Shortly after he made his commitment to play on the offensive line for the University of Utah last summer, Grand's Zane Taylor was asked by a member of the Utes' coaching staff if he would consider graduating from high school early and joining the football team for spring practices.
Not interested, Taylor replied, because he had already set goals for his senior year that he wanted to accomplish. He wanted:
* to help the Red Devils to their first state football championship and win the MVP award;
* to win his third
consecutive state wrestling title and finish a second straight season with an unblemished record;
* and to win state titles in the shot put and discus throws.
"They [Utah's football coaches] respected that," Taylor said. "Some of my goals were pretty far-fetched."
But not unattainable.
Amazingly, Taylor reached every goal that he set. He led Grand to its first Class 2-A football championship and was The Tribune's MVP. He went 41-0 in wrestling while setting some records. He took first in the shot put and discus throws and set a 2-A record in the shot put. For all of his achievements, Taylor is The Salt Lake Tribune's Male Athlete of the Year.
"It was pretty overwhelming," Taylor said. "Everyone in my family knew what my goals were and what I had set out to accomplish. It was satisfying."
The single moment that stands out the best for Taylor occurred in Cedar City on a fall Saturday afternoon.
Grand trailed San Juan with less than three minutes remaining in the 2-A championship game. The Red Devils forced the Broncos to punt and Taylor was supposed to help set up a return. But Taylor, who wasn't sure if his predominantly run offense had enough time to march down the field, took it upon himself to make something happen. He broke through the line and blocked San Juan's punt. The Red Devils recovered on the Broncos' 3-yard line and punched the ball in for their first football title.
"That play will never be forgotten by the people of Moab. Never," Grand quarterback Tony Dalton said after the game.
"He decided on his own that he needed to make something happen," added Dennis Wells, who coached Taylor in football, wrestling and track. "When he decides he wants to do something, it's hard to stop him. When you look at the history of Grand County, that's probably the play that everyone remembers - the blocked punt to win the state championship."
Taylor went on to record more memorable moments in wrestling and track and field during his senior year.
He set a state record by pinning 29 consecutive opponents. Taylor tied a 30-year-old state record by pinning an opponent at the state tournament in six seconds. He didn't lose a match in his junior or senior seasons, as he had a combined 84-0 record in the two years. Taylor believes he could have won at least 10 more matches in his senior year, but an illness sidelined for him for a portion of the season.
Taylor made a name for himself in football, but the turning point came in wrestling.
Taylor struggled with his new sport and lost six matches in the first few weeks of the season. But with the help of Wells and his own dedication and drive, Taylor finished his first season of wrestling with a 35-7 record.