Catching Up With Future Cougars

BYU has three commits in tight end Bryan Sampson, athlete Joey Owens and linebacker Austin Heder, and one waiting in the wings in athlete Sefa Tanoa'i, that play for Pleasant Grove. With the exception of Owens, who was injured and unable to play, they were all instrumental in ending Timpview High School's 36-game winning streak last Friday.

Pleasant Grove High School is loaded with talent. It used to be Timpview High School that was in possession of this much Division I talent, but this happens to be the year of the Viking. In a slugfest that featured sprained ankles, gut-twisting hits and separated shoulders, the Vikings got a long-awaited victory by defeating the Thunderbirds 16-10.

"We earned it," said Bryan Sampson. "After playing on the varsity team and being defeated for three years in a row it was great to finally beat [Timpview]. We had talked about this game for a long time. We had a lot of mistakes, but you can't complain about a win."

"It was a big boost of confidence for us, but we have to take it game by game and practice by practice," said 6-foot-4-inch, 270-pound athlete Sefa Tanoa'i. "We can't get too cocky and have to stay focused."

Running back and linebacker Joey Owens didn't suit up for the game but will put the pads back on in a couple of weeks. The BYU commit has struggled watching his team practice and play without him as he continues to recuperate from shoulder surgeries.

"I've got some shoulder problems," said Owens. "I had a couple of surgeries over the summer, but we're hoping in about three weeks I'll be back in the mix.

"It was hard standing on the sidelines, but it's as bad as sitting during practice too," said Owens. "Pleasant Grove is an amazing team and Timpview is an amazing team. It's just too bad that someone had to lose but I'm just glad it was us that won."

Owens isn't quite sure what position he'll play for the Cougars. The happy-go-lucky bruiser figures that will probably be determined once he gets to BYU.

"I think that will be decided later on when I'm able to get some pads on and then go from there," he said.

On the side of the field, BYU commit and Timpview defensive end Bronson Kaufusi had a very complete game despite the loss. Kaufusi viewed the end result as a learning experience and felt that despite their many mistakes, the team gained fortitude through the adversity.

"There definitely was a lot to learn from that game," said Kaufusi. "Our goals are to just get some little things straightened out. We have to just get the plays and execute, and then one thing that hurt us during the game was turnovers. One good thing I think we have on this team is we didn't get down and kept fighting back. I think that's one good thing we have is we bounce back after being down. We didn't give up even though they scored on us and we had a turnover. We know we can come back."

Kaufusi, considered one of the top defensive ends in the country, has a long-established relationship with many on the Pleasant Grove High School roster.

"I know all the BYU guys from Pleasant Grove and they all had a really good game," said Kaufusi. "I was really proud of them because we're really good friends even though we play on different teams. I'm really excited to play with them at BYU."

"Me and Bronson are best friends and we're going to be brothers next year," said Sampson. "It's just going to be crazy playing with guys you're really close with. It's a lot of fun playing against him but it's going to be great playing with him at BYU."

Kaufusi is really close to Sefa Tanoa'i as well.

"Sefa is a great athlete and played all over the field," said Kaufusi. "We've been good friends for a long time and I'm really happy for him and hope he does well for the rest of the season. He's so athletic for his size."

"I've been going to camps with Bronson and I've known him since the fourth grade," said Tanoa'i. "On the field we needed to win but off the field we are really good friends. I just wanted to win that game badly."

Kaufusi had nothing but praise for Tanoa'i, who at 270 pounds played wide receiver, defensive tackle and middle linebacker in the Vikings' win over Timpview. At a crucial point in the game, Tanoa'i caught a pass and ran downfield for about 40 yards to seal the victory.

"One player that stood out to me was Sefa and I can't wait to play with him," said Kaufusi. "I can't wait for him to commit."

"I'll play anywhere I can help my team and help my team win," said Tanoa'i. "I didn't care how tired I was or how hurt I was inside, I was going to do anything to help my team win.

Before Tanoa'i can do what Kaufusi wants and commit to the Cougars, he has to get his grades in order.

"I've been working hard to get my grades up to par," said Tanoa'i. "I'm just waiting for BYU to offer me an official scholarship. They just want to see some consistency in my grades and then they said they would offer me. Once they do I'm going there."

On Friday Timpview travels to Idaho to face Highland High School in Pocatello. Pleasant Grove takes on Timpanogos High School as they continue their quest for their first state championship in 17 years.

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