Two were linemen, two were running backs and another was a record-setting quarterback, but regardless of which side of the ball they contributed to, the 2011 Deseret News football MVPs did so in dominant fashion.
They were just as dynamic with their leadership qualities on and off the field, and for all but one the result was a championship season.
Fremont's Nick Vigil, Logan's D.J. Nelson, Hurricane's Brian Scott, Manti's Aaron Austad and Duchesne's Max Lewis led their teams to a combined 53-4 record this year and are deserving recipients of the Deseret News MVP awards.
Nick Vigil, Fremont
A question Fremont coach Kory Bosgieter heard a lot over the past three years was, "Why is Nick Vigil so good?"
Bosgieter said it's pretty simple, "He's a fierce, fierce competitor."
That competitiveness is a big reason Fremont advanced to the 5A state championship game the past two years. It's a big reason why Vigil finished his Fremont career with 602 carries, 3,653 yards and 45 touchdowns. It's a big reason why he's verbally committed to Utah State, and it's a big reason he still wanted to play defense on a broken foot in the championship game last month.
Before injuring himself in the second half against Lone Peak, Vigil had rushed for 83 yards on 12 carries, including a zig-zagging 55-yard touchdown run.
Two weeks earlier in a 27-20 quarterfinal victory over Bingham, Vigil rushed for 256 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-winning 80-yard TD in the waning minutes.
Nobody was surprised.
"There's times in practice we just look at each other and scratch our heads. There's very few practices where there's not a highlight run in the practice," said Bosgieter.
Vigil was a very good north-south runner, but unlike most downhill runners he could also make defenders miss up close.
"He's got a good step out of the shuffle cut," said Bosgieter.
Vigil got off to a bit of a slow start this year, but by Week 5 he started to hit his stride and finished his senior year with 1,309 yards and 19 touchdowns.
"He's just a good all-around person. What you see on the football field is just a continuation of how he conducts his life. He's a top-notch kid in everything he does," said Bosgieter.
D.J. Nelson, Logan
Six years ago Logan quarterback Riley Nelson put together arguably the greatest offensive season in the history of high school football.
This year, his little brother nearly one-upped him.
Senior D.J. Nelson enjoyed a record-breaking season like his brother in leading Logan to a 14-0 record and a 4A state championship.
"D.J. was most importantly a fierce competitor that had a burning desire to win and would do anything it took to win, and that's what you're looking for in a quarterback," said Logan coach Mike Favero.
Nelson finished the year completing 63 percent of his passes for 3,489 yards and 49 touchdowns. He added 1,605 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns.
His 606 yards of total offense in a 59-30 semifinal victory over Bountiful is a new state record. His 5,096 yards of total offense is the second most in state history behind only his big brother. Nelson's 49 touchdown passes and 73 TDs responsible for (passing and rushing) are also second all-time.
"He could beat you both running as well as throwing the ball, and I think all defensive coordinators will tell you that's the most difficult player to defend," said Favero.
Nelson had a winner's mentality that you simply can't coach.
In Logan's 18-11 championship victory over East, Nelson was bottled up nearly the entire game. Late in the game though, when plays needed to be made, Nelson delivered, including the game-winning 40-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds remaining.
"Great quarterbacks are measured by winning games and most importantly winning championships, and the way to establish yourself as one of the truly greats is to win a championship," said Favero.
Nelson has verbally committed to Utah State, and at 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds, many wonder if he's big enough to succeed. He's tough enough to get the job done, and he's proved people wrong all year.
Brian Scott, Hurricane
Despite great players and great teams the past few years, Hurricane could never quite summit the 3A mountain.
Fullback Brian Scott was a man on a mission to halt that frustration.
"If your best players are your hardest workers then you have something special, and that's what we had this year," said Hurricane coach Chris Homer.
Scott wasn't the only player who falls into the mold, but certainly was the most dominating. The 220-pound bruiser carried the ball 210 times for 1,638 yards and 31 touchdowns.
In Hurricane's 38-35 semifinal win over Spanish Fork, he carried it 36 times for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Despite suffering through an extremely painful shin injury the following week in the championship, Scott gutted it out with 26 carries, 108 yards and all three of his team's touchdowns in the 21-0 victory.
Scott sat out an entire series in the third quarter dealing with the pain, but he was a beast in the fourth quarter rushing for two of those scores.
"He just does whatever we ask him to do, that's what's made him special," said Homer. "He's just a blue collar, humble kid who doesn't get caught up in the hype."
A two-time state champion wrestler, Scott's balance and strength made it nearly impossible for anyone to bring him down one-on-one.
In more of a secondary role as a junior, Scott rushed for more than 800 yards and finished his career with an impressive 2,573 yards and 40 touchdowns.
"You can't say enough good things about Brian. He's a good boy, a good football player and good in everything he does," said Homer.
Aaron Austad, Manti
Some guys talk the talk about being team guys, while others walk the walk. The latter definitely applies to Manti senior lineman Aaron Austad.
When Manti's starting tight end broke his leg in the second week of the season, the coaching staff believed moving Austad — arguably the team's best offensive lineman — from tackle to tight end was the best fit for the team.
For the most part, it wasn't that big a difference as he became a second tackle on the strong side, but coach Cole Meacham said the way Austad handled the situation served as a great example to the entire team.
"The thing that was so impressive, there were some sets when he wasn't in and we'd put more receiver types in, and in his mind he had to know he was our best offensive lineman, but there wasn't a word of complaint from him," said Meacham. "He'd absolutely do anything he was asked and the other kids saw that."
If sitting out a play or two was the best thing for Manti, the 240-pound star lineman was happy to oblige.
It also kept him fresh defensively, which is where he was truly at his best in 2011.
The defensive end led Manti to the 2A state title by racking up a team-high 84 tackles and a team-high six sacks.
"Teams had a bear of a time blocking him, even with the double team," said Meacham, who said Austad's ability to cover the wide side of the field was just as impressive as his ability to beat two linemen on a pass rush.
Max Lewis, Duchesne
Over the course of the 2011 season, Duchesne put together one of the most dominant offensive and defensive displays in 1A in recent memory.
Offensively, the team rushed for 3,853 yards and 54 touchdowns in averaging 42.3 ppg. On the other side of the ball the Eagles were a stingy bunch that only allowed 8.6 ppg.
While standouts like Braiden Despain, Macoy Young and Shiaba Allen grabbed most of the headlines for their offensive exploits, lineman Max Lewis was the unsung hero that helped make it all possible.
"Offensive side, he was the reason those guys were blowing those holes open. He's not only making that block, but he's getting downfield and making more blocks," said Duchesne coach Billy Hoopes. "He worked the hardest out of anybody there, and he never got that much credit."
Lewis' emergence as one of the best players in 1A is a credit to his tremendous work ethic.
As a sophomore, Lewis was a middle-of-the-pack football player in his age group. He refused to be average though and just kept working his tail off. The result was a state championship in football this year, in addition to individual state titles in wrestling and the shot put last school year.
"What you see is what you get. He's a hard worker and a pretty quiet guy," said Hoopes.
In addition to being a great offensive tackle, Lewis was a great defensive tackle as well, recording 57 tackles and 7.5 sacks.
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