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'Renaissance Man' in pads
North -
By Lya Wodraska
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published August 8, 2004 2:33 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
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MOAB - This eastern Utah town is home to some of the best mountain biking in the world, Arches National Park, and Zane Taylor.

OK, Taylor may not be as well known as Moab's other two attractions, but give the big boy time.

No doubt his name will be familiar to Class 2-A football opponents this year, and by his graduation, his status could stretch as high as the red cliffs surrounding the desert community.

Grand County High's football program has turned out very few stars. The best is probably 1972 graduate Leonard Walterscheid, who played at Southern Utah University before making it to the NFL.

If expectations are met, Taylor's jersey could be retired and displayed in the same trophy case.

At 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, Taylor, a defensive tackle and guard, has blossomed from a large boy in grade school to a fierce football player.

"He is just an animal," Grand coach Dennis Wells said. "When he came in, I heard he was a big boy, but he was green. We moved him from tight end to the line, and he got called for being downfield a lot, but he has come a long ways since then."

Not surprisingly, as his talent has picked up, so has the interest. Taylor recently met with Stanford's coaches while visiting his mother in California.

Taylor's future is packed with potential, but perhaps the most positive thing is it may not always involve a football. There is no single-mindedness when it comes to Taylor, who chases interests like he hunts down the ball.

Athletically, Taylor stayed busy in the football offseason last year, winning the 2-A state heavyweight wrestling title and taking third in the discus and sixth in the shot put at the state track meet.

He also participates in student government, speech and debate and excels in drama, earning a lead role in "Bye Bye Birdie" and the prince in "Cinderella" in school plays.

During lunch, when others are lounging about the school grounds, Taylor holes up in the school library, reading Newsweek, National Geographic and Scientific America, or he is out taking pictures for the school yearbook.

"Some joke around and call me a 'Renaissance Man,' some people will call me a loner, because I like to read and learn," Taylor said. "But what makes it tough is there are so many things I love to do. Who knows what I'm going to do? I could do something in photography or make movies or football. I am going to do a lot of brainstorming the next two years. . . . There are a lot of football players out there who are the dumbest guys in the world, but I don't want to be like that. I want to be intelligent and good at other things."

Watching a recent scrimmage between Duchesne and Grand, one spectator said Taylor was an easy guy to notice in a crowd because he would be the one knocking someone over, "then picking them up and apologizing."

His easy-going nature and generous smile make teammates and classmates gravitate to him, while his skills have earned their respect.

He plans to use both.

Grand is coming off a 2-7 season, but a good group of young players led by Taylor has brought the Red Devils a new attitude.

"There was a lot of apathy in this school last year," Taylor said. "I'd like to change that. We weren't a fourth-quarter team last year, and that better change this year. We've got better leaders than we had last year; no one on this team has big egos."

Taylor has done his part, getting in the weight room and encouraging others to join him. There was a time when Taylor's influence might have been used elsewhere. High school coaches in Fresno, where his mother lives, courted him to come play there, telling him he would be more noticed by Division I schools.

Taylor declined, remaining with his father, Tom, in Moab.

"I love Moab, there is no way I could leave," he said. "I've had so many people watching after me, so many of my friends' parents became like my third mom. I want to give back to them."

lwodraska@sltrib.com

Class 2-A North Football Rankings

1. Manti

QB Taylor Salanoa both a passing and rushing threat, Defending champs will be inexperienced on the line, Bo Congdon, Devin Frischknecht star returnees on defense

2. Juan Diego

Runners-up return three starters on offense, four on defense, Marquis Wilson already received several major college offers, Coach says defense inexperienced but speedy

3. North Summit

6-4, 235-pound Grant Stoddard hard for anyone to get around, RB Curtis Louder, FB Riley Rasmussen form good combo, Coach downplaying squad, only picked them sixth

4. Juab

Have a new coach in Mike Bowring, Wasps cut their teeth with fairly tough preseason schedule, Haven't been above .500 since 2000 season

5. South Summit

Coach says team has better attitude, unity than last year's 1-9 squad, QB Trevor Wagstaff returns to lead offensive attack, Big things expected of new student Andy Crandall

6. Grand

Underclassmen seem bent to end days of missing playoffs, TE Russell Walston in for a big year, Morgan Bates, Kerby Smith lead talented group of up-and-comers

7. Gunnison

Expectations low for Dogs, but coach says aggressiveness has improved, Ross Peterson one of eight returning starters on defense, 6-4, 250-pound Jack Pay will hold court on the line



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