By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography) & Kurt Johnson
The candidates for the Preps Utah/Rocky Mountain Power male athlete of the year make up a very impressive list. This year’s crop of multi-sport athletes includes top performers Porter Gustin of Salem Hills, Osa Masina from Brighton, Hunter’s Noah Togiai, Jason Money of Spanish Fork, Jaren Hall of Maple Mountain, Timpview’s Britain Covey and Kody Wilstead of Pine View.
With all of those impressive athletes on the watch list all year long, we looked at a combination of individual accomplishment in more than one sport and team results, and after much deliberation, we went with the final athlete who spent the season on our watchlist – Bingham’s Kade Cloward.
Gustin and Masina are united now on the football field at USC and both were dominant players on really good football teams. Masina also had a strong basketball season, while Gustin put up some great numbers on the court before showing his four-sport versatility as a relief pitcher on the Skyhawk baseball team and javelin-thrower with the track team.
It appears that Togiai will play both football and basketball at Oregon State. Money excelled in three sports, including a key role with the state championship Spanish Fork baseball team and Hall was a top three-sport performer who will return next year as the top name on the watch list at the beginning.
The deciding factor in the end was Cloward’s role as a leader on a Bingham High football state championship defense, whose head coach, Dave Peck called him the “best athlete at the school,” (at Bingham, that’s saying a lot) and his role as one of the most outstanding players in the state on a Miner baseball team that was one win away from its own state title.
Cloward was first-team all-state in both sports, and while college recruiters may have shied away from his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame, his teammates and coaches looked to him for championship-level leadership. The next beneficiary of those qualities from Cloward will be Dixie State, where he will play baseball starting next season, but Coach Peck believes he would have made a difference with either sport, anywhere.
“Nobody’s even looking at him,” Peck said. “I don’t care where he’s at, if you bring Kade Cloward in, he’s eventually going to get on the field because he’s just making plays.”
As a defensive back, Cloward was a major reason for the amazing success the Miners had in winning the last two state football titles. The only losses over those two campaigns came against a pair of out-of-state national powers – Bishop Gorman in an early-season 2014 game and Booker T. Washington in a national game played last December in Florida.
Cloward had 97 tackles, intercepted five passes and had 257 punt-return yards in 2014. He scored four touchdowns, two on picks and two more in the return game. Those statistics are nice, but his intangibles on the gridiron were off the charts.
Once the spring rolled around, Cloward was even better on the diamond, where he batted .456, with 52 hits, 36 runs scored and 24 stolen bases hitting in the lead-off spot for the 30-4 Miners. The shortstop also drove in 20 runs despite batting at the top of the order and he was one of the state’s best defensive infielders.
Championship-level play gave Cloward just a slight edge over so many other deserving candidates for the Rocky Mountain Power male athlete of the year award, an honor we couldn’t have gone wrong with if selecting any of five or six outstanding athletes. Of course, we would never convince everyone that we are right either, no matter who we chose.
Kade Cloward raised the level with Bingham High athletics and for that, Preps Utah recognizes him as the year’s top male athlete.