ST. GEORGE — It wasn’t that long ago that it was a big deal if southern Utah had one football player earn a Division I scholarship. Now, with credit to the local players, programs and coaches in Region 9, football scholarships from just about every school have become the norm.
Fifteen players from the region signed to play college football on Wednesday’s National Letter of Intent Day, with an outstanding eight of those going to Division I programs across the West.
BYU signees Kody Wilstead, from Pine View, and Jeremiah Ieremia, from Hurricane, headline the signing day for the local teams. Wilstead, who is leaving for an LDS Mission to Argentina in April, has been named the top passer in several national football camps and will return from his mission in hopes of becoming another great in BYU’s long line of nationally acclaimed passers. Ieremia, a linebacker and fullback, will likely stick with defense for the Cougars after his LDS Mission.
He led Hurricane in tackles in 2013 and 2014.
Desert Hills safety Gabe Sewell will take his extreme athleticism to Nevada to play in the Mountain West Conference. Sewell, whose younger
brother Nephi is a sophomore this year at D-Hills, is known for his “Troy Polumalu” style of physical play in the defensive backfield. He led the Thunder to the 2013 state championship and the state semifinals last fall.
Pine View’s Gage Afatasi signed to play at Utah and hopes to make an impact at the U at linebacker.
The other Division I signees are all heading to FCS teams, with Wilstead’s Panther teammates Harrison Goebel going to Northern Arizona and Ray Fiame and Bladen Hosner both heading to Southern Utah. Lausii “Boogie” Sewell, a defensive teammate of Gabe Sewell (and cousin, as well), chose Weber State after originally verbally committing to the Pac-12’s Colorado. Boogie Sewell is a 300-pound defensive lineman who is a nightmare to block.
Bridger Cowdin, one of the top running backs in the state of Utah in 2013 and 2014, will join former rivals Fiame and Hosner at Southern Utah. Cowdin rushed for 1,654 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and had 1,107 yards and 13 TDs in the Thunder’s state championship season in 2013.
Dixie State also landed its share of local talent as the Division II school signed a Panther in DB Blake Ence, a Snow Canyon Warrior in TE Chance Thorkleson and three Dixie Flyers in QB Ammon Takau, DB RJ Wilgar and WR/PK McLane Keenan.
Ence will be the fourth member of his family to play at Dixie State, along with older brothers Skyler, Jesse and Justin.
Takau is a dual-threat QB who led Dixie High to the state title this season, passing for 2,422 yards and 28 TDs and rushing for 691 yards and eight TDs on the year. Wilgar hopes to play on the football team as a safety and the basketball team as a point guard at DSU. Keenan had eight field goals and score 89 points as a placekicker last fall and also had 32 receptions for the state champion Flyers.
Hurricane linebacker Charlie Sefita will go the junior college route, electing to play at Snow College next season.
One other note: Former Pine View Panther Thor Katoa, who led the Panthers in tackles in 2014, has decided to de-commit from Utah and will got to Pac-12 rival Oregon State.
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