As Cammon Cooper’s teammates raced across the field to thank their fans, the Lehi High School quarterback was swarmed by reporters.
As one scrum disintegrated, another formed. It wasn’t until he stepped on the bus that Cooper was able to soak in the Class 5A state championship victory with his teammates.
“That was really special,” he said. “We had a police escort through like all of Lehi, and people were coming out of their houses and stuff, waving at us, and honking and everything.”
The attention, media and otherwise, ramped up Cooper’s senior year as this season’s Tribune Player of the Year set nine state records on Lehi’s way to a state title. But that didn’t shake the Washington State commit’s levelheaded approach to the game.
“Despite all the publicity or all the hoopla around him, he’s still the most down-to-earth kid you’ll meet,” his mother, Tara Cooper, said. “You have teachers [at] the high school or other coaches at the high school that will come up and tell me he’s still just the same good kid walking down the hallway and saying hi to everyone. This hasn’t changed him. It hasn’t gotten to his head.”
Cammon Cooper has had the same steady demeanor on the field since the beginning of his high school career. Tara distinctly remembers Cammon’s varsity debut, which came against American Fork in October of his freshman year.
Cooper only took a few snaps in the 35-14 loss, but Tara could feel the significance of the moment. She looked down from the stands and tried to imagine what was going on in her son’s head as he strode onto the field.
“He just went out there just calm, cool, collected,” she said.
Cammon went on to start at quarterback the next season. The Pioneers missed the playoffs during his first season behind center but made it to the state quarterfinals the following year.
“It would have been nice to have a little more success earlier in my career,” he said, “but I feel like it all really paid off, and I got all that I can really do done.”
Attempts? Tied for first with West Jordan’s 2010 quarterback Michael Moorehead.
When Cooper finally connected with tight end Dallin Holker in the end zone to finish a four-hour marathon game, he had completed 45 of 74 pass attempts for 648 yards and 10 touchdowns.
That game set the tone for Cooper’s season, where he checked off one passing record after another.
“I’d say he’s the best QB in the nation,” said Cameron Latu, who signed with Alabama this week and faced Cooper in a 33-3 Olympus loss at Lehi this year. “All I wanted was a sack on him, and I got one, which I was pretty happy about, but they destroyed us. But he’s just an amazing QB. I’m glad I’m close with him. He’s going to do great things at Washington State.”
As for why Cooper was so successful, Latu struggled to put his finger on it.
“He’s just so calm when he’s in the pocket, and I just feel like he trusts his line to protect him and he’s not really worried about getting sacked,” Latu said. “He’s just worried about finding a receiver and making plays.”
By the end of the season, Cooper had claimed the state career passing touchdowns (118) and completions (876) records. He also set season passing records in completions (331), touchdowns (58) and yards (4,726).
Passing yards was one statistic he made a habit of tracking every week — “But nothing I’d lose sleep over,” he claimed — always aiming to be at the top of the statewide list by the end of the year.
“It was awesome to know that I’ll be in there hopefully for a while,” he said about setting the state record.
Between the eye-catching statistics and Lehi’s state title, Cooper has won several statewide end-of-season awards, including Gatorade Player of the Year and the Tribune Player of the Year.
Cooper said he appreciates the recognition. But in the forefront of his mind is the knowledge that he’s graduating early and heading to Pullman in two weeks. No one there will care how much recognition he got in high school. They just want to see him complete passes.
“I know it means a lot to him with all these awards,” Tara Cooper said, “but at the same time he’s just still pretty grounded, and he has a lot of goals ahead of him. And he’s just grateful for everything that happened at Lehi, and it will always mean so much to him.”
PAST ALL-TRIBUNE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2016 • Jaylen Warren, East
2015 • Jay Tufele, Bingham
2014 • Austin Kafentzis, Jordan
2013 • Osa Masina, Brighton