Prep football: Pine View's Kody Wilstead hopes to finish with title
St. George • In a season where great high school quarterbacks such as Jordan's Austin Kafentzis, Bingham's Kyle Gearig and Timpview's Britain Covey return, the best one of the bunch could be Pine View's Kody Wilstead.
Consider some of the numbers the 6-foot-6, 220- pound BYU commit put up as a junior when he led the Panthers to the 3AA title game.
His 4,395 passing yards ranked behind Jordan's Alex Hart as the best single season mark in Utah history. Only Hart ever recorded a better per game passing average than Wilstead, who averaged 365.83 yards a game.
What Wilstead does need to complete his fine resume is to lead Pine View to its first-ever state football championship this season.
And this is a year the lanky athlete has been looking forward to ever since he began playing organized football in third grade.
"It's so much fun," said Wilstead before a recent late-summer practice. "I have been waiting to play my senior season so long. I never thought I would play as much as I did, as young as I was. Now that it's here, I am even more excited. And to still be able to play after high school is just a huge excitement for me. It's not my last year, but I am going to play like it is my last year."
Wilstead, who passed for 36 touchdowns and completed 62 percent of his passes, also has the intelligence to operate offensive coordinator Scott Anderson's pass-happy offense. The returning Class 3AA Tribune first-team all-state quarterback carries a 3.9 grade point average.
Such accomplishments certain have captured the attention of Class 3AA coaches such as Desert Hills' Carl Franke, whose team defeated Pine View for the state title last season after losing to the Panthers during the regular season.
"He is difficult to defend," said the Thunder coach. "He has a strong arm and can see the field. He reads defenses very well and he has gotten better every year. From his mark to sideline, he is as good as any college player. When you play him, you have to cover the whole field. When he sets his feet, he has great accuracy and throws the ball with a lot of velocity."
Veteran Pine View coach Ray Hosner, who also mentored ex-BYU quarterback James Lark, identified Wilstead as a prospect in the fourth grade when he talked a coach out of moving Wilstead to wide receiver.
He likes Wilstead's maturity and intelligence.
"He knows our offense inside and out, and we don't run a simple offense," said Hosner. "Depending on coverage, our routes change. The receivers have to know it. Our receiving corps are amazing. They have played with Kody so long that they know that this is the coverage and the route we are going to run. Their timing is amazing."
Wilstead said he has played with most of Pine View's receivers who include Colton Miller, Bladen Hosner, Blake Ence, Preston Allen and Gage Afatasi since they were in sixth grade.
"Offensively, we've played with each other so long and have so much chemistry that we should be hard to stop," said Wilstead. "Most of us started playing together in sixth or seventh grade, and almost the whole team was together in eighth grade. We won the championship in eighth and ninth grade. We were unbeaten those two years."
Wilstead said Lark who, like him, took Hosner and Pine View to a state title game, only to lose, has been a mentor.
"James has been able to help me out during the offeseason," said Wilstead, who is a pro-style quarterback in a system that runs a spread offense. "I would go up there or he would come down. Any time he has been able, he has helped us out."
The quarterback comes across as a serious and mature high school senior who has set big goals for himself and put together a plan to make them happen.
He won't play basketball for the Panthers this year because he plans to graduate in December. He plans to start an LDS Church mission in January so he can be back to BYU for spring ball in two years. His said his only preference for a mission site is a place where he can eat well so he doesn't lose weight and might even put on a few pounds.
As for playing at BYU, Wilstead said his goal is to not redshirt, but be on the team for four years.
And, though he hasn't signed a letter of intent, he is dead certain he wants to be a Cougar.
"I am not one of those kids who goes against a commitment," he said. "I am going to the Y. Nothing is going to change my mind."
When Wilstead is not playing sports or studying, he said he enjoys wake boarding, surfing and tubing on nearby Quail Creek and Sand Hollow Reservoirs. He used to bowl.
He said his height helps him be a better quarterback.
"It's definitely an advantage," said Wilstead. "I worked on my accuracy a lot. Mainly, it is more your lower body than your upper body. You need to get your mechanics right for throwing. Once you get your mechanics down, you work on your lower body. It ties it all together."
Pine View plays in rugged Region 9, where teams such as Dixie and Desert Hills have both won recent state titles. Players such as Wilstead seem to have much affection for their veteran coach, Hosner, and seem determined to bring him a state title.
That may or may not happen. But one thing is certain. Expect Kody Wilstead to put up some huge numbers this year as one of Utah's top prep quarterback prospects.
Kody Wilstead file
• Threw for 4,395 yards and 36 touchdowns on 62 percent passing last season.
• 2013 Class 3AA All-State first-team quarterback.
• Has a 3.9 GPA.
• Has committed to BYU, but will start an LDS Church mission in January 2015.
Among the best
Kody Wilstead's 4,395 passing yards in 2013 are the second-highest single-season total in Utah prep history behind Jordan's Alex Hart, who threw for 4,442 in 2009. His 365.83 yards-per-game average is also second in history only to Hart (370.17).
Prep football preview
In Sunday's paper, The Tribune will present a complete preview of this season's high school football.