HIGHLAND — On the surface, almost nothing about Lone Peak's Talmage Gunther indicates that he's playing as well as any quarterback in the state.
Not his listed height of 6 foot 0, nor his hesitant attitude in discussing any personal success he's enjoyed this season.
But when you look at what the senior signal-caller means to his team, along with a quick survey of his stats and what the Knights have accomplished so far this season, it's clear that the role of starting quarterback fits him like a glove.
Attitude, along with leadership and intangibles, are what Gunther has brought to the table during the Knights' impressive 6-0 start. During the six-game stretch Gunther has compiled 1,141 yards of total offense and 17 total touchdowns against just two interceptions as his team has beat its opponents by an average of 30.3 points.
"He's really everything you'd want in your starting quarterback," said Lone Peak coach Mike Mower. "He really is a team player and there's no question about it. He wants to do a great job individually, but his desire to do that job is only to help the team as much as possible."
It's certainly not all about attitude and intangibles with Gunther, however. During his time at Lone Peak, the senior has shown a lot of athletic versatility that could have seen him playing a significant role at any number of positions. For this reason, among others, his role as the team's starting quarterback was hardly set in stone at the start of the year.
Gunther found himself in an intense position battle with Dakota Hansen for the starting spot, narrowly winning out in what Mower describes as "one of the toughest decisions I've had to make as a coach."
Now that he's firmly entrenched as the starter, Gunther has thrived, and true to form, is quick to credit everyone around him for any personal success.
"The guys around me — the offensive line, my receivers, everyone else — is what makes me look good," Gunther said. "The defense too, with them setting us up in great position to score — it takes so much and I'm just one of the parts. That's how I look at it."
Gunther's selfless attitude has helped bring about improved play from everyone else in the eyes of Mower.
"We're blessed to have a lot of players who have Talmage's same attitude and work ethic, but it obviously starts with your quarterback and spreads from there," Mower said. "I've coached teams where that team attitude just isn't there. It's there this year so far and a lot of it is due to Talmage and how he's led from the quarterback spot."
As for Gunther's style of play, he fits the form of former Lone Peak standouts like Chase Hansen and Baron Gajkowski in his ability to beat a defense with both his arm and his legs. While completing 70 percent of his passes for 833 yards and 15 touchdowns, he's also run the ball for 308 yards and two touchdowns on just 46 attempts.
"I've worked hard in the offseason to become a complete quarterback," Gunther said. "I'm not the tallest guy, but I've worked hard at the mechanics, concentrating on my footwork and stuff like that. I feel with that I've been able to become a guy who can leave the pocket to make plays while some of the other bigger guys can't as much."
Gunther credits a lot of his success to the Quarterback Elite camp, which is headed by Dustin Smith. "I feel I've been able to practice a lot of things others don't focus on and it's really helped out this year," Gunther said.
Stats and early-season success aside, Gunther's main goal remains leading the Knights to a 5A state championship, something the program last accomplished in 2011 with Hansen at the helm.
"I remember watching that team when I was in the eighth grade and looked up to those players so much," Gunther said. "To do what they were able to do — it would be incredible. But to get there we just have to keep improving, keep having a great attitude, and just focus on the game right ahead of us."