PLAIN CITY — On a Fremont High football team filled with a bunch of great players, Nick Vigil is their brightest star.
And Rowdy Stucki is the unsung hero.
Vigil, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior running back, is a humble young man who's grown accustomed to being in the spotlight. After all, when you rush for over 1,200 yards and score 19 touchdowns in a season — highlighted by a 256-yard, three-TD day in a playoff victory over defending state champion Bingham — it's pretty darned hard not to be noticed.
And, at 5-foot-8 and a buck-forty-five, Stucki is the proverbial "Little Engine That Could" for these Silver Wolves, a shining example of how big — and great — things can indeed come in small packages. Whether it's as a pass receiver, kick returner or defensive back, Stucki does an awful lot to help his Fremont team be successful.
He and Vigil will play vital roles Friday when the Silver Wolves (10-2) face undefeated Lone Peak (13-0) for the 5A state championship. Kickoff time is 2:30 p.m. at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Fremont coach Kory Bosgieter feels blessed to have kids like Vigil, Stucki and so many other fine, hard-working young men in his program.
"I don't know if people, other than the guys inside these walls that come here every day and go to practice every day, realize how important Rowdy is to our team in all three phases of the game," Bosgieter said. "He's a good cover corner, he catches the ball well, he runs the ball well, he's a great returner for us, and he runs down on punt cover for us. "He's an iron man; he doesn't come off the field very often. Neither does Nick, but I think Rowdy's on the field even a little more than Nick. And they're so unselfish. They don't care who's scoring the touchdowns as long as we're scoring touchdowns.
"Nick is one of those guys that if you pass him in the halls and, if he doesn't have his contacts in, you wouldn't know that he's maybe the toughest competitor in the state. He is a fierce competitor," the Silver Wolves' coach said.
"He's the whole package. He's not just a good football player, he's a good student, a good kid. He's a very humble, high-character kid and he works hard. When your best players are among your hardest workers, you've got something special, and we've got a lot of that here." Vigil, who has verbally committed to play collegiately at Utah State University, has averaged over 6 yards per carry, more than 111 yards rushing per game and has 17 rushing touchdowns this season. He's added another 224 yards and a TD on pass receptions, and he ran an interception back 100 yards for another score.
Last week, he added another wrinkle to his repertoire when he threw the game-winning TD pass in overtime to — who else? — Stucki.
Stucki's stats are modest in comparison, and modesty is a quality that's quite common among the Silver Wolves' players. The "Little Engine" has caught 33 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns, with another 214 yards in punt returns — an average of 16.5 yards per return — and 76 more yards in kickoff returns. He's also intercepted five passes on defense.
Not bad for a guy who's somewhat small in stature but has the heart of a champion.
And now, the underdog Silver Wolves have a chance to be just that — a state champion.
Stucki's memories of this glory-filled season will last a lifetime. So, what's been the best part of it all for him? "Every day, coming out and playing with these guys and building friendships," Stucki said. "They're not just friends; it's like we're family now. "From the start of the year until now, I think we've come together more than any other year I've been here. "I've dreamed about the state championship ever since I was a little kid," he said. "It'd just be great. You want to prove that you're a little bit better than everybody thinks you are. It's going to be a challenge, but we're up for it. I'm just excited."
Like Bosgieter, Vigil has plenty of admiration for his fellow senior teammate.
"He's one of the best corners I've ever seen play," Vigil said of Stucki. "He plays great coverage, he's really smart, and you hardly ever see him drop a pass. "That catch he had in that overtime game and all that contact, that was huge. He makes big plays for us all the time."
Vigil, like Stucki and the rest of the Wolves' players and coaches, have dreamed about winning a state championship for a long time. Now, they're one more win away from turning that dream into a glorious reality.
But standing in their way is a talent-laden Lone Peak team that hasn't lost all season long, and has its own sights set on taking home that title trophy.
"I always went to the state playoff games with my Dad up at Rice-Eccles when I was younger," Vigil said. "When you're that little, you never think you're going to get a chance to play in a game like that. So when you finally do, it's something special. You'd never think that when you go watch those games when you're that age that you'd ever be playing in one.
"We know they're a great team and it's going to take our best game to beat 'em. We have to play the full game, we can't take any plays off. We're going to have to play every play the best we've played all year, and it's going to take everybody being at their best to beat these guys. We know how good they are."
But there's another pretty darned good team, the one from Fremont, that'll be taking the field on Friday afternoon, too. And if Vigil and Stucki have anything to say about it, the Wolves will be walking off that field feeling plenty proud themselves.
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