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High school football: Nephi Sewell is a kid whose story we can all root for

SALT LAKE CITY — Desert Hills running back Nephi Sewell is widely regarded as one of the state's best athletes. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior spent his entire junior season and the first few games of his senior season out because of a serious neck injury he suffered on the fourth play of his junior season. Sewell broke the fourth and fifth vertabrae in his neck and many thought he would never play football again. But Sewell wouldn't be denied. He returned for his senior season to lead the team in rushing including a huge performance in the 3AA semifinal game against Stansbury.

"It's good to be back. I missed the year last year and I'm making the most of it," Sewell said when asked how it felt to be championship-bound.

The senior posted a dominant performance against the Stallions, rushing for 148 yards and three touchdowns on only 11 carries and I'll save you the math: that's just under 14 yards per carry. Sewell also caught one pass for 6 yards and even attempted a pass from the wildcat formation. This is nothing new for a player who before his injury was loading up one college offer after another, but it's his remarkable recovery that makes his story so amazing.

"I mean it's definitely a blessing, a year ago I had to watch my team in the quarterfinals lose at home and I promised myself I would never let that happen again," Sewell said when asked about his injury.

The senior's perseverance has not gone unnoticed by his teammates. Thunder quarterback Quinn Kiser, and longtime friend of Sewell, added to the praise of his teammate.

"It's honestly a miracle to be honest with you, him and I have been best friends since he moved here. I've just never seen a player with so much passion and I've never known a player who can play the game of football the way he can," Kiser said when asked about his teammate's return from injury.

When asked about his recovery, Sewell deflected all the praise to God and the work of the doctors who helped him.

"All glory to God 'cause without him I wouldn't be back on the field and if it wasn't for the doctors doing such a good job I wouldn't be back on the field either, and I'm just very grateful to be back here on the field with my team and with my family," Sewell said while fighting off tears when asked about his recovery process.

As far as the college offers that were stacking up before his injury, many schools, as would be expected, backed off after the injury. But there is little doubt that a player with so much talent and so much passion and such an amazing story will get an opportunity at the next level.

"It's just an incredible story, honestly, the kids are gonna go on to play at the next level no question," Kiser said when asked about his teammate's future.