How's this for impressive?

In leading Bear River to a pair of 3A state championships the past two years, Jason Zundel racked up 4,072 total rushing and passing yards and 69 total touchdowns.

Now the fascinating part — he's a better baseball player than football player.

Nonetheless, Zundel's ability to dominate a football game was unmatched in the state, and as a result, the Deseret Morning News has named him the 2004 recipient of the Mr. Football award.

"He doesn't want the attention; he's just a kid who wants to have fun," said Bear River coach Chris Wise. "He's not going to let his teammates down, and I think that had a lot to do with our success."

Zundel's record as a starter was 26-1.

Coaches can't teach a winning attitude like that, and it was contagious to the rest of Zundel's teammates.

"You can measure the confidence level that everyone has when Jason's in the huddle," said Wise. "If we were to take Jason out and put in our second stringer, you'd see a noted difference."

Even when Zundel handed off to first-team all-state running back Tony Martinez, which he did often, Zundel's mere presence on the field gave defensive coordinators plenty to worry about.

The senior was at his best on the edge.

Whenever the Bears needed a big play, the coaching staff called a play that would get Zundel outside of the pocket. After that, he was free to improvise.

"He wanted to throw the ball for the first down, but if it wasn't there, he'd tuck it and go and he'd get the first down," said Wise.

In this year's state title game against Pine View at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Zundel did a lot more than merely get first downs. In the 47-14 victory, he scored on runs of 4, 8, 1 and 2 yards. That upped his season rushing-touchdown total to 15.

He also added one passing touchdown in that game, giving him 21 on the season.

Wise knows Zundel is more likely to play baseball at the next level, but he's not convinced it's because he's too small.

Zundel has alternated between football, basketball and then baseball since he was 8, and as a result he's never had time to focus on weight lifting and nutrition. With some guidance, the type a Division I college football program could provide, Wise thinks Zundel could excel.

"I think he would be an outstanding athlete no matter where you put him," said Wise. "I know for a fact Southern Utah really likes him as a quarterback. He obviously has the intangible skill you need at quarterback."

If Zundel pursues football, it would still likely be as defensive back. He played strong safety off and on for Bear River this year, and came up with a big interception against Pine View in the championship game.


Awards Night

The Utah High School Football Coaches' Association All-State awards ceremony will be Monday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. at Jordan High School (9800 S. State). There will be a hospitality room open for college and high school coaches at 5 p.m. First-team selections and their families are invited. Admission is free. Players should bring a jersey for the group photo. Certificates will be mailed out to second-team and honorable mention selections.


Mr. Football winners over the years

1997 — Morgan Scalley, Highland (Utah)

1998 — David Fiefia, Hunter (Utah State)

1999 — Bo Nagahi, Skyline (Utah)

2000 — Steve Tate, Skyline (Utah State)

2001 — Daniel Coats, Northridge (BYU)

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2002 — Kyle Brady, Tooele (Utah)

2003 — Ray Feinga, Hunter (BYU)

2004 — Jason Zundel, Bear River (undecided)


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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