High school football: Lone Peak coach Mike Mower proud of Knights' no-quit attitude
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — With just four minutes left in regulation of his team's 5A semifinal contest against Bingham, and the outcome long since decided, Lone Peak quarterback Baron Gajkowski capped off an 80-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.
The senior then bounced off toward the sideline and celebrated with his team despite being down 48-13, with the end of his team's season, and his prep career, only minutes away.
Though the touchdown proved irrelevant in the game’s final outcome, it seemed to typify Lone Peak’s no-quit attitude.
“This team doesn’t know how to quit,” said Lone Peak coach Mike Mower. “There were a lot of times this season when we could have packed it in, but we kept on fighting and even though this loss is tough, I couldn’t be more proud of what these kids accomplished this season. They simply don't know how to quit and I'll keep them — every single one of them.”
Playing at Rice-Eccles Stadium in November is a huge accomplishment for any team, but especially for this year’s Lone Peak team.
Untimely injuries, a slow start in region play, and some significant coaching changes all conspired to hold the Knights down. The players would have none of it, however, and overcame most everything thrown their way.
“This team has so much character and although we’re all disappointed with this outcome, we’ll look back and understand that what we accomplished this year was something great,” Mower said. “It’s not easy fighting through injuries, getting used to new coaches and that start we had — that’s not easy. But these kids, I’m just so sincerely proud of every single one of them.”
Unfortunately for Lone Peak, it simply ran into the Bingham buzz saw Friday night. The Miners entered the game playing at a high level, but Mower believes he got the very best 5A's top-ranked squad had to offer.
“That team played exceptional tonight — better than what we thought they’d be and we thought quite a bit of them leading up to the game,” Mower said. “Coach (Dave) Peck is as good a coach as there is and he had those kids playing like they haven’t played all season. We just couldn’t match it and probably didn’t play as well as we could have.”
This was Lone Peak’s fourth-straight year making it to Rice-Eccles Stadium, and Mower aims to return very soon.
“We’ll be back and we’ll be stronger,” Mower said. “We lose some great kids — kids like Baron Gajkowski, who is truly one of the most exceptional kids I’ve not only coached, but simply been around. We have great kids back though and I’ll keep them — every single one of them.”