National Signing Day: Achieving the dream for Utah prep football stars
Woods Cross Â• There they sat, two best friends reading over those timeless words in letters that ensured their future on the football field and guaranteed a spot in a college classroom.
The Bartons and Mokofisis hail from the same neighborhood. Sons Sean and Filipo grew up playing club basketball together, sprinting up and down the court while always looking for each other. When that relationship transitioned to the grass, they always knew where the other would be.
Their evolving relationship eventually would lead the Woods Cross Wildcats to statewide relevance. Barton and Mokofisi were the heart and soul of a Wildcat team that eradicated a 23-year-long losing streak to rival Bountiful on a rainy October 2012 night.
The duo officially put an end to one era and started another Wednesday afternoon.
Barton, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker, signed his National Letter of Intent to play football for the Stanford Cardinal. Mokofisi, a 6-3, 210-pound fellow linebacker, followed in his father's footsteps, signing to play at the University of Utah.
"They stayed together," Filipo Mokofisi Sr. said, "and they built something here."
Barton wore a smile along with a Stanford T-shirt and cap. Mokofisi, a lei hanging around his neck, grinned for the several flashes from various cameras as he put his signature on that piece of paper, making the long-talked-about signing official.
The two peeked up at each other and gave an obligatory fist bump just before signing.
"I've had several pinch-me moments today," said Barton, who is slated to leave on his LDS Church mission to Benin (West Africa) on June 12, five days after the Woods Cross graduation. "It's been surreal."
Same goes for Carl Barton.
When asked if he thought this day had a chance to be reality back when Sean and Filipo Jr. were forging their relationship on the basketball court, the elder Barton chuckled and said, "Heavens no."
Mokofisi said he didn't imagine it either. He said the friendship he and Barton fashioned from sports is "a great accomplishment," adding that the pair helped one another get to where they only dreamed about a few years ago.
"I'm going to miss his heart," Mokofisi said. "I'm going to miss his ability to play the game of football. That's what I'm going to miss about him."
Now the two will go their separate ways.
While Barton is on his mission in West Africa, Mokofisi will be another freshman trying to climb up the defensive depth chart at outside linebacker. Even more foreign than the pair not playing on the same team is the fact they'll be opponents in the Pac-12.
And when that day comes, whether it be in Salt Lake City or Palo Alto, Calif., the kids who helped rebuild the Woods Cross program will plant and pivot in the same turf, but they will be representing different universities and communities.
"It's good to leave a legacy and be remembered," Barton said.
Which shouldn't be a problem.
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