Football has given us all a platform to do good things because we all want to be remembered as good young men. —American Fork's Bronson Barron
OREM — The night was as much a symbolic closing of one door and opening another — with high school graduation and the life beyond closing in — as it was about honoring 12 Utah high school football players Tuesday.
In that sense, American Fork High quarterback Bronson Barron summed up the evening perfectly during the 24th annual banquet for the Utah chapter of the National Football Foundation at UVU’s UCCU Center.
“Football has given us all a platform to do good things because we all want to be remembered as good young men,” said Barron, who delivered the scholar-leader athlete response at the banquet. “Not everyone’s going to remember our stats, our wins or our losses, but they’ll remember our character and the integrity we have as young men.”
With coaching staffs from each of the state's college teams in attendance, 12 high school football players were recognized as scholar-leader athletes by the Utah chapter of the National Football Foundation. Each received a $2,000 scholarship from the NFF and the College Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s a privilege and honor to be up here representing these 11 athletes behind me. They’re not just great football players, though. They’re great leaders for their teams, they’re great students and you got to hear everything that they do in their communities,” Barron said.
The other honorees included Kanab tight end/linebacker Parker Collins, Delta offensive/defensive lineman Chase Fowles, Juan Diego quarterback Zachary Hoffman, Lehi tight end/linebacker Dallin Holker, Orem defensive end/tight end Austin Kirkby, Union running back/linebacker Jarom Miller, Morgan offensive lineman/punter Dillon Petty, Corner Canyon defensive end Mike Petty, Viewmont punter/kicker Preston Pitt, Kearns running back Sese Felila Jr. and Juab running back/linebacker Alex White.
In addition to the high school athletes, former BYU safety Daniel Sorensen was honored with the Distinguished American Award, while former coach Paul Tidwell was given the Contribution to Amateur Football Award. Longtime coach Mike Favero and official Scott N. Maxfield were honored with the Outstanding Service to High School Football Award as well.
Barron will be one of the players moving on to the next level, as he signed with Weber State, one of two quarterbacks to ink with the Wildcats in their 2018 recruiting class.
As a senior, he threw for 3,257 yards and 44 touchdowns and earned Deseret News 6A first-team all-state honors, leading American Fork to the 6A quarterfinals. That came one year after he guided the Cavemen to the 5A state semifinals. In all, Barron threw for 6,459 yards and 70 touchdowns, against just 25 interceptions, in his high school career.
Family played a key role for the American Fork quarterback, as he said he benefited from having a father as a coach growing up. That started with a little coaxing of his father that Barron was ready to play.
“I wanted to play football in the first grade. That didn’t happen. I kept working on my dad. ‘Dad, let me play, let me play.’ Finally I was able to start in fourth grade,” Barron said.
“Something that he instilled in my head was hard work. I’d practice with the team and then we’d be driving home from practice and I’d be like, ‘Sweet, I can go home, go eat.’ Little did I know I would have an extra hour to hour and a half practice with my family and have all my siblings out there, my mom out there snapping it for me, my sisters running routes and my dad being a receiver.”
Barron also credited football for allowing those who play it an avenue to accept a challenge and conquer it, not only on the football field but in life.
"At AF, we talk a lot about loving our teammates, the process and the challenge. Not only is that applicable to football but it’s applicable to life," Barron said. "There’s going to be a lot of times in life where people around us are going to have a hard time, but if we love them, if we love the challenges thrown in our way, we love the process, we’re going to be successful."