hug,” he said. “That made my day.”
            Virtually every Orem player admitted Sheide played a big role in Orem’s championship. He coached the defense, which gave up 50.6 points per game during the season but only 42.0 ppg in the 4A state tournament. Sheide noted the team’s increased energy that led to its first-ever boys basketball state title.
            “We’ve been in the championship game a lot of times and we’ve been in the semifinals,” he said. “When you get that far, it feels like a successful season. This year, I knew we would be good. Once we got there (to the Final Four), I thought this was something special.
            “Every day was fun at practice, and I miss that part of it already. We worked hard on defense and the kids really bought into it. We won every close game and that shows a lot. If you play good defense, you’ll always have a chance.”
            Sheide plans to be along for the ride next season, when Orem returns the bulk of its roster and goes for a repeat. He figures it will be difficult, and the player’s work ethic will be tested.
            “I might retire from teaching, but I’ll stick with basketball as long as they want me,” he said. “

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Orem basketball: Kevin Nixon's memories

In mid-April, I interviewed Orem (Utah) assistant boys basketball coach Kevin Nixon and he told me about his best memories of the team's championship season. Here is a copy of the article that will appear in the Orem basketball yearbook.


His relationship with his son, Dalton,
made huge strides with Orem’s success

By Bruce Smith

Kevin Nixon has had a lot of memorable moments in his basketball career. The half-court shot he made in BYU’s 73-72 win over Texas El-Paso in 1992 is probably the most famous.

However, the 2011-12 Orem High School basketball season created several more – mostly because of how it resulted in an increased bond between him and his 15 year-old son, Dalton.

“It was a special time for he and I to spend together every single day,” Nixon said. “Not too many parents have that opportunity. I could watch him grow as a person and a player. That was rewarding for me and something I’ll never forget.”

Dalton may not understand that value until he has children of his own. He is the oldest child of Kevin and Stephanie and there are two more athletic girls – Bailey (13) and Sadie (11) – behind him.

Kevin admitted he didn’t have much interest in coaching at first, but became an assistant at Orem two years ago. Shortly after he met Golden Holt for the first time at a basketball workout for Holt’s son, Cooper, and Dalton, a job change moved him to Utah County and Holt asked to be part of his plan to resurrect the boys basketball program.

It worked out well that Dalton was blossoming as a basketball player, much like his 6-foot-9 father did in high school at Council Bluffs, Iowa, and later at BYU.

Those memories are still alive for Kevin, but are not nearly as vivid as what happened this year.

“The first most-memorable moment this year had to be the Lone Peak win, just because it was one of those games you want to play, but deep down you weren’t sure you could win” Nixon said. “The guys learned how to win a big game with a huge crowd.

“The next-best memory was just winning every single game in region. “I knew it would be really hard to go 14-0 in a very good region. Obviously, the Mountain View game was huge. We didn’t play well, but found a way to win. It was a special night because it was for breast cancer awareness.”

Those events have helped the Nixon’s relationship, but pale in comparison to what happened at the end and father and son were able to join the hordes of Orem fans, administration, coaches and players in the on-court celebration after the Tigers defeated Olympus 58-50 for the state title.

“I was definitely out on the court celebrating,” Nixon recalled. “ It was great that I was able to hug my son. It’s something we had talked about since he was a little boy. To be able to embrace after a state championship is a special thing.”

The Nixon’s story attracted local media attention this year, and it likely will only get better as the two try to keep Orem’s success going. The only question might be where it will ever supercede Nixon’s game-winning shot against UTEP.

Orem basketball: Jago De Piano profile

In mid-April, I interviewed Jago De Piano, and Orem basketball player and we talked about how much the team's 4A championship meant to him. Here is the article that will appear in the team's yearbook.

Jago De Piano:

On a team loaded with talent, he kept
the Tigers focused on its primary goal

By Bruce Smith

Jago De Piano’s best memories of the Orem boys basketball season isn’t that of being a player. More importantly, he was a fan.

Prior to the season, he firmly believed in the potential of the Tigers and stuck with his plan to be part of the team. Coach Golden Holt said later that De Piano’s efforts was a constant reminder that the team’s goal was a state championship.

“The season was great,” said De Piano, a 5-foot-9, 150-pound guard. “Coach looked at me as a leader. I’m not as talented as the other players. I was more of a cheerleader on the team. I showed up at practice, played my hardest and tried to make everyone play their hardest.”

De Piano got into 10 games, mostly late when the outcome had been decided. He and the other five seniors started in Orem’s “Senior Night” game against Timpanogos, and he was on the court when the final buzzer sounded ending the Tigers’ 58-50 victory over Olympus in the 4A state championship game.

For De Piano, the experiences he gained during the season was well worth his efforts.

“The season was great,” he said. “I was in it for the long run. I knew we could win a state championship and tried to stay committed. I wanted to do anything to get that ring. (Not playing much) bugged me once in a while, but I did it for the benefit of the team.”

De Piano played soccer at Orem, but it was the basketball experience he’ll remember the most. He appreciated the team chemistry that was created and recognized its importance, even on a team with so much talent.

“It was amazing how are coaches were able to get a group of guys to connect with each other,” he said. “The chemistry was fantastic. With me being a senior, that was the way to go out.”

De Piano said his favorite memory was the feeling he had after Orem won state. One of the best photos taken of any Orem player this season was of De Piano celebrating immediately after the Tigers won the title game.

“I just felt success,” he recalled. “All the hard work paid off … finally. The toll that we had getting different coaches every year. We finally had one that stayed committed to us. It was great to go out with a bang.”

De Piano’s other highlights included the the exuberance he felt in Orem’s gym when the Tigers defeated Lone Peak in the Great Western Shootout, and he appreciated being able to share this season’s experiences with his brother, Tomas, who played on the sophomore team.

After graduation, De Piano plans to enroll at the University of Utah and major in civil engineering, but he said he will continue to follow Orem basketball and cheer on the Tigers.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lehi basketball: 2011-12 season recap

In early April, I interviewed Lehi (Utah) boys basketball coach Craig Gladwell, who announced his retirement at the end of the season. This is the season recap article that will appear in the Lehi basketball yearbook.

Lehi relishes the message of the Gladwell era

By Bruce Smith

In the years to come, Lehi’s 11-10 overall record in the 2011-12 season may not be viewed as a success because the Pioneers didn’t make the 5A state tournament.

But coach Craig Gladwell, and several players, didn’t see it that way.

When the Pioneers dropped their last game of the season at Riverton – where a win would have got them into the tournament – there was sadness and even a few tears.

But it wasn’t so much due to the loss.

It was Gladwell’s last game. He had revealed his decision to his players earlier, and they recognized what it meant. After an amazing 42 seasons affecting thousands of athletes in Idaho and Utah, the 65 year-old coach ended his career and nobody was letting a loss change that.

“I still felt like I went out on top, even if we didn’t make it to the tournament,” said Gladwell. “It was a good group of seniors. We didn’t have much size, but the kids fought hard. We played in a very tough region, and it was a big adjustment.”

The year prior, Lehi was a 4A school and rode the talents of Colton Colledge to the semifinals at the state tournament. Colledge returned and had a great senior season. He averaging 16.9 points per game and 7.4 rebounds and made the all-state team, but the parameters were different.

The Pioneers were moved up to 5A – due to their increased enrollment – and placed in the state’s most difficult region. Lone Peak and American Fork tied for first place and had elite teams. In fact, Gladwell and a few other coaches noted that Bingham, Riverton and Lehi probably could have challenged for the region crown in any of the other 5A regions.

“We were 8-3 in the preseason,” Gladwell recalled. “We knew our region would be tough. I felt our aggressive wasn’t as strong as we went through the region. We had to play at our best every game to have a chance.”

Lehi played particularly well at home, compiling a 7-4 record in front of their raucous fans. One night even featured an appearance by the “Bear,” the entertaining mascot of the Utah Jazz. Later, the fans were disappointed at a 53-52 loss to rival Westlake, but the Pioneers came back to give American Fork one of its toughest games of the season before losing 62-58.

Gladwell said the team played one of its best games of the season when it rode the scoring of Colledge, Blake Cleveringa and Ryan Christofferson in a 69-44 victory over Riverton.

The home season ended with another impressive victory – 76-51 against Pleasant Grove.

“We had the most fun that night,” Gladwell noted. “It was a full house and the atmosphere was crazy. It was my last home game and my wife made the announcement (of his impending retirement).

“The kids celebrated like we had won the state championship.”

Big crowds were common at Lehi, and it was that way during many of Gladwell’s 10 years here. At first, the Pioneers were a 3A school and challenged for the state title. Since that time, Lehi has moved several times to different classifications and Gladwell noted that it took time to establish an identity.

With the area’s growth, and another new high school already being planned, that dilemma will be placed in another coach’s hand – Bob Barnes – who had been Gladwell’s assistant.

Lehi will lose five seniors, including Colledge, but its basketball tradition should live on with what Gladwell accomplished.

“Our strength was always our team unity,” he said. “Other teams would often double-team him (Colledge) a lot, but we would try not to rely on him too much.”

Pleasant Grove basketball: Season recap

In early April, I interviewed Pleasant Grove (Utah) boys basketball coach Randy McAllister, as well as several of his players, regarding the 2011-12 season. Here is the season recap article that will appear in the team's yearbook.

Tough year doesn’t dampen Vikings’ spirit

By Bruce Smith

The Pleasant Grove Vikings had high hopes entering the 2011-12 boys basketball season.

How high? How about 7 feet. That was the height of their center, Alan Hamson, who was easily the tallest high-school player in the state. The Vikings planned to ride his size and increased athletic ability to as much success as possible.

Unfortunately, Pleasant Grove was low on player experience and plagued by being in the state’s most-difficult region. Compared to previous seasons, Hamson had a breakout year, but the Vikings were plagued by turnover issues and never became the threat coach Randy McAllister had hoped.

Pleasant Grove finished with a 4-17 record and wondered what might have been.
“We had a lot of new guys on the varsity, and it took us a while to adapt,” said McAllister. “By the time we got into region, we were a lot better. Our turnovers were down, but our opponents got a lot better, too.”

Lone Peak and American Fork tied for the Region 4 title, and Lone Peak eventually won its second straight 5A title.

“Our schedule was a ‘Murderers Row,’ “ said McAllister, using a baseball term. “I’ll bet any one of five teams in our region could have won … say … Region 2.”

Pleasant Grove was 1-9 in region, beating Bingham 47-43 in front of the home fans, thanks to big games from Hamson, Nathan Sampson and Spencer Pincock. That victory, and the crowd’s reaction, was one of the best memories of the year.

Hamson and junior guard Jake Robley keyed the effort by making several pressure-filled free throws in the fourth quarter.

“After that game, our hopes were up and our fans were excited,” McAllister said.

Turns out that was the last time Pleasant Grove would taste victory. The Vikings dropped their last nine games. However, McAllister noted that the team’s enthusiasm never waned, and that’s what helped make the season a success in his mind.

“The kids always thought that the next game would be the start of a winning streak,” he said.

Truth be told, Pleasant Grove wasn’t expected to fare well this year. The Vikings were picked sixth (last) in the preseason polls. The Vikings had Hamson, a shot-blocking phenom, but little else, the articles read. McAllister said he liked being underestimated and figured it would pay off in certain games.

In the opener, Pleasant Grove took eventual 4A champion Orem to the final buzzer at the Great Zuke Challenge. In the second game, Mike Anderson led a fourth-quarter rally with a pair of three-pointers to force overtime at Payson, but the Lions eventually won. Payson, now a 3A school, finished 18-6 on the year.

The Vikings eventually dropped their first four before Anderson and Spencer Pincock played one of their best games of the season in a 64-59 victory at Jordan. Two nights later, Hamson had 21 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in a win over Westlake.

“Those were great wins for us and, certainly, we had a lot of highlights,” said McAllister. “At times, we really played well together and it was great to see the kids win some games.”

The season also included a Christmas break trip to Palm Springs, Calif., which McAllister used as a team-bonding experience. The team enjoyed the sunshine and warmer weather and Hamson attracted a lot of attention with some big games.

“Other teams learned quickly they couldn’t drive the lane on him,” said Pincock. “They wanted nothing to do with him.”

Hamson was Pleasant Grove’s top scorer, averaging 10.7 points per game. Not surprisingly, he led the team in rebounds (7.9/game) and had an amazing 123 blocks (5.9/game). He graduated as the school’s leader in that category and his career numbers were the third-highest in Utah history.

Brothers Spencer and Forrest Pincock provided a lot of help on the perimeter and both seemed to have an uncanny ability to know what the other was thinking, often making crisp passes to the other in crucial situations.

Forward Nate Sampson, a dominating player on the football team, also was a big factor.

In the future, the team likely won’t promote its season record, but will appreciate the friendships made and the occasional big play that excited the crowd and gave coach McAllister an idea of what could be.

Mtn. View football: 2011 season recap

A while back, Mountain View (Idaho) football coach Judd Benedick was interviewed and talked about the 2011 season. This is the article that will appear in the Mavericks' 2011 yearbook.

Mavs’ fine year ends too quickly

By Bruce Smith

The most obvious thing that can be said about Mountain View’s 2011 football season is that it ended too early. With a few breaks, things might have been a lot different.

The Mavericks compiled a 7-3 record and were among the top teams in the 5A SIC. Coach Judd Benedick’s squad rebounded nicely from a disappointing 4-5 mark the previous year. Helped by a returning quarterback (sophomore Kai Turner) and a lot less injuries, Mountain View finished tied for second place in league and was the only team to defeat SIC champ Eagle.

“This was our favorite team in five years and, in large part, it had to do with this senior class,” said Benedick. “After last year, we challenged them. They were dedicated and worked hard, and it was not just the weightlifting, but the attitude and approach.”

The Mavericks did it primarily with defense. Led by guys like Austin Brown, Nate Moore, Anthony Lyngar, Lane Chadwick and Dominic Howard, Mountain View tied a school record by limiting opponents to just 16.7 points per game. That kept them in every contest and, in most cases, that was enough.

“We had a fantastic year with one hiccup,” said Benedick. “If we'd have beaten Rocky Mountain, we'd have been a No. 1 seed and it would have made a huge difference."

That 24-17 loss dropped Mountain View to the third spot, and the Mavericks had to bus 400 miles to open the 5A state playoffs at Coeur d’Alene. The Vikings were the defending champion and on their way to a second straight title. Their toughest postseason match, however, was a 27-14 decision over Mountain View.

The outcome didn’t sit well with the Mavericks, who rallied back from the Rocky loss to whip rival Centennial and then pound Eagle, 36-17. They thought that win was the precursor to what might have been the school’s first state title.

“(Against Eagle) our kids performed wonderfully,” said Benedick. “We felt ready to go and the kids executed … and then some. We were really physical and flew around out there.

“No disrespect to Eagle, they’re a fantastic team and could have won it all, but we might have peaked a week too early.”

Even after the long bus ride, the Mavs took a 7-0 lead and seemingly had a 14-0 advantage when Turner ran 81 yards for a touchdown. The play was negated by a questionable holding penalty. Coeur d’Alene took advantage of the momentum swing, and its home field, to eventually win.

“That trip left us with a bad taste,” said Benedick. “The people and the fans up there definitely let us know we were from the south and weren’t very classy. Still, we didn’t make enough plays.”

Overall, however, there were plenty of plays.

Turner, who moved into the starting role as a freshman, made remarkable improvement this year. He threw for almost 1,300 yards. Even more impressive was his 11 touchdown passes and just one interception.

Daniel Lau rushed for 857 yards and Turner added 649.

The offense was able to control the line of scrimmage in most games, and hold on to possession. Going into the Rocky game, Mountain View had won five of six games and most were in convincing fashion.

When it ended so quickly in the playoff’s first round, it felt frustrating. After he had time to reflect, Benedick had this answer:

“What it comes down to in the end is: Do you make them couple of big plays? Do you do the little, tiny things that separate you from being an exceptionally good or great team?

“The team that wins or almost wins the conference, there are really small differences. The kids understand you're not going to dominate every game or run away from people every game. But you have to make some breaks ... that's the difference."

Opponents clearly recognized Mountain View had the league’s best defense. The Mavs put four players on the all-SIC team and Lyngar was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year.

In addition, Mountain View had fewer injury problems, no turnover issues and its special teams fared well. Few people questioned Coeur d’Alene’s status as the state’s top team. After that, it was too close to call.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Orem basketball: Christian Clark profile

On April 15, I interviewed Christian Clark, who played on the Orem (Utah) High School boys basketball team. He was one of the pivotal players on the squad that won the 4A state title. Here is the article that will appear in this year's Orem boys basketball yearbook.


He had speed, size and the respect
of his family for winning a state title

By Bruce Smith

Christian Clark has a family full of Tigers. His mother, Jill, for instance, is an Orem High graduate and so are a slew of aunts, uncles and cousins.
For years, they had noted that Orem had never won a boys basketball state title.
This year, one of their own came to the rescue.

It meant a lot to Clark to see the school end that 56-year drought. He contributed mightily to the effort and – after the championship game – held the UHSAA trophy tightly. Later, he was among six or seven busloads of players and fans that returned to Orem High School from the Maverik Center. That trip itself was one of his greatest memories.

“We drove through the city streets on the bus, and (the police) turned on their sirens,” he said. “Cars were honking at us. It was great. It must have taken us 15 minutes to get through Orem because it was so slow. We were savoring every moment.”

You can bet the Clark family was, too.

Listed at 6-foot-7, Christian initially stood out for being one of the tallest players on Orem’s team, but he was also among the most athletic. In fact, if not for what happened on the basketball court this year, he might have been remembered more for his soccer ability. Clark played on Orem’s boys soccer team and was also one of its top players.

In basketball, however, he had a different role. He was one of the first players off the bench. He averaged 4.5 points per game and 2.1 rebounds. He used his speed to get steals and was often one of the first players down court on a fast break.

With those tools, and his size, it gave him several opportunities to dunk. Those dunks, especially one against Woods Cross in the 4A state tournament, usually resulted in momentum swings and made him a fan favorite.

“I didn’t make a lot of big plays; I was mostly a team player,” Clark said. “We had a deep team that was really talented. We learned to play together and win, even with a target on our chest.”

Clark saw action in a few varsity games as a sophomore, but earned a lot of playing time during his junior and senior seasons. He said he saw a big difference in Orem basketball as soon as Golden Holt became head coach.

“He was a difference-maker,” Clark said. “We had some good talent, but it was his coaching ability that propelled us to where we needed to be.

“I met him at some meetings and he seemed like a good guy. A lot of coaches try to use scare tactics and are aggressive. He’s not as aggressive as a coach. He’s one of those coaches you’re not scared to play for. He doesn’t use punishments. He used rewards. He has a coaching knack.”

Clark wasn’t certain Orem basketball would be so successful last year, when the Tigers finished with a 7-15 mark. However, he continued to buy into Holt’s plan. He played in many of the team’s 60 summer games and, after a short break, noted that things really began to click in the fall.

“When we got back together, we started to see things differently,” he said. “We knew we could be really good. Even through region, we had some close games, but I never felt like we were going to lose.”

Clark said his favorite highlights of the season included beating rival Mountain View twice. He said games against the Bruins, as well as Orem’s contests in the Great Western Shootout were exciting because of the huge fan support it drew.

“We had such a fun environment to play in,” he said. “I remember going to games as a kid and they were so exciting. It was fun to be part of it.

“There was also a huge increase in school spirit. When we started winning, the other kids got a lot more interested. They didn’t treat me any different, but it was a fun thing for everyone there.”

Another highlight was “Senior Night,” when he and Orem’s four other seniors were placed in the starting lineup. Fittingly, at the end of the season, when the Tigers were holding on to an eight-point lead over Olympus in the 4A championship game, those same seniors were on the court together again.

When the season ended, Clark joined the Orem soccer team. After graduation, he said he wanted to attend BYU and then go on an LDS Church mission.

Orem basketball: Josh Pollard profile

In early April, I interviewed Orem (Utah) senior Josh Pollard, who played a major role in the Tigers' state championship run this season. Here is the article that will appear in the team's post-season yearbook.


His breakout senior season helped
bury bad memories of previous year

By Bruce Smith

Josh Pollard wasn’t happy at how his junior season ended.

He was in coach Golden Holt’s inaugural starting lineup, and had three 20-point games (including a 28-point effort vs. Kearns) before a thumb injury put him on the bench. When he returned three weeks later, he had to play with a cast and wasn’t the same.

“It was tough,” he recalled. “I really didn’t feel like I could do anything other than play defense.”

One year later, that season was just a far away memory.

As a senior, Pollard was one of the team captains. He played every game and was instrumental in each. He averaged 8.9 points per game and was the team’s leader in rebounds and steals.

His high-scoring game was a 21-point effort at home against Provo. As Orem rolled to a 24-1 record and its first boys basketball state championship, Pollard set a school record for most steals in a game (5.5 vs. Salem Hills). He was named Region 8’s Defensive Player of the Year and both Salt Lake newspapers made him second team all-state.

“I got stronger and quicker in the offseason. That’s what helped me; It’s what I needed,” Pollard said. “I was working out with a trainer four days a week … going for weightlifting and speed. By the end of the summer, some of the guys (teammates) starting coming with me. I had added a few inches on my vertical (leap) and it helped our team.”

In the Pollard family, basketball is king and a lot is expected. His dad (Alan) is 6-10 and is well-known locally for leading Mountain View to a state title. He also has two twin brothers (eighth grade) who are 6-5 already.

Combined with his injury-plagued junior year, that was plenty of motivation.

“Basketball is my only sport and it was great how we finished,” he said. “We had a lot of fun along the way and the championship seemed to unite the whole school.”

Orem improved as the season progressed, primarily on defense. Pollard said the team began to accept assistant coach Greg Sheide’s formula and the Tigers limited opponents to an average of 42.0 ppg at state.

Pollard said his best game was the 4A semifinals, when he scored 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in Orem’s 44-36 win over Bountiful. However, coach Golden Holt felt Pollard might have been at his best in the state final.

It came during a timeout when Olympus had narrowed Orem’s lead to four points with about five minutes left. Pollard was on the bench with four fouls and Holt let him do the talking.

“Josh has been through a lot here at Orem and took the lead as a senior to let these guys know they couldn’t let up,” Holt said. “He’s been a big leader for us all year long and he gave them a bit of a pep talk there and they responded.”
Pollard celebrated with the rest of the team, and he called the title game the highlight of the season … barely.

“Between (beating) Lone Peak and the state championship, I would probably say state … still … because it was for the championship. But Lone Peak had that kind of atmosphere. It’s the most active I’ve ever seen the (Orem) Fieldhouse. There were so many students there. They were jumping up and down and it even cracked the floor.

“I celebrated more after the Lone Peak game than at state,” he added. “At state, we kind of held on and it wasn’t traumatic. It was a cooler game to win, but it wasn’t as emotional. The Lone Peak game was really intense and it was soooo loud.”

It wiped away any bad memories of the previous year, and provided a bond between him and his teammates that won’t end. Pollard said he would like to continue playing basketball after graduation, but first he will go on an LDS Church mission.

“I had a few schools interested in me but they wanted me to come there first,” he said. “I’ll go on a mission and then see what happens.”

Orem basketball: David Runyan profile

In early April, I interviewed Orem (Utah) High School senior David Runyan, who was part of the school's first championship basketball team. Here is the article that will appear in the school's basketball yearbook, commemorating the season.

David Runyan:

The real MVP? His ability to change
made him a silent contributor to team

By Bruce Smith

All along, David Runyan had big plans for his senior year at Orem High School.

An accomplished athlete, he had a rare leaping ability that he used wherever he could. He also had a strong interest in basketball and looked to contribute.

After Orem’s 7-15 season his junior year, all the talk was about how much better 2011-12 would be and he wondered what role he would play.

“It was kind of hard to believe what coach Holt was saying,” he admitted. “We had a losing record and we lost the play-in game. But we got a few (more) kids this year and we put it all together. By the time the season started, we knew we could do it.”

The success of the team during the summer tournaments was important, but so was two key additions. Zach Hunsaker moved from Woods Cross after a stellar sophomore season there, and Quinn Peters arrived within Orem’s boundaries from Lone Peak. Both players were guards – the same as Runyan – and talented.

“At first, it really bugged me,” Runyan said. “I had worked here for three years and was looking forward to being the starting point guard. But I got to know them and they became my best friends.

“All in all, when it came down to it, we are friends. We played together and it was a team effort. Everyone had their role.”

It also led to a championship season that every player will remember forever.

Runyan got into 19 games and, although he played sparingly, got onto the floor at the Maverik Center in three of the four state tournament contests. He scored nine points but, most importantly, he felt like part of what Orem accomplished.

“The real MVPs on our team were those seniors,” said Holt. “You think they were happy to see all those guys transfer in? They figured out their roles on the team.

“It was their attitudes that helped us accomplish what we did. We couldn’t have done without that.”

Looking back, it ended up a good year for everyone.

“I really liked the guys on the team,” he said. “In years past, we’ve had good guys but we never got together like we did this year. We were all focused on one goal and that was the state championship. Nobody was affected by how much playing time they got.”

There were plenty of highlights. The shining moment, of course, was Orem’s 58-50 victory over Olympus in the 4A state championship final. Runyan played just one minute, but relished every part of it.

“It was amazing,” he recalled. “It’s a feeling you’ll never forget. There was such a rush when that (final) buzzer went off. That was really special.

“I was on the court with the other seniors. That was really cool. Everybody ran out on the court, and it was such a rush.

“The closest thing I’ve ever come to winning this was winning a championship in Little League Baseball and this was a lot better.”

Runyan said, however, that the Tigers’ 57-51 win over Lone Peak at the Great Western Shootout might have felt even better.

“We were the underdogs,” he said. “Nobody thought we would win. It was good for us to go out there and beat the best school in the state. That was a changing point. It made us realize we were that good.”

Runyan felt his best game – personally – came Feb. 21 on “Senior Night,” when the Tigers beat Timpanogos 67-62. Holt started all the seniors in that game and it was there that Runyan recalled his favorite play.

“I got the ball and ran down and scored on a fastbreak,” he said. “I knew it would be my last game at home and it felt really good. Afterward, I got high fives from friends.”

With basketball season over and the memories beginning to fade, Runyan decided to try to create a few more on the Orem track team.

Runyan played football as a freshman and sophomore, but decided to focus on basketball. When he looks back at his decision, he had no regrets.

“I played JV basketball last year and we did really well,” he said, “but nothing compares to this year’s varsity basketball. I’m a smaller guy and I was just more passionate about basketball. It’s a great sport.”

Runyan said his best friends on the team were fellow seniors Cole Payne, Josh Pollard, Christian Clark and Jago De Piano and that he considered Mountain View to be Orem’s biggest rival. He appreciated his parents – Ray and Kim – coming to his games and his six brothers and sisters. Of all the things he will miss, he included coach Greg Sheide’s defensive workouts.

“Coach Sheide would hammer us and hammer us about our defense,” he said. “The thing about Sheide is he yells at you but we all know that he cares about us and is a nice guy and that’s what carried us at state.”

About Me

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I am the author of Matchup, which provides yearbooks to high school sports teams, commemorating their seasons.