To view photos of the 2008 All-State Football Team, please click on the story graphic at right.

PROVO — With his football days at Timpview High over, Craig Bills is now hoping to become a model.

Not one who walks down fashion runways or poses for magazine covers in designer clothing — even though that would be a fairly desirable gig for a teen — but one that other football players emulate and strive to match.

He's hoping his three years as a starting safety at Timpview have set the standard on how a top-notch football

player and defensive back should play, and the skills that they should possess.

"I hope those who have watched me play look at me as someone who has a good work ethic, as someone who always played hard, and that I played football the way football is supposed to be played," Bills said.

If the highlight-reel clips, his three state titles and two previous all-state awards don't help validate his claim, then perhaps being honored as the Deseret News 2008 Mr. Football might be the icing on the cake.

"It's a very good feeling to know that I'm getting recognized for the way I play on the field," Bills said.

Thunderbird coach Louis Wong believes there's no more deserving player in the state for the award than the one who has been a team leader on arguably the state's top defense for the past three seasons, on a team that has won 36 straight games and three straight 4A state titles.

"He's the one who directs our defense, which has been dominant all three years that he's been doing that," Wong said. "He's been the quarterback on our team defensively, and he's for sure one of the most competitive players that I've ever coached."

If setting the standard is what Bills aimed to accomplish, he's done that, Wong said. According to Wong, Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton complimented Bills as the top safety in Utah, even when including all of the colleges. That might be exaggerating some, but Wong said Bills is definitely one of Utah's best high school safeties ever.

"He sets the tone as far as what's expected out of a safety and what's expected out of players here at Timpview," Wong said.

Each year Bills has improved his strength, speed and knowledge of the game by never missing a workout and always heeding the words of his coaches. Scouts say few can read the run better, few tackle better, and few defend the pass better.

"He has every element ... he reads well, he's quick to the ball and he'll come up and take your head off a couple of times in the middle and you'll never want to throw it there again," Wong said.

Playing physical football and laying thunderous hits on receivers and running backs is certainly Bills' trademark.

"He is so aggressive on the field that officials haven't seen a player like him, so they throw flags on him because he's so relentless when he hits someone. They think he's actually trying to hurt them and knock them out, when that's just his nature. He has always been that way and he'll continue to be that way. He'll hit you so hard it will knock himself out," Wong said.

He's plenty quick as well, as he proved in picking off a pass against Sky View in the playoffs in the end zone and then racing 102 yards for a touchdown.

Bills will play next for BYU, which offered him a scholarship when he was only a sophomore. He's hoping to remain a safety at the next level, but many predict he'll grow big enough to play linebacker.

"I want to make a difference there, just like I did here. I want to make an even bigger name for myself at BYU, maybe even someday playing a level beyond there," Bills said.

The Mr. Football award is not only an honor individually to Bills, but Timpview folks believe it also recognizes the program as a whole — which has never before had a Mr. Football recipient despite its repeated success year after year.

"I just hope we can continue to develop players like Craig down the road," Wong said.

Mr. Football Winners

2008 — Craig Bills (BYU)

2007 — Boo Anderson (Utah)

2006 — Sausan Shakerin, Alta (Utah)

2005 — Riley Nelson, Logan (BYU)

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: jimr@desnews.com

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