By Tanner White
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography) & Kurt Johnson
When you walk into the field house at Lone Peak High School, you are met with freshly waxed wood floors, bright lights and seemingly endless shields representing state championships and, for that matter, national championships.
In case you forget about those, just walk out into the hallway where you see a trophy case that will soon need to be expanded. Yes, there are expectations at Lone Peak, and none of them ask for underachieving, especially at the position of quarterback of the football team.
Talmage Gunther is the current occupant of that position at Lone Peak and the senior has thrived. But that wasn’t always the case for the star quarterback of a team that rolled through and undefeated 5A regular season.
For most of the summer, it was a toss-up between Gunther and Dakota Hansen, the younger brother of the last quarterback to lead the Knights to a state championship, Chase.
“There was a decision to make at the beginning of the season,” Gunther said. “We both had really good summers, we both put in work, and, I mean, it was tough at that point.”
The situation could not have come out better. “TG3” has been compared to former Lone Peak quarterbacks Hansen and Baron Gajkowski. Through the team’s win over Roy in the state quarterfinal, Gunther had 1,917 yards passing, 745 yards rushing and 37 total touchdowns while leading one of the most productive offenses in the state.
It’s a pace that has Lone Peak in gear to face-off against any team that comes its way in the playoffs. A lot of it has hinged on the play of Gunther, but that’s not necessarily where he gives the credit. That goes to the players around him.
Beyond football, Gunther also plays a key role for the nationally prominent Lone Peak basketball team. Stacked on top of that, he is enrolled in several AP classes and is a great student, finds time for church and family and is the most team-oriented person you could ever meet.
“He really is a team player and there’s no question about it, head coach Mike Mower told The Deseret News. “He wants to do a great job individually, but his desire to do that job is only to help the team as much as possible”.
Gunther has a pretty simple process as a team leader.
“I just try to…be the best I can,” Gunther said. “I just like to talk to people and have fun. I’m always talking, giving high fives, and have a smile on my face is what I try to do.”
The senior has goals that go beyond the football field or the basketball court. The goal of the high school athlete regardless of sport, position on a team, or school, is the state championship. But the dual-sport athlete wants a lot more out of his high school athletic experience.
“My goals aren’t statistical goals or anything like that because that is play calling and playing time,” Gunther said. “Besides (the) state championship, which is pretty general, our goal is to inspire…we want to inspire by not just being the guy out there playing on Friday nights, but making the right decisions and doing the right things in the hallways and being kind. Just not focusing on football, but more everything.”
When asked who he would compare his game to, Gunther went with an NFL quarterback who is making a difference early in his career.
“Russell Wilson,” he said. “I love the way he plays and the way he carries himself off the field and is more of a role model.”
Gunther brings both perspective and a selfless attitude to the Lone Peak football team this year.
“The biggest change from last year to this year is just that we are all here for each other,” Gunther said. “It’s a lot more together. This team is more united.”
Maybe a lot of that new-found unity has something to do with the attitude Gunther carries in his own values and as a side-effect, it has resulted in a special season.
This is a Lone Peak football team to believe in and the Knights have had a special season. It is a group with the talent to live up to all of those expectations that you see Lone Peak teams have.
You should also believe in the quarterback who decides to sacrifice hours of sleep for AP class homework, the quarterback who says “(It’s) not necessarily the stats or the yards per game, it’s all about relationships and experiences.”
This is a quarterback who pushes his whole team to dominating victories. The Knights will be a tough out in the postseason, and regardless the final outcome, watch the example Talmage Gunther sets as a quarterback and beyond.