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Mr. Football Hype

News names early favorites in garnering award

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Various college football publications hype Heisman Trophy candidates as early as June. Not to be outdone, the Deseret Morning News is jumping on the "hype" bandwagon.

A measly two games into the season, just who are the favorites for the News' prestigious Mr. Football award?

The 2003 Mr. Football winner will be the seventh in a line of prestigious winners, which have included Morgan Scalley, David Fiefia, Bo Nagahi, Steve Tate, Daniel Coats and Kyle Brady.

Here are 10 early candidates in no particular order:

TAUNI VAKAPUNA, HUNTER: The Jordan Beetdiggers are already convinced. Vakapuna reeled off 125 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-0 victory over Jordan last week — all in the first half.

Vakapuna is a powerful runner who also possess great quickness.

As if that isn't enough for defenders to contend with, Vakapuna has the luxury of running behind perhaps the biggest and best offensive line in the state.

MAX MOALA, OLYMPUS: If the Titans don't win another game, Moala will still be a hero at the East bench school. The powerful running back carried the ball 25 times for 177 yards and three touchdowns in leading Olympus past Skyline last Friday for the time since 1992.

With Moala running the ball though, there's a good chance "The Rock" won't be the only trophy the Titans are putting in the trophy case this year.

The week before against Cedar, Moala was equally as good in racking up 151 yards and two touchdowns.

KYLE BOWEN, ALTA: His numbers weren't staggering in Alta's season-opening victory over Murray, but they didn't need to be.

The Hawks' tall quarterback tossed two touchdown passes and racked up 196 yards passing. With two quality receivers at his disposal and five returning starters on the offensive line, Bowen could have plenty of time to pick apart opposing secondaries this year.

BEAU ENSLOW, ALTA: If Alta's 41-7 season-opening win over Murray is any indicator, a monster season is in Enslow's future. Running behind a seasoned offensive line, he reeled off 128 yards and three touchdowns.

"He is one of the best backs in the state," said Alta coach Mitch Lunak.

As a back-up last year, he rushed for 600 yards, which included a 13-yard average per carry.

JON EASTMAN, HILLCREST: Traditionally the Mr. Football winner comes from one of the five state champions. Considering the Huskies were picked to finish fifth in Region 2 by the region coaches, Hillcrest is definitely a long shot for the 5A trophy.

Eastman, however, is not.

In two games so far, the Huskies quarterback has five rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns in guiding Hillcrest to a 2-0 start.

Last season, Eastman recorded 2,307 yards last year and 21 touchdowns.

BEAU HERBERT, BOX ELDER: The senior running back did it all in the Bees' Week 2 trouncing of Layton. First he ran for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Then, when coach Wes Roesler figured the Lancers would try an on-side kick late in the game, he inserted his first-team kick-off return team into the game. When Layton didn't kick it deep, the Division I prospect merely returned the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.

Last season he finished with 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns.

PHIL POLOA, JORDAN: OK, so maybe he only has 30 total rushing yards in three games. But honestly, how long can this speedster be stymied? While Clearfield held him to 20 yards and Hunter held him to 10 yards, we're talking about a legitimate Division I prospect who finished with 1,588 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.

It's only a matter of time until Jordan's brand new offensive line figures out the blocking schemes and the talented Poloa starts reeling off lengthy touchdown runs.

LYNWOOD JOHNSON, NORTHRIDGE: This Knight running back made a big splash by running for four touchdowns in Northridge's state championship victory over Skyline last year. His four TDs tied a championship game state record.

Two games into this season, the returning first-team all-stater is up to the same ol' tricks. In top-ranked Northridge's narrow win over Lone Peak last Friday, he rumbled into the end zone twice — including a 50-yarder.

MITCH REID, SKYLINE: If anyone is capable of handling the immense pressure of being Skyline's quarterback, it's the poised Mitch Reid. Northridge beat Skyline in the past three 5A state championships, and Reid was in uniform for all of them.

Now, the prospect of Skyline returning to championship form rests on the senior QB's shoulders. He proved himself more than capable in Skyline's season-opening over Brighton in which he passed and rushed for two touchdowns.

Had it not been for Reid's passing against Olympus last Friday, the Eagles could've been blown away by the Titans.

STEPHEN COVEY, TIMPVIEW: The T-Birds' offense is traditionally one of the most explosive in the state. That probably has as much to do with the system as the kids who play for Timpview. That should be no different with Stephen Covey behind center.

In two games, Covey has two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.

If Timpview finds itself in possession of a 4A championship trophy at season's end, Covey will likely be the man to lead them there.

1997 - Morgan Scalley, Highland (Utah)

1998 - David Fiefia, Hunter (Utah St.)

1999 - Bo Nagahi, Skyline (Utah)

2000 - Steve Tate, Skyline (Utah St.)

2001 - Daniel Coats, Northridge (BYU)

2002 - Kyle Brady, Tooele (Utah)