Prep football: Skyline puts faith in England
Garrett England has a way of making improbable plays look easy. It's something evident in his film.
England caught a pass off a hook route, squeezed between two defenders and sprinted down the sideline for a 50-yard gain before being tackled in last year's game against Olympus. He finished a drive with a hip-twirling touchdown catch that many high schoolers might only have brushed a finger on.
It's obvious that Skyline will be looking to get the ball in its star receiver's hands most of the time. The frustrating thing for the competition is that when England can make plays like those, it usually doesn't matter if anyone sees it coming.
"I'd put him against just about anybody in the state," said coach Steve Marlowe, who has been with the Eagles for more than a quarter-century. "He's one of the best athletes I've ever coached."
England may be held in high esteem by those who have watched him play, but the senior doesn't seem to think it makes him special. He's one of the leaders in the weight room, his teammates say, and his work ethic is what gets him respect in the locker room.
"He worked harder than anyone in the summer," quarterback Tyler Snyder said. "He knows people look up to him because he's committed to BYU, so he works hard every day."
As one of the few Division I-bound players on the roster, England doesn't come off the field much. Skyline coaches have lined him up out wide as well as at running back this year in an effort to give him the ball more. He's notched two rushing scores and a receiving touchdown and broke out a 99-yard kick return last week.
England also plays a critical role as a defensive back, where his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame can level receivers, or he can leap up to tip away passes. He already has a pick this year, and he got two interceptions despite playing only four games due to injury last season.
"[Playing both ways] does make you tired," England said. "But I know I have to step it up. I have some versatility. I can play a lot of positions. So it's kind of a call to me to step it up."
England grew up playing football with his twin brother, Grant, at recess. He's loved the sport since he first picked it up in elementary school.
Going to BYU is the fulfillment of a longtime dream. First and foremost, England says, he's a Cougars fan.
"As soon as they offered, I was all over it," he said. "It's a great program, and it fills my needs spiritually."
His career at BYU is far ahead of him, however, and he's more concerned about the legacy he leaves behind at Skyline. The Eagles have gotten out to a rocky start, falling to 1-3 in the preseason.
Snyder has been the team's main ground threat with more than 350 yards, and England has nearly 200 yards receiving thus far. But the offense has sputtered most of this year. The low point was a 30-0 shutout to Syracuse.
With the legacy Skyline football has built over the years, a tough early season can be burdensome on a team with annual high expectations.
"We had a lot of people asking what was going on after that," Snyder said. "It's pretty crazy how many people will come up to you to say something about the game. It's tough sometimes."
But Skyline has a history of shaping up the school has reached the playoffs for 27 straight seasons and the Eagles are anticipating nothing different this year. Region play begins Friday against Murray, and England and his Skyline teammates are feeling prepared to show fans something spectacular.
"We've got to show that we're not going to take plays off," England said. "Preseason is a time to learn, and now the season starts over."
When asked what else he wanted to accomplish this season, England paused for a moment. Then he smiled.
"Well I wouldn't mind beating Olympus," he said.
England a rare talent for Skyline
WR Garrett England has 20 catches for 198 yards and a score for the Eagles so far.
He also has two rushing scores and a kickoff return touchdown.
England committed over the summer to play at BYU.