Fremont High celebrates '95 state title contender

Saturday , October 11, 2014 - 11:03 AM

PLAIN CITY — Olin Hannum. Jake Brian. Kurt Flinders.

For the tight-knit communities of Plain City and Hooper, these names are still discussed with fondness as people recall the time the spotlight shone on the kids of their new Fremont High School in 1995.

These men and more came together at the school for a team reunion Thursday night to celebrate Fremont’s 5-A state championship contender from two decades ago.

“After hearing for the hundredth time ‘I wonder what [those players] are doing,’ I decided to try and bring that team together for a reunion,” Fremont principal Rod Belnap said.

About 20 former players from that team, even from out of state, converged on Fremont High to reminisce with their former school mates. The once-players and their families met in the parking lot before the game to enjoy hot dogs off the grill and began to catch up.

The group then took the field at halftime of Fremont’s 21-10 win over Weber High and was recognized name by name for their place in school history.

“Those kids still hold an important place to a lot of people in this community, so we wanted to honor and remember them,” Belnap said, who recalled a magical feeling in the community for what the ’95 football team meant to the new school.

“We played hard and looked after each other,” center and defensive tackle Luke Rasmussen said, who is now principal of Northridge High. “We didn’t have much fighting on the team, we all looked after each other and didn’t want to let each other down.”

“We’re all great friends,” quarterback Olin Hannum said. “It’s funny some of us could not see each other for 15 or 20 years and come back and talk to each other like it was yesterday.”

Hannum went on to star at Snow College and was recruited to North Carolina State by college coaching legend Norm Chow, where he appeared in five games as backup to current NFL veteran Philip Rivers.

Now a professional steer wrestler who lives in Malad, Idaho, Hannum explained the team chemistry extended onto the field.

“We all believed in our goals and in each other,” Hannum said. “We felt like if we did our job, we knew the guy next to us would do his and we would win.”

The ’95 team fell short of the 5-A state championship, losing a 21-20 overtime heartbreaker in the title bout with ’90s powerhouse Skyline High at the University of Utah. After Fremont scored on its possession of overtime, head coach Blaine Monkres elected to go for the win with a two-point conversion instead of kicking the extra point to extend the game.

Hannum bootlegged left, throwing a strike to receiver Jake Brian who came open in the back of the end zone. The ball was briefly cradled but not secured, fell to the turf and Skyline won.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Brian said of the game’s final play. “The only people who talk about it now are my brothers-in-law. They will bring it up at Sunday dinner to rib me about it sometimes. But no, it doesn’t bother me.”

Brian, who still lives in Plain City and works logistics for Standlee Hay Company, was a key cog in the Silver Wolves’ memorable season. In ’95’s season-opening win over the same Skyline team, Brian set a state record for receptions in a game with 15, which still ranks fourth on Utah’s all-time list today.

“We felt like we were the small-town farm boys going against the bigger schools in Salt Lake, so we always felt like we were the underdogs,” Brian recalled of the season. “The whole community rallied around that through the season and even after the loss. They were very good to us.”

After Thursday’s game, the reunion moved into the school where game highlights were enjoyed and old friends caught up.

“It’s nice to be able see each other again and talk about old times,” Rasmussen said.

“Nobody wanted the spotlight and attention, Brian explained of the get-together. “We told them we’re just getting the guys together. We’ll go out at halftime, but it’s really about getting together before the game and after the game to visit. Everyone was really excited for that.”

Each former player also credited the coaching staff for taking a brand-new football team to the state championship game in its second year. Monkres, now in his seventh year at Dixie High, ranks seventh all-time in Utah for coaching wins. Also on staff was Fred Fernandes, the program-rebuilding extraordinaire in his fourth year at his alma mater Roy High, which is currently 7-0 this season.

“We thought we were okay, but our coaches were always telling us how good we could become if we worked hard,” Brian said. “They were able to look past the snot-nosed teenage kids and see if we worked together, we could do something special. They could see it before we did.”

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