ST. GEORGE – Most of the pomp and circumstance was for mom and grandma, with the cake and punch and pizza just window dressing for what really mattered to a dozen or so young men who wore gladiator uniforms on the local gridiron the past several years. These guys were taking their games to the next level.
The headliner in the bunch, Pine View’s Thor Katoa put pen to paper, and hat to head, to symbolically pledge his allegiance to the University of Utah Wednesday afternoon. Katoa, big No. 11 for the Panthers, was a hard-hitting linebacker on the state finalist squad. He’ll likely bulk up and end up on the defensive line for coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utes, but that will come in time as Katoa plans to join the U after serving a two-year LDS Mission.
Also signing to play college ball from Pine View is Guillermo Fiero, the Panthers center, who will ply his trade at Southern Utah University.
“It’s a great day for Pine View,” Panthers coach Ray Hosner said. “I’m so proud of these guys.”
Coach Carl Franke was tickled as well, as he hosted a gathering of family members, team members and fans at Desert Hills High School to witness a couple of Thunder players put pen to paper and commit to playing college football. Brock Doman, known for his skill and his tenaciousness as a lineman, will play at Weber State in Ogden. Jake Wagner, a soft-spoken, but ferocious defensive end will play at Dixie State.
“(Doman and Wagner) worked hard to earn those scholarships,” Franke said. “Both Weber and Dixie are lucky to have them.”
Dixie High also had several talented young men looking to extend their playing careers. Drew Batchelor will join Doman at Weber State as the to southern Utah boys will head up to northern Utah and become Wildcats. Lukas Hildebrandt, an undersized, but sure-handed receiver, and Gavin Graff, Dixie’s all-region punter and hard-nosed linebacker, will also play at Dixie State.
Braden Reber, who moved into the area his senior year and helped Desert Hills win a state championship from his cornerback and wide receiver position, is expected to play at DSU as well.
Snow Canyon’s Zach Kennedy also committed to play football at Dixie State.
Most of the young men in this story have plans to serve LDS missions before beginning their college football careers.
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