When it came to putting fear into opponents, no one did it better than Alta's Boo Andersen.

Fitting, considering the name.

"He gave us the dark side to the black uniforms," said Alta coach Les Hamilton.

Whether he was firing up teammates in a spirited pregame chant, knocking the daylights out of unsuspecting quarterbacks on blitzes or clobbering ball carriers with his surprising speed, Andersen did so with an edge that would've made any Oakland Raiders fan proud.

"He gave us that mean, toughness, grit, intimidation factor on defense," said Hamilton. "Most teams did not want to go up against him. I know I wouldn't."

In a high school football season that will be remembered for defense, it's only fitting that the 2007 Deseret Morning News Mr. Football be presented to Andersen, the imposing linebacker who did it as well as anybody.

On a state championship team that featured numerous other defensive standouts like Jefferson Court, Derek Keller and Jordan Anderson, it was Boo Andersen who was the x-factor — the one coaches couldn't ignore.

When one 5A coach was asked who he believed was Alta's best defensive player, he responded by saying, "Without question, it's Boo Andersen."

Andersen's own coach said he's virtually unblockable, and at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Hamilton believes Andersen is ready for the next level right now.

"He already has a college body," Hamilton said. "Whatever school he goes to, he's going to be able to step in and play. He's not going to have to take time to develop. If he learns the defensive scheme where he goes, he'll be able to step right in and get reps as a true freshman."

The University of Utah, which is where he wants to play, is hot after Andersen's services. Now if he can just qualify academically. Grades aren't an issue now; it's just that Andersen has a lot of ground to make up.

Despite living in Alta's boundaries, Andersen attended Cottonwood his freshman and sophomore years to be at the same school as his older brother, Cliff Andersen. The younger Andersen said he loved his time at Cottonwood, where he was Stanley Havili's blocking back as a sophomore, but he developed some bad habits along the way and his grades suffered mightily.

Just prior to his junior season, Andersen decided it was best to transfer back to his home school, but missed Alta's two-a-days in the process. That setback actually helped kick-start Andersen's two-year maturation process that Hamilton said has been a pleasure to watch.

"We just run a different type program, and we needed him to be better in the classroom and be a better leader, really dive into and dedicate himself to not only football, but his teammates and the program," said Hamilton. "He's come a long way."

A year ago, despite being more gifted physically than most players in front of him on Alta's depth chart, Andersen was relegated to junior varsity duty the first five games while learning the system and proving himself to his new teammates and coaches.

Each week, his commitment paid off in the classroom and on the field, and by season's end last year he'd earned all-region honors before a hip flexor injury cut his season short in the playoffs.

During his senior season, Andersen finished the year with 82 tackles — 22 for a loss — not bad for a guy most teams tried to avoid.

"He's one of the few defensive players in the state that teams had to prepare for," said Hamilton.

Mr. Football winners

2007 — Boo Andersen, Alta (undecided)

2006 — Sausan Shakerin, Alta (undecided)

2005 — Riley Nelson, Logan (Utah State)

2004 — Jason Zundel, Bear River (UVSC baseball)

2003 — Ray Feinga, Hunter (BYU)

2002 — Kyle Brady, Tooele (Utah)

2001 — Daniel Coats, Northridge (BYU)

2000 — Steve Tate, Skyline (Utah)

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1999 — Bo Nagahi, Skyline (Utah)

1998 — David Fiefia, Hunter (Utah State)

1997 — Morgan Scalley, Highland (Utah)

E-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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