On the last play of his high school football career, Fremont star Nick Vigil was tackled in the third quarter of the Class 5A state championship and never returned. His left foot was broken in two places, and the Silver Wolves fell to Lone Peak 41-21.
Though Vigil will play football again, at Utah State, his loss was felt elsewhere. Fremont boys’ basketball coach Corey Melaney concedes that the quick running back was his best defender on the court, and his services as a shutdown guard are sorely missed.
“We would love to have him back – I wouldn’t want anything more,” Melaney said. “[Not playing is] the right decision for him, though. He needs to look at the big picture.”
It was a worry early – the defending Region 1 champions went 4-4 to start the preseason, though a lot of it had to do with the Silver Wolves’ level of competition. At the Riverton Winter Invitational, Fremont played Olympus — a team currently on a six-game winning streak — and West Jordan, an arguable favorite out of 5A.
“I don’t think we had the defensive intensity I’m used to seeing,” Melaney said. “We let too many teams score too many points, and we’ve worked hard to get better.”
Fremont is a team known for its defense. Junior Jordan Preator, a 5A leader in steals at 2.2 per game, stated that he’s upset if the Silver Wolves allow their opponents to score more than 40 points — even if they win.
“That’s our goal — 10 points a quarter,” Preator said. “We take a lot of pride in our defense, and I can say whether I had a good game or not by the points my opponent scores.”
Vigil was a big part of a team that allowed 44.4 points per game last year on their way to the 5A semifinals, but this year’s squad has barely missed a beat. Fremont is allowing 46.1 so far. More importantly, since starting region play they’ve held Weber to 38 and Northridge to 42 on their way to a 3-0 start.
Fremont is second in 5A in points allowed. Only 11-3 Alta is doing better on the defensive end.
“These last few games, we’ve really buckled down,” Melaney said. “We were dedicated to defense the two previous years, and I think that’s a big part of why we won region.”
Fremont isn’t all defense, though. Two-year starter Brock Smith has been on a tear, averaging 18.6 points per game. The forward proved he could shoot the deep ball as well, hitting two 3-pointers in the Silver Wolves last win over Northridge.
“He works harder than anybody I know,” Preator said. “A lot of kids work hard, but he works hard at practice, in games, at school, in the classroom, everywhere. I’ve never seen him take a day off ever.”
The Silver Wolves’ next game may be their biggest as they travel to Davis this Friday. Fremont has won the last four matchups between the two teams, a streak dating back to February 2010.
“We love playing Davis because it’s always a tough, hard-fought game,” Preator said. “I think they’ll be looking to get a little revenge on us, so we’re not going to underestimate them.”