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Springville's Pickering comes to pass

The mere mention of Trevyn Smith strikes fear into the hearts of opposing defenders and with good reason: The Springville running back is Utah's leading rusher with 1,253 yards — and he's equally adept at outrunning or running over defenders.

But as good as Smith is, the Red Devils' success — after upending unbeaten Timpview 34-24 on Friday, Springville is 7-0 and the state's previously top-ranked 4A team — would be unthinkable without the emergence of senior quarterback Scott Pickering.

In his first full year as a starter and only his third season playing organized football, Pickering is the second-most accurate quarterback in Utah with a 61.1 percentage completion rate and averaging 188 passing yards per game. Springville opponents must now pick their poison — take away the ground game and be sliced up by Pickering, or play the pass and watch Smith run roughshod over would-be tacklers.

"If a defense is stacked up against the run, Scott has been able to open it up and make them pay," said Springville coach Doug Bills. "Other times teams have tried to take away the pass, and Trevyn goes wild."

"Our passing game wouldn't be as good if it wasn't for Trevyn," said Pickering. "When everybody's expecting run, we get a lot of our yards off of play action."

Bills specifically points to the Red Devils' 35-7 win over Timpanogos last month as an example of what an opponent becomes susceptible to if it overly keys on shutting down Smith. With the Timberwolves consistently committing seven and eight defenders to stopping the run, they held Smith to a season-low 92 yards rushing but got exposed by Pickering's 240 yards passing and three touchdowns (two passing and another rushing).

Pickering, who would be one of Springville's top three golfers if he hung up his football helmet to go play the links, began his path to quarterbacking success when he decided to go out for football as a sophomore.

"I grew up playing golf; my family's a big golfing family," said Pickering. "My sophomore year I came in and just wanted to play football to see what it was like because my friends were playing sophomore ball. I thought, 'Maybe I'll skip my sophomore year of golf and see how I like football, and then just go back to golf after.'

"I played football my sophomore year and I loved it. Sometimes I look back and I miss golf, because that's what I grew up playing. But when I'm out here with all my friends, this is what I really want to do."

Despite his athleticism — he's a deadly outside shooter and Springville's leading scorer on the hardwood and a three-year starter at shortstop in baseball — Pickering entered last season third string on the football depth chart.

"I came into my junior year and I wasn't very good," said Pickering. "I didn't have the offense down, so I didn't know my reads, I didn't know what I was doing. I wasn't comfortable; I wasn't confident with myself. I was just shaky."

"Going into last season, we knew about Scott's talent," said Bills. "But he was just raw — he had only been playing football for a year. In practice he didn't look as good as the other two quarterbacks."

But when Pickering got into the fourth quarter of a game against Orem, he played well enough to earn the right to share time with Matt McCoy as Springville's signal caller.

Then, coming into this season, McCoy's decision to not come out for football and instead concentrate on baseball heaped immense pressure onto Pickering's shoulders. With his main competition for playing time out of the mix, the Red Devils were either going to sink or swim with Pickering at the helm.

Not having to compete with McCoy "has given Scott more confidence, but it's probably also put more pressure on him," said Bills. "But Scott's someone that reacts well to pressure situations. The pressure's on him; he's got to rise to the occasion.

"He's got more confidence this year. He didn't understand the offense as much last year. But now he's studied it, he makes reads, he'll change plays to the other side. He's gotten comfortable in that role."

For his part, Pickering graciously defers to Smith, his best friend, in saying the Red Devils are "definitely Trevyn's team." Pickering also makes a point of crediting his offensive line, receivers, and offensive coordinator Randy Rehrer for Springville's explosiveness.

But don't be fooled by a quarterback's genuine modesty — Springville wouldn't be near the team that it is without the leadership and passing exploits of Scott Pickering.