High school football: Corner Canyon QB Cole Hagen combines bloodlines, talent, smarts to climb state’s all-time passing list
Chargers’ QB carries a 4.0 GPA, takes three college courses, scored a 35 on the ACT and has offers to attend Ivy League schools Yale and Harvard
DRAPER — During his outstanding football coaching career at Jordan and Corner Canyon high schools, Erik Kjar has developed a reputation as a quarterback-whisperer, producing top-notch players such as Austin Kafentzis, Alex Hart and McCoy Hill at Jordan and current BYU starter Zach Wilson at Corner Canyon.
Kjar won’t say whether his current QB at Corner Canyon is above or below the aforementioned, but he does concede one thing in particular about senior Cole Hagen, who leads the Chargers into Friday’s Class 6A state championship game against American Fork.
Hagen is almost certainly the smartest. The senior carries a 4.0 grade point average, scored a 35 on the ACT college admission test (36 is the highest score possible) and has offers to play at Ivy League schools Harvard and Yale.
“My parents did a good job of teaching me when I was young that school was important,” Hagen said. “That’s always been something that has been a priority for me.”
So is excelling at football. Hagen’s father, Sean, played football and baseball at nearby Brighton High School and gave up a scholarship offer to play at the University of Utah to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being taken in the eighth round of the 1993 Major League baseball draft. He currently engineers fire sprinkler systems.
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
“Cole is so fun to coach,” Kjar said. “You can just throw a lot of things at him from a scheme standpoint because he is so smart. He remembers everything, concept-wise, so I don’t have to reteach or make sure he is comfortable with it. You just get him the reps and he is ready to go.”
That was certainly the case in last week’s 34-7 semifinal win over Lone Peak, the only team that gave No. 1-seed Corner Canyon much of the test in the regular season. Hagen was 14 of 29 for 280 yards and three touchdowns and also ran 14 times for 87 yards and a score.
“He fits right in there with all the really good ones I’ve coached,” Kjar said. “I have had so many that have been super, super talented, so it is hard to differentiate them. I just kinda throw them all together because I think they’ve all been great.”
Surprisingly, major football programs haven’t come calling, as they did two years ago for Wilson. Cole Hagen’s only non-Ivy League offers are from Dixie State and Weber State.
“Yeah, that has been a little weird, with the way he has played, and the way he is academically, and the kind of leader he has been for us, and the toughness he shows and things like that,” Kjar said. “But you just never know. I have been coaching now for 16 years, and I don’t know what they are looking for, to be honest.”
Hagen’s brother, sophomore receiver Cody Hagen, is in line to be the Chargers’ starting QB next season. This is the first season they’ve played together, and they’ve connected for several touchdowns.
“We are around each other all the time at home, but being on the football field together is a whole different thing, and a cool experience,” Cole Hagen said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Cole Hagen isn’t one of those guys who pays attention to his stats, but they are impressive. The two-year starter — he backed up Wilson his sophomore season — is close to or on several top-10 lists.
He’s eighth on the list for most touchdown passes, with 83, and can move into a tie for seventh with one against the Cavemen at Rice-Eccles Stadium. He’s 11th in touchdowns responsible for, with 104, and one shy from the top 10. He’s 14th in total offense (8,981) and passing yards (7,155).
“That’s kinda cool,” Hagen said, “but all that really matters is this championship game Friday.”