While many of Pine View's key players on offense are juniors and will make another run at a Class 3AA state title next season, quarterback Kody Wilstead was thinking about those one class older than him after a heartbreaking 27-21 loss to Desert Hills on the final play Friday.
And also thinking about the future as well.
"We're gonna come back next year and come out fighting," Wilstead said. "What we're going to miss is the leadership from the seniors this year. They're amazing leaders, and I can only hope we'll be close to the kind of leaders they are."
Wilstead took one step toward that goal with some self-analysis after the defeat at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
A strong, swirling wind increased steadily toward the end of the game and could be cited as a major factor in Wilstead's four interceptions. That particularly seemed the case on a pick by Desert Hills' Jordan Hokanson that set up the Thunder's game-winning drive in the final minutes.
But the 6-foot, 5-inch Wilstead refused to blame the conditions.
"I was trying to make plays I shouldn't have been trying to make," he said. "I was trying to do it, and it was my fault. I feel bad because I could have gone out and played better for the seniors. I threw four interceptions. That's not me."
Wilstead finished the 2013 campaign with a whopping 4,722 yards passing.
And he'll be back for the 2014 season, along with the Panthers' leading rusher in the championship game (Pano Tiatia) and Pine View receiver Colton Miller, who caught nine passes for 114 yards in the title game.
"He is not the only player on the team," Pine View coach Ray Hosner said about WIlstead. "We gave up 14 points in the last 10 minutes of the game. Obviously we had played well defensively, and you wait until the last moments to let down.
"Up 21-14 with 10 minutes left in the game, you're feeling pretty good. You just have to keep executing."
Wilstead wasn't just thinking about the senior leaders on the team post-game after the Panthers fell to 0-5 in state title games.
"We're going to come and give coach Hosner a championship," Wilstead said.