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MOLEN HAS NO REGRETS ABOUT SCHOOL CHANGE

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Good times and bad times. Wins and losses. Tradition and new beginnings.

In two years time, all-state football player Bryan Molen has seen it all.

"It was a big adjustment," Molen said of his decision to leave Bingham for first-year Copper Hills High School. `I thought it would be better for me. I like the program here and I've improved a lot. I've had a lot of fun - the most fun I've ever had playing football."Which is saying something considering Molen's decision to leave a Bingham program (headed for the state playoffs this week) - that won seven straight games last season and spent much of the year ranked No. 1 - for a winless inaugural campaign with the Grizzlies.

"I'm happy where I am," said Molen, who earned first team all-state honors as a wide receiver for the Miners. "It was a little frustrating at first, but it was good to see our team improving. We came a long way."

So has Molen, who made the senior year switch for a variety of reasons.

"It took a lot of guts for Bryan to come over here," said Copper Hills coach Ron Halbert. "I'm glad he did. He is a wonderful kid to work with. He'd do anything we ask."

Statistics back up the claim. In nine games with the Grizzlies, Molen racked up 1,502 all-purpose yards. He carried the ball 79 times, had 26 receptions, returned 20 kickoffs and 10 punts, scored seven touchdowns and led the team, as a defensive back, with 83 tackles (46 unassisted).

"He was amazing. He has got to be, all-around, one of the best athletes I've been around," said Halbert. "We put a lot of trust in him. He's a premier one."

So why would a returning all-stater transfer to a new school for his senior year?

Opportunities and family ties. At Copper Hills, Molen will be able to play varsity basketball and baseball if he wants. In football, he played flanker under the direction of his father, Tom - who doubled as the school's offensive coordinator and athletic director. In addition, he lives near the school and has a sister enrolled at CHHS.

"I was kind of surprised, but I think that shows you a lot of love between son and dad. It's kind of neat," said Bingham football coach Sonny Sudbury. "That shows a lot of respect."

As a junior, Molen led 5A wide receivers in all-state votes after averaging 16.5 yards per catch with 31 receptions and nine touchdowns.

"Bryan, by heck, would have really helped us," said Sudbury, whose Miners will face Brighton Friday. "It hurt us to have him go, but the bottom line is I think it's neat for a kid to think so much of his dad."

The transfer is truly a family affair.

"He really enjoyed it here," said Tom. "He's never second-guessed his decision even once."

Elected team captain and president of the program's Silver Star fraternity, Molen's work ethic and experience brought some stability to the new program.

"He's a leader, a team leader. He got out, motivated the team, and took control," said Halbert, who knew of Molen while serving as an assistant at West Jordan. "I was excited and thrilled to have someone to work with. Usually you don't open a school with that kind of athlete."

Making the switch to running back offensively, Molen (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) also excelled on defense and in special teams play - blocking a field goal and two extra points this season. He did it all.

"I don't think a team threw to his side all year. They didn't run a sweep or anything to his side," said Halbert. "It's kind of amazing. He'd be double and triple teamed and he still finds a way to catch the ball. Everybody knew he was going to get it, but he just went in and got the job done."

Blessed with 4.5 speed in the 40, much of Molen's success can be attributed to his work ethic.

"He works so hard in practice," said Tom Molen. "I've never seen a kid practice like he does."

The extra effort has paid dividends - drawing the attention of Brigham Young University, Montana State and Weber State among others.

"I just want to play college football," he said.

A stiff challenge considering hurdles associated with playing for a new program.

"I think I've had to work harder, set an example, and keep everybody positive," said Molen. "I think I have improved my speed and quickness - my overall game.

"I thought we'd win some games. We just had a lot of bad breaks," he added. "It would have been nice if we won, but it was still fun."

Playing behind an inexperienced offensive line that featured two sophomores and a freshman took its toll, but failed to sideline Molen physically or mentally. He continued to play despite a pulled calf muscle, a tender hamstring on the other leg and a bruised back.

"It took so much guts," said Halbert. "Even my kids say they `want to be like Bryan Molen."'

With no regrets.

"None at all," the player concluded. "I'm happy here."