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MVPs excelled on and off the field for their teams

Year after year, the state of Utah produces outstanding talent on the football field. It's evident every Friday night, but also in the number of big-time college football programs that routinely recruit the Beehive State to compete with Utah and BYU for the top players.

As a result, the competition for postseason honors is greater than ever, but the 2009 Deseret News state football MVPs stood out above their peers.

Davis' Tanner Hinds, Timpview's Ofa Latu, Park City's Dylan Chynoweth, San Juan's Jace Holliday and Rich's Bradley Holmes are all seniors who not only had incredible careers on the field, but also excelled with their character off the field.

Not all hoisted state championship hardware last month, but they all had dominant seasons regardless of the end result.

5A MVP: Tanner Hinds, Davis

Statistics sometimes speak for themselves, but for this senior running back, they only told half the story.

In amassing more than 2,000 yards of total offense Hinds was the catalyst behind Davis' runner-up finish to Bingham. But it was the intangibles that stood out to the coaching staff.

"Tanner is an incredible football player, but that's not my most favorite thing about him. My most favorite thing about him is he's humble, he has an incredible work ethic, he has a tremendous desire to be part of a successful team," said Davis coach Ryan Bishop.

A Region 1 championship, a trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium and a second-place finish to No. 1 Bingham definitely constitutes success.

The workhorse back, he carried the ball 281 times for 1,931 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, finishing with a 6.9 yard per carry average. Some of his biggest games included a 181-yard performance in the semifinals against Hunter, a 182-yard outburst against Pleasant Grove in the quarterfinals and 187 yards against Syracuse in Week 4.

"He's the entire package. He can run, he's hard-nosed, he's physical, he's quick and could use his speed when he needed to," said Bishop. "He could catch the ball out of the backfield, he blocked when we asked him to, that's what made him such a complete player."

In addition to his monster season rushing the ball, Hinds also added 104 receiving yards, 224 kickoff return yards and 252 punt return yards. He finished his three-year career with 4,655 all-purpose yards, all while maintaining his humble demeanor.

Hinds is still considering his college football options, even though Weber State and Southern Utah are showing the most interest at this point.

"Wherever Tanner goes, he'll be a success and he'll continue to do the same things he did here. He's not just one of those kids whose just a good high school player, he's a legitimate guy," said Bishop.

4A MVP: Ofa Latu, Timpview

Coaches dream about a player with Latu's versatility, and Timpview's coaching staff didn't let those talents go to waste.

When Timpview needed a linebacker to spy Mountain Crest quarterback Alex Kuresa in the semifinals so he didn't scramble for big rushing yards, Latu was the guy. In the championship game against Springville, the T-Birds weren't worried about a scrambling quarterback, so they had Latu play over the tight end and jam him to disrupt the passing game.

He excelled in both games for Timpview's dominant defense and recorded four interceptions in those two games.

"He understands the game. He has great football savvy as far as field presence and looking at an offense and seeing what they're trying to do and distract and disrupt it," said Timpview coach Louis Wong.

Latu became the heart of Timpview's defense when Bronson Kaufusi went down with a knee injury, and his versatility was a big reason why the T-Birds only allowed 13.8 points per game this season. At times, he even played on the defensive line when necessary, and he could've played in the secondary if necessary, too, according to Wong.

Despite his 80 tackles, five interceptions and one sack this season, at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Latu is viewed as being too undersized to play Division I football by college coaches. Wong said he understands that Latu doesn't pass the initial "eyeball" test, but for the past two years he's seen just how dominant his linebacker can be.

"His ability to play where we need him based on what an offense is trying to do to us was big for us," said Wong.

Latu was a low-key kid throughout the season, someone who wanted to do his job, and in the process he led Timpview to a fourth straight state championship.

3A MVP: Dylan Chynoweth, Park City

The Miners came up short of their goal to win the 3A championship, but that in no way diminishes the incredible season turned in by Chynoweth.

In 13 games, Chynoweth racked up 2,258 yards and 34 touchdowns on 185 carries, for a staggering 12.2 yards-per-carry average.

His 2,258 yards ranks fourth in state history and is the most since Alan Mouritsen racked up 2,305 yards for Grantsville in 1997.

"He's the best football player I've coached. He's not just the best running back. It's what he does in the classroom, what he does in the weight room and what he does in community that makes him the best football player," said Park City coach Brandon Matich.

Chynoweth scored at least one touchdown in every game, rushed for more than 100 yards in 12 of 13 games, and rushed for more than 240 yards four different times.

Defenses and fans quickly learned to keep their eye on Chynoweth until the whistle. On numerous occasions, he seemed to get lost in a heap of bodies at the line of scrimmage, only to bounce out and race to the end zone.

"He has tremendous balance, he has tremendous acceleration off his breaks. I would've never pictured him as a fullback in our offense as a sophomore," said Matich. "The work he did on his legs with squats and power cleans has made him a better football player, has made him stronger."

Chynoweth could've easily gone over 2,500 yards this season, but Park City blew out numerous teams and he only had nine carries against Canyon View, five against Carbon and eight against Union. He still went over 100 yards in each of those games despite the minimal carries.

He maintains a 3.995 GPA, and Matich said Chynoweth does everything he can on and off the field to make him better. He has been offered a scholarship by Army, Navy and Air Force, but he's still weighing his options.

2A MVP: Jace Holliday, San Juan

Few players have a passion for football quite like Holliday. Combined with his skill, Holliday was virtually unstoppable for the Broncos this year.

"Jace is a young man that keeps everything in perspective. He never takes anything too serious and plays the game of football the way it was meant to be played, all out and for the joy it brings," said San Juan coach Monty Lee.

That joy led to phenomenal results for the 2A state champs. As a running back, Holliday rushed for 1,320 yards and 13 touchdowns on 159 carries. As a defensive end, he finished with 75 tackles and seven sacks.

Defensively, because of his quickness, he rarely got beat to the edge, and when he did he was quick enough to chase the player down from behind. Offensively, he was very difficult to tackle.

"The biggest thing was his strength. He had a great center of balance," said Lee. "He didn't fight a tackle, a lot of kids will fight through a tackle, he just went with it, lowered his shoulder, lowered his center of balance."

Holliday took everything in stride on the football field, and played every game like it was the biggest game. If things weren't clicking for him offensively, he would re-channel that focus to the defensive side.

"He wasn't flamboyant, he wasn't one of those kids who looked for the limelight, he just took the opportunities he was given and rose to the occasion," said Lee.

1A MVP: Bradley Holmes, Rich

For the better part of four years, Holmes has been the focal point of Rich's offense and defense, and it finally paid off with a 1A state championship this season.

"He's done a great job for us for four years," said Rich coach Ashley Brown. "He loves the sport and we'll miss him a bunch."

Holmes was the type of player that went all out on every single play on both sides of the ball. Defensively he started at linebacker and led the undefeated Rebels in tackles.

"He just had a nose for the football, he was always around it. He was always in the right place," said Brown.

Offensively, he was a dual-threat quarterback who was very dangerous with his feet and arm. The senior rushed for 1,115 yards and 18 TDs on 101 carries this year while he completed 62-of-105 passes for 1,216 yards and 13 TDs.

He finishes his career with 3,317 rushing yards and 49 rushing TDs along with 3,831 passing yards and 34 TDs.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com