Orem junior Cooper Legas is already an accomplished athlete. As a sophomore, he not only won the 4A state title in the javelin but he also finished fourth in the 182-pound weight class in the 4A state wrestling tournament.
Oh, yeah … he also plays football.
Legas has utilized his wide variety of skills to power the Tiger offense this fall, guiding them to an 8-2 overall record and an undefeated 5-0 run through Region 10. The two Orem losses came at the hands of 6A Bingham and 5A Corner Canyon — both of which are undefeated.
The numbers the junior quarterback have put up are staggering:
- 84 rushes
- 862 rushing yards
- Four rushing touchdowns
- 169-of-254 passing (66.5 percent)
- 3,053 passing yards
- 34 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions
- 338 plays participated in
- 3,915 total yards
- 38 total touchdowns
For his incredible offensive prowess and his tremendous versatility, the Daily Herald is proud to honor Cooper Legas as the 2017 Daily Herald Utah Valley Football Player of the Year.
Tiger head coach Jeremy Hill said although other Tigers like junior wide receiver Puka Nacua get a lot of the attention, the team relies heavily on Legas to propel it to victory.
“I am happy he’s being recognized,” Hill said. “Puka tends to get more attention than Cooper does, has more of the offers. People ask who can you not live without. We won the two games that Puka sat out, but I don’t know if we win two games if Cooper sits out. I don’t know if we get along without Cooper.”
Legas was quick to credit the other Tigers, saying teamwork has been key for this squad.
“This year we have a lot of kids who are unselfish and play for the team,” Legas said. “It’s helped us beat a lot of good teams.”
One of those teams was an opponent from Bakersfield, Calif., who might have underestimated Orem.
“The trip was a lot of fun, being with the team,” Legas said. “We played Bakersfield and they were supposed to be really good. The announcers the whole time were saying that our team should never be able to play with a California team and then we put up 63 points on them. It was a lot of fun showing them that Utah teams can play.”
Hill recalled one run by Legas during that contest that demonstrated his talent.
“There was a play he made out in Bakersfield where seven or eight guys thought they had him tackled,” Hill said. “He went almost parallel to the ground, within inches of being down, but somehow he popped up and jogged to the end zone.”
The junior said he has always been able to run fairly well, but said the big key is continuing to develop his passing game.
“I’ve always been able to run,” Legas said. “My first two years as a freshman and sophomore, they would pretty much just put me in if we needed to run. I feel like I’ve always been able to do that, but I’ve really been trying to work on my passing game so colleges can see that I can throw, too.”
But his agility is also a weapon and Hill has seen Legas put it to good use for years.
“My offensive coordinator was getting frustrated with Cooper not throwing the ball when he should have,” Hill said. “I told him that he had to be patient because Cooper is like Tim Tebow. Sometimes when everything breaks down, he’s at his best.”
Hill explained that Legas is one of those young men who always gives his best, no matter what he’s doing.
“Coop is awesome,” Hill said. “He’s the most coachable kid I’ve been around. He’s a 4.0 kid and whatever he sets his mind to, he succeeds in. He’s a coach’s dream, for sure.”
Hill loves the toughness Legas brings to the football field.
“He has that toughness from wrestling,” Hill said. “I think wrestling has also given him some rubber hips, which helps him not to go down. I don’t know a tougher kid. He’s been hurt, but he’s never been injured and missed time. If we are running scout offense, he wants to hop in and play receiver or something different. He’s always begging me to play defense. He’s a kid who truly loves the game.”
Legas believes that mentality should be one every high school athlete embraces.
“I’d say the biggest thing is if you are going to play, be all in,” Legas said. “Don’t miss practices. Play for the team and not for yourself. Having amazing athletes doesn’t mean you are the best team. You have to work together to be able to win games.”