By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography), Shane Marshall & Kurt Johnson
Picking the top anything of the year is never an easy proposition, and as we complete our third list of top Utah high school sports stories of the year for Preps Utah, we found that this list is no exception.
For the 2013-2014 school year, we released our Top 20 stories of the year, but this year, we have expanded our list to 25 stories, some of which combine multiple events that share common themes. Since the goal is not to be exactly right, as anything of this nature is entirely subjective, but to recognize as many of the great accomplishments of the student athletes across the state as we can, we hope you will understand.
We started this on July 13 and it took a little longer than we anticipated (about a month in total), as we released one or two items on our list each day, counting down from No. 25 and working our way up to story No. 1, which is where we are today….the Preps Utah top story of the 2014-2015 school sports year.
#1 – End of three eras
One thing about high schools sports – coaches come and they go. Then there are those special situations in which coaches stay around for a long time and establish legacies of greatness.
The end of the 2014-2015 high school sports year in Utah saw the end of three amazing coaching runs, and those coaches’ decisions to move on is our No. 1 story of the year. One of them had been a fixture as a basketball coaching in this state for more than a quarter century and the other two were at the top of their game even now, as they step away.
The coaches are Provo boys basketball coach Craig Drury, Lone Peak boys basketball coach Quincy Lewis and Dave Peck, the head man with Bingham football.
32 years, 8 state titles
Craig Drury was the head coach at Provo High for 32 years, a span during which his teams won eight state championships, a state record for coaching success. The Bulldogs under Drury won titles in three different decades (1985, 1987, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2008) and turned out numerous collegiate players.
Drury accumulated 546 wins over those 32 seasons, the fourth best total in state history. Although his final team was not a state championship caliber squad, it was fitting that the 2015 Bulldogs reached the state tournament, giving the coach one final chance to coach on the big stage as he rides off into the sunset.
A man who has spent a lot of time around the program teaching future Bulldog varsity stars the game, Don Johnson, is next up at the state’s most decorated program.
Decade plus of dominance
If he hadn’t chosen to leave Lone Peak after an incredible 12-year run, Quincy Lewis would certainly have blown past Drury in the state championship record books. As it is, in a dozen years at the helm of the Knights, Lewis’ teams won seven state titles, including four straight from 2011 through 2014.
An upset loss to Viewmont in the 2015 quarterfinals brought that run to an end, but the overall record is too impressive to ignore. Lewis got Lone Peak and Utah high school basketball on the national radar.
In his 12 years at Lone Peak, Lewis turned the Knights into a national powerhouse. In addition to the state championships, Lewis led Lone Peak to 10 region titles and an overall record of 250–45.
The 2013 Knights finished 26-1 and were named national champions by MaxPreps, who also honored Lewis as that year’s national coach of the year honor.
During that four-year title run that began in 2011, Lewis’ teams record was 95-8. That would be impressive anywhere, but the Knights did it while traveling from coast to coast to play all comers. Lone Peak played some of the nation’s top teams and beat schools that included players like Aaron Gordon and Jahlil Okafor. So far, 22 players who played for Lewis through that 12-year run have gone on to play college basketball, and with players like Frank Jackson and Christian Popoola remaining behind, there will be more added to that list.
It’s not like Lewis is going far. His program had become somewhat of a pipeline, feeding talent to Brigham Young University, much as Drury’s Provo teams have done over the years. Lewis is headed to BYU as an assistant coach, where he will once again work with a number of his former high school players, including Nate Austin and Nick Emery on the 2015-2016 squad. Two more former Knights, Eric Mika and TJ Haws are currently on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are scheduled to return for the 2016-2017 campaign.
As Lewis moves on, Lone Peak will turn the program over to David Evans, a former BYU-Hawaii player and coach, who has been playing professionally in international leagues for many years. To Evans goes the opportunity to keep the Knights on top.
When Bingham High football coach Dave Peck walked out of Rice-Eccles Stadium Nov. 21 after he led the Miners to their second straight state championship and their fifth overall, he knew it would be the last time. Or at least he thought it could be.
The organizers of the Burger King State Championship Bowl allowed the coach to extend his stay on the Bingham sidelines for one more game. He coached the Miners as they lost in overtime to the No. 3 ranked team in the nation, Booker T. Washington (Miami), in that Dec. 27 bowl game in Boca Raton, Florida.
The numbers speak for themselves. In his 15-year run with the Miners, Peck’s teams compiled an overall record of 154-38, with 10 region championships and those five state titles. He has been a high school football coach for 31 years and a head coach for 21 (including stints at Cyprus and North Sanpete), and his career coaching record is 181-71.
Peck and Lewis have a great deal in common. Bingham is the team that is most responsible for putting Utah high school football on the national map and Peck was at the center of that. He took his team to play powerhouse teams in Texas, California, Colorado, Nevada and Florida and with each contest, the Miners got better and better.
Perhaps that nationally televised bowl game in December was the most fitting way for Peck to close out his run on the Bingham sidelines. The coach took full advantage of every opportunity to advance the cause of Utah high school football nationally and to put not just his Bingham players, but all of the state’s top athletes in the spotlight.
He takes great pride in the successes of his annual trips to Las Vegas with a team of top players from schools all over the state to participate in a prestigious 7-on-7 tournament. That team, which practices just a couple of times before the tournament and then plays against a collection of dozens of teams who play together regularly, is a regular participant in the event’s semifinals and finals.
Peck feels that he is leaving Bingham at the right time, as a team in position to continue in the championship hunt for the foreseeable future under the capable direction of his offensive coordinator and friend, John Lambourne.
There were a lot of great stories all over the state of Utah during the 2014-2015 school year, but as we looked at them all, this one stood out. Three coaches who have had great success on the scoreboard for significant periods of time, but who, more importantly, have shaped the lives of hundreds of fantastic young men all going out at the same time. It’s our top story of the year.
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