Plain City • About 15 plays into Fremont’s season opener last Friday, Jordan Preator walked off the field. Three weeks and a day into his rehab for a hamstring tear, it turned out, wasn’t enough time to heal.
That left the Silver Wolves — 5A’s runner-up in each of the past two seasons — without not only an All-State safety, but without a change-of-pace quarterback who was their most dynamic offensive threat. And it left senior quarterback Garrett Gallegos, playing in his first-ever varsity game, with the full burden of guiding the offense.
Pressure on for Fremont quarterback
All-State safety and dual-threat quarterback Jordan Preator is still rehabbing a hamstring tear.
Preator’s absence places a heavier onus on Garrett Gallegos, now under center for the two-time 5A runner-up.
Gallegos struggled in his first varsity game, throwing two picks against 5A favorite Jordan.
"It became real that I would have to step up and put the offense on my shoulders," Gallegos says. "Try and be the best leader that I can be, knowing it was only gonna be me now."
He said his nerves went away after the team ran through its pregame warm-ups, but Gallegos still struggled in his first start — a 53-12 loss to Jordan. Debuting against a 5A favorite didn’t help a high schooler still adjusting from junior varsity’s slower pace. Gallegos threw a pick on his very first drive, a badly forced pass that was nowhere near intended his intended target, 6-foot-2 tight end Christian Fehr. The Beetdiggers scored on their first four trips down the field.
Meanwhile, Preator — the only person on the roster who played in both of the last two championship losses — could only stand and watch, an ice pack strapped to his left leg for the majority of the first half.
"Definitely one of the most frustrating things in a long time," Preator says. "I just want to be out there helping my team out."
Preator isn’t sure how long he’ll be sidelined. His hamstring tear was supposed to keep him off the field for three to four weeks, but that only meant getting back to 75 or 90 percent. He says he feels fine changing directions, but feels pain when he tries to accelerate to full speed.
He’s confident, however, in Gallegos’ ability to fill in for graduated senior Cooper Kelley: "I’d say they’re the same style quarterback." The game was out of hand when Gallegos was subbed out in the third quarter, leaving him with 118 yards on 17-of-32 passing.
He balanced two touchdowns with two interceptions, his best moment coming on a 20-yard touchdown strike to Fehr.
If Gallegos feels pressure taking the reins after two straight championship appearances, he isn’t saying so.
"That was great that we got there, but we’ve got a lot of people coming up that haven’t started," he says. "It’s a good chance for us to come on and see if we can write our own story."
Can the Silver Wolves somehow make it back to the final game of the prep football season? Well, they tripped up against Jordan to open the last two seasons as well — albeit by far smaller margins — and did just fine down the line. It’s not enough to rationalize a return to the top of 5A in what could be a rebuilding year, but it provides room for hope.
"We’ve lost the last two years and we’ve still done really good," Preator says. "One game doesn’t write the whole season."
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