Top 20 prep football players countdown: Baron Gajkowski

I’ll publish a blog post each day unveiling the top 20 impact players in the state — in no particular order — in my unabashed opinion. All selections are entirely my own. Submit your feedback in the comment section below and I’ll respond accordingly.

Now, without further adieu:

20. Korey Rush, East. Defensive End.

19. Baron Gajkowski, Lone Peak. Quarterback.

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Lone Peak quarterback Baron Gajkowski prepares to throw against Mountain Crest.

Nitty-gritty: 6-foot-3, 217-pounds; undeclared.

Qualifications: Gajkowski is freakishly athletic behind center, and is able to extend plays out of the pocket. He’s comfortable, and for the most part accurate, throwing on the run, but occasionally exudes too much confidence in his arm (Nine INTs in 2012).

He possesses separation speed and is awfully difficult to track down once he finds a seam in the open field. Couple that with his size and strength and it isn’t too farfetched to think he’ll possibly play free safety at the next level.

Gajkowski first burst onto the scene as a sophomore with the last name we couldn’t pronounce at Jordan High. He showed glimpses of brilliance against the eventual 2011 5A state champions, and the team he now holds the fate of for the 2013 season.

After transferring to Lone Peak following the 2011 5A semifinals performance for the Beetdiggers, Gajkowski threw for 2,204 yards and 19 touchdowns in the sky and scampered for 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Those statistics only warranted honorable mention postseason honors?

Therein lies the rub.

Gajkowski encountered inconsistency throughout his junior season, and it hurt the Knights. The quarterback position is stricken with glorification and or criticism. That’s no different with Gajkowski. The Knights excel behind him and they certainly tumble with him, too.

In Gajkowski’s nine wins he was one of the top performers in the state. He averaged nearly 300 yards of total offense and slightly over three touchdowns per game. In losses against Bountiful and Pleasant Grove, he combined to go 7-for-13 for 73 yards and one touchdown and only 60 rushing yards. Add in the Bingham game — a game in which backup quarterback Braden Miles orchestrated a 14-point fourth quarter comeback — Gajkowski was 11-for-19 for 112 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions before being benched.

The 2013 season has every ingredient to be special for Gajkowski – especially considering the Knights drew Herriman and Pleasant Grove at home. If he can eliminate hiccup games, Lone Peak has enough talent to certainly win a Region 4 championship and contend deep into the postseason. The entire outcome of the season isn’t entirely on Gajkowski’s plate, but it’s imperative with the change in the coaching staff that he commands the huddle from the onset.

Email: tphibbs@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @TPhibbsDNews

9 comments

  1. adwight

    This article seems pretty biased, and the research isn’t done very well. He’s a great player that is going to lead that team in a big way. You can’t really count the Bountiful and PG games, because he only played 2 series against Bountiful and didn’t play 3/4 of the PG game due to illness. Yes he struggled against Bingham with an awful bout of Bronchitis but he came back and played brilliantly the rest of the season. Only 9 INTs in a High School season (4 in one game… so 5 the whole other 12 games) is pretty dang impressive. He’s going to be a nightmare for every team they play against.

    • Trevor Phibbs

      @adwight

      Biased in what regard? The blog, which I clarified at the beginning of the post, is strictly my opinion, and denotes the top 20 impactful players in the state. If it was biased in anyway it would actually be biased towards Gajkowski. It’s a positive post to be recognized with. You’re preaching to the choir because I completely agree that he is a great player — why else would I select him to be on the list out of all the players in the state?

      You mentioned not playing, illness and bronchitis. Those may be very accurate assessments, but only reaffirmed my argument of his importance to the Lone Peak program. In absence of his offensive production — something LP depends on —regardless of what the underlining factor may be, the Knights struggled. It’s apparent that he’s extremely important to the success of program this season.

      I think you might have misunderstood the purpose of the blog and interpreted negativity when I was praising Gajkowski.

      • adwight

        This article just seems to be different from the one wrote for Rush. His was mostly 99% positive, yet this article seemed to be about 50 percent negative. It makes it seem as if he is an inconsistent player… which he is not all. Not even mentioning that he didn’t play for the vast majority of the two games in which he was “inconsistent” doesn’t paint the right picture in my opinion. Yes their hopes rest on his performance (what teams’ wouldn’t with a player like that?) but saying he’s inconsistent is simply not the truth, in my opinion. (it is opinion after all :D)

      • Trevor Phibbs

        @adwight

        I can see your point when comparing the blog on Rush to this one. On the same token it might be apples to oranges. Rush plays on the defensive line, and not to undermine the position, but it doesn’t maintain the same stipulations attached to quarterbacks. Fair or not, as mentioned in the blog, the QB is glorified and crucified. It’s the nature of the business. In regards to labeling Gajkowski inconsistent — his play did experience peaks and valleys. That could be attributed to staying healthy, coaches deciding to move a different direction or any other ailment that might factor into several games that were well below his capabilities. Either way, I think it’s a fair assessment.

        This countdown for the majority is positively focused, but the players listed are in leadership positions, and with that often comes critique. Thanks for sharing your opinion. I appreciate your participation in the post. It’ll be interesting to see how the season pans out. Either way, I’m very excited to see Gajkowski and Lone Peak this season.

  2. UncleSam

    The best move Gajkowski ever made was getting out of Jordan High. He has been able to flourish in a culture that better suits him and his talents. He will be a major force to be reckoned with this year in high school football!

  3. Actual-Facts

    Rich…. Ouch – another example of people making stupid assumptions. While you are removing your foot from your mouth – you might want to dig a little deeper before making an off handed comment. FYI – The young man’s mother passed away more than a decade ago. Nice thoughtful comment though – Lot’s of class on your part!

    • Rich

      Holy cow another overly emotional fan from Lone Peak what a shocker! First of all the story did not mention that fact and if it had i would have substituted his mother for another family member. On a separate note I plan on making a few other comments on other news stories so if you could do a comprehensive family background check on those it would be very much appreciated. You’re a peach. Thanks.

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