ST. GEORGE — Years ago, I used to cover the Utah Jazz. They had a talented point guard by the name of John Stockton. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
Anyway, Stockton, now the all-time assists and steals lead in the history of the NBA, absolutely hated talking to the media. It was a big part of being a basketball star, but Stockton was not into it (as opposed to Karl Malone, who loved the microphone). Knowing the TV and newspaper guys had deadlines, Stockton used to linger in the training room (which was off-limits to reporters) as long as he could before getting dressed so the members of the media would clear out.
I was working for an afternoon paper at the time, so my deadline was the next morning and one time I decided to wait Stockton out. I sat patiently for 30 minutes, and then 45. The other Jazz players showered, dressed and began leaving. So, too, did the reporters. One by one, they filed out until the only people left in the locker room were me and a Jazz team official.
I sat quietly and a few minutes later, some movement caught my eye. It was the big wooden door to the training room. Suddenly, Stockton poked his head out and began to scan the room. As he looked my way, our eyes locked and he got this look of surprise, and then resignation.
He knew that he’d been caught.
I got my one and only one-on-one interview with the legend that day and I learned what I already knew — Stockton was smart, funny, well-spoken and polite. He said he didn’t like doing interviews because he just never felt comfortable and he was a private person. It just wasn’t his personality.
Ammon Takau reminds me of Stockton in that way. I’ve interviewed Takau a few times and he’s always been great (I don’t think he ever hid from me). But the Dixie senior quarterback, who was named by Salt Lake media as the 3AA MVP this week, never seemed comfortable talking about himself.
Following in the footsteps of the amazing Blake Barney couldn’t have been easy for Takau. Especially since Barney was a vocal guy, outgoing in his role as a leader on and off the field. Takau, meanwhile, was a lead-by-example kind of guy.
And no one can argue with his results as he led the Flyers to the 2014 state championship, just two years after Barney did the same.
Takau threw just five interceptions in 13 games, compared to 28 touchdown passes. He also rushed for 10 more TDs. Now that’s leading by example.
The other first team all-staters from southern Utah:
Kody Wilstead, QB, Pine View — The senior BYU commit ended up as the second leading passer in Utah history with 9,658 yards and threw 90 touchdown passes, also second all-time.
Bridger Cowdin, RB, Desert Hills — Always a threat to break it big, Cowdin is the all-time all-purpose yardage leader in Utah history.
Pano Tia Tia, RB, Pine View — A world-class athlete who represents the USA in boxing, Tia Tia actually ran out from under Wilstead’s shadow this year with 1,666 yards and 13 TDs.
Blake Ence, WR/DB, Pine View — A starter both ways, Ence always seemed to be there when the Panthers needed a big play, whether it was a tackle, interception or great catch.
Bret Barben, WR, Dixie — He got better every game and was Takau’s go-to guy in the championship, catching 8 balls for 140 yards.
Bladen Hosner, WR, Pine View — A bit undersized, Hosner made up for that with quickness and sticky fingers. He had back to back games of over 160 receing yards during region play.
Jaxon Davis, OL, Dixie — Team captain and the guy who kept Takau safe while he shredded the defenses.
Harrison Goebel, OL/DL, Pine View — Started both ways for PV and was a huge part of Tia Tia’s big season.
Koalman Kimber, OL/DL, Cedar — Only a junior, he helped Cedar’s option offense succeed.
Justice Alo, OL, Desert Hills — Also a junior, he was valuable at multiple positions.
Jeff Martinez, DL, Dixie — Another junior, Martinez had six sacks against Payson this season.
Lausii “Boogie” Sewell, DL, Desert Hills — A disruption to opposing offenses all year, had 82 tackles.
Tucker Cowdin, LB, Desert Hills — A tackling machine, and led the state in sacks with 16.
Jeremiah Ieremia, LB, Hurricane — Committed to BYU, Ieremia is a physical specimen who had 101 tackles this year.
Charlie Sefita, LB, Hurricane — Incredible instincts for finding the ball carrier and making a play.
Jaden Harrison, WR/DB, Dixie — Valuable on both sides of the ball, has amazing quickness.
Gabriel Sewell, DB, Desert Hills — Hitting machine who has next level talent (committed to Colorado).
Nephi Sewell, DB/KR, Desert Hills — Refused to go down on returns and took several INTs back for scores.
McLane Keenan, PK, Dixie — Consistent kicker with eight FGs, also played wide receiver.
3AA Second team (South players only):
QB: Nick Warmsley, Desert Hills, Jr.
RB: Tre Miller, Dixie, Jr.
WR: Preston Little, Payson, Sr.
TE: Chance Thorkelson, Snow Canyon, Sr.
OL: McCrae Murray, Cedar, Jr.
OL: Brayden Rice, Hurricane, Sr.
OL: Gage Afatasi, Pine View, Sr.
DL: Dallin Brooks, Cedar, Sr.
DL: Tyler Heaton, Pine View, So
LB: John Harmon, Payson, Sr.
LB: Badge Morris, Desert Hills, Jr.
LB: Brady Sargent, Snow Canyon, Sr.
DB: RJ Wilgar, Dixie, Sr.
DB: Noah Elison, Hurricane, Sr.
K: Ethan Baer, Pine View, Sr.
3AA Honorable Mention
QB: Easton Smith, Payson, Sr.
WR: Colton Miller, Pine View, Sr.
TE: Dalton Baker, Payson, Sr.
OL: Blake Patterson, Dixie, Sr.
OL: Raymond Fiame, Pine View, Sr.
DL: Matt Olsen, Hurricane, Sr.
DL: Dillan Robertson, Pine View, So.
LB: Jayden Robinson, Cedar, Jr.
DB: Nick McDaniel, Hurricane, Jr.
DB: CJ McNeil, Cedar, Sr.
K: Jeff Rogers, Cedar, Sr.
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