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Highland’s speedy Scalley named Mr. Football

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High school kickers, punters, special-teams coaches and defenses, you can exhale. Go ahead, relax and wipe off that cold sweat. The nightmare is over. Morgan Scalley will never again terrorize your field.

After haunting opponents during two fantastic seasons at Highland High, Scalley has been named the first recipient of the Deseret News Mr. Football award - Utah's version of the Heisman Trophy, if you will."I can't think of anybody more deserving than Morgan," says Highland coach Larry Wilson. "He will set a standard that will be very prestigious and hard to match."

You wouldn't exactly guess that by looking at him. Standing at 5-foot-11 with a lean but muscular 180-pound frame, Scalley is hardly an intimidating figure. Heck, even he jokes that his older sisters used to beat up on him.

But what Scalley lacks in size, he more than makes up for with his blazing quickness, agility and smarts.

"It's very rare you get the complete package of everything like he has," says Wilson. "He has the best combo of balance, vision, strength and speed as any kid I've ever seen."

His statistics, which only scratch the surface on his overall ability, are as good as you'll see as well.

Scalley, a tailback in Highland's explosive Power I, weaved his way through opposing defenses for an average gain of 11 yards per carry. He rushed for 1,647 yards and scored 19 touchdowns on only 151 carries.

For the majority of Highland's blowouts, mind you, he was playing cheerleader not too long after halftime. In one game, against Judge, he touched the ball just three times and scored as many TDs before getting pulled.

In a sort of maybe-we-should've-broken-every-record-in-the-book selfish daydream, Wilson wonders what might have happened had he let Scalley rush for more than his average of 12.6 carries a game.

"Just imagine if he would have played all four quarters," says Wilson. "It would have been phen-om-enal."

Scalley was perhaps most dangerous on special teams, where he calmly zig-zagged through defenders like a startled cat. He returned three kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns, and averaged 41.2 yards a kickoff and 20.6 yards on 23 punt returns. He scored seven times on special teams as a junior.

East coach Keeko Georgelas, who helplessly watched him bring back a punt 64 yards for a score, says he worried about him most on the returns.

"He scares you to death in the open field. On special teams he was unbelievable," Georgelas says. "Scalley is a big-time player. He's always a threat to make a big play."

He wasn't the only opposing coach to launch accolades in Scalley's direction.

"He's every bit as good as people make him up to be. He's so dangerous," says Timpview coach Chad Van Orden. "He's real impressive. I don't know of a better running back that we played against all year."

Scalley was also 2-for-2 with two TDs on halfback passes this year. "Maybe we should have used him there (as QB)," jokes Wilson.

Judging his game, you'd think college coaches would be pounding through the Scalleys' front, back and garage doors to hand him a brochure. But he has only attracted mild response from the big boys. Utah appears to be most interested, but even the Utes are a bit lukewarm in courting the star.

Highland offensive co-ordinator Wayne McQuivey compares Scal-ley's situation to that of another former Utah prep standout, Bryan Rowley. McQuivey, who was an offensive assistant under former U. coach Jim Fassel, recalls the Utes being apprehensive about recruiting Orem High's Rowley because of his size, too. All the 5-10 Rowley did was become an All-American and one of the finest receivers in Utah history.

Now McQuivey's trying to convince the Utes and others not to overlook Scalley simply because, well, they can easily overlook him.

"That's the problem Morgan has," says McQuivey. "He's a small, white kid from Utah, but I tell you what, he can play."

More than that, he can flat-out fly. Last summer, McQuivey clocked Scalley running the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds.

"He's the fastest kid I've ever timed," boasts McQuivey. That's including the speedy Rowley and hundreds of other college kids he watched during his 15 years at Utah, Weber State and SUU.

If he had his wish, Scalley would go where his hero played.

"My dad (Bud Scalley) played for the U.," he says. "It's always been a dream of mine to follow that up."

Wherever he ends up, Scalley sees himself as a defensive back or a wide receiver. He proved capable of doing both for the Rams. Scalley hauled in 22 receptions for 466 yards (21.2 yards per catch) and made 39 solo tackles with three interceptions.

"My size is going to hurt me," he says. "Most colleges probably look at me as a DB or receiver, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I wouldn't want to run the ball."

Wilson thinks any college would be crazy not to snatch Scalley, and not just because he's an extraordinary athlete. Scalley, who plays on Highland's national-champion rugby team, is the LDS seminary president and maintains a 3.91 GPA, is a well-balanced young man.

"From socially to academically to religiously to athletically, there's just not many like him around," says Wilson. "For us older guys, you learn to appreciate it, because those kids are few and far between."

Though he racked up 5,505 all-purpose yards and scored 54 touchdowns in two years of varsity, one thing escaped Scalley during his prep career. He never played in a championship game.

Scalley couldn't play in the 1996 semifinals because of a broken finger, or who knows what would've happened. And he could only toss and turn for a few nights following the Rams' unexpected early exit in the semis against eventual champion Timpview. He won't let that spoil his high school football memories, though.

"If you look at that last game and make that reflect the entire year, it's kind of dumb," he says. "Even though we didn't win a state championship, we still had an amazing year. It's kind of heartbreaking, but you can either sulk or learn from it, and that's what we're trying to do."