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High school football: 3 quarterbacks in Utah on pace for record-setting season in 2020

Corner Canyon’s Jaxson Dart, American Fork’s Maddux Madsen and North Sanpete’s Landon Bowles all on pace for 50-plus touchdowns

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American Fork quarterback Maddux Madsen runs the ball against Timpview at American Fork High School in American Fork on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In the history of Utah high school football, only three quarterbacks have ever thrown for 50-plus touchdowns in a single season.

Logan’s Riley Nelson (2005) and Timpview’s Jake Lloyd (2012) were co-record holders with 53 TD passes until Lehi’s Cammon Cooper came along in 2017 and eclipsed them with 58.

Behind that trio, seven other quarterbacks have threatened the 50 mark, ultimately finishing between 45-49 TD passes— all since 2005 as more and more programs have opted to sling the ball around the field.

That elite group of 50s could double in 2020 if current trends from the first half of the season continue — and COVID-19 stays away.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has already ruined the chase for one of the Utah’s gunslingers.

Skyline’s Braxton Bolingbroke was coming off a six-touchdown performance last week against Murray, bumping his season total to 25. With a deep playoff run, Bolingbroke would’ve been right on the 50 TD bubble, but that’s unrealistic now as Skyline is getting shut down for 14 days by the Granite School District because of a surge in cases.

With Skyline’s week 7 (Brighton) and week 8 (Highland) games now canceled, and a bye in week 9, the Eagles’ only other scheduled regular season game is Friday, Oct. 16 at Olympus.

With Bolingbroke unfortunately bowing out of the chase for 50, that leaves American Fork’s Maddux Madsen, Corner Canyon’s Jaxson Dart and North Sanpete’s Landon Bowles as the front-runners to etch their names in the UHSAA record books.

Through six games, Madsen has passed for 28 touchdowns while Dart and Bowles have passed for 27 each.

All three quarterbacks have four regular season games remaining, while Dart and Madsen could play an additional four playoff games, while the maximum playoff games North Sanpete could play is three.

Of the trio, Dart seems the most likely to perhaps threaten Cooper’s state record of 58 touchdowns. There’s still a lot of football to play, but with the way Corner Canyon has dominated it seems likely that it be playing in the state championship game which would give Dart the maximum number of games played.

If Dart maintained his 4.5 TD passes average over those eight games, that would give him 63 TD passes. Even if his pace slows to four per game, he’d still be on pace for 59 touchdowns.

Dart has thrown four-plus TDs in every game but the season opener against Farmington, when he passed for three scores and rushed for two more.

As for Dart’s region rival Madsen, his one-TD performance in American Fork’s surprising 41-9 loss to Skyridge last week certainly stunted his pace.

Madsen is still on a record-setting pace of 4.66 TDs per game, but it will be very tough to maintain that pace against the stout defenses of Lone Peak and Corner Canyon in the coming weeks. On top of that, American Fork’s bid to advance to a third straight state title game is a bit more in doubt after such a humbling loss to Skyridge.

As for Bowles, with one less potential game than his 6A counterparts, he’d need to increase his pace ever so slightly to threaten Cooper’s record.

Perhaps a more realistic pursuit would be Nelson’s 3A record of 53 touchdown passes in 2005. At 27 TDs, he’s already halfway there.

At the end of the day, Bowles would likely trade every one of those touchdown passes for an elusive state title for North Sanpete. In 104 years of playing football, the program has never won a state title. It’s a sentiment any quarterback would likely share.

American Fork has been a runner-up each of the past two years and hasn’t won a state title since 1962. That goal is the priority for Madsen.

Dart has a clear path to achieve both dreams, a big reason he transferred to Corner Canyon from Roy last winter.

While Madsen, Bowles, Dart and Bolingbroke have separated themselves statistically the first six weeks, Pine View’s Brayden Bunnell isn’t far behind that pace with 21 touchdowns. If he maintains his 3.5 TD average and Pine View plays the maximum eight games he’d be right on the 50-TD bubble.