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.
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.