Thursday , November 30, 2017 - 5:15 AM
The senior quarterback out of South Jordan led a team picked fifth in Big Sky preseason polls to a conference championship and the program’s third-ever FCS playoff win.
This is his first and only season as a starter at Weber State.
Last year he was the backup and saw spot duty as a running specialist, but once he was given the reigns, his winner’s mentality took over and the epic season of 2017 began.
“When I got the spot, it was just, ‘You know what? I’ve got a year left. What can I do with that year? What plays can I make? What can I help this team do?” Cantwell said.
Prior to his time at Weber State, it was that mentality that earned Cantwell back-to-back state championships at Bingham High, a conference championship at Snow College and a Salt City Bowl victory.
Despite his winning ways, Cantwell wasn’t recruited much out of Snow College, where he met his then bride to be, Elizabeth. In fact, the decision to go to Weber State was greatly in part of his wife’s interest in the nursing program.
Still, head coach Jay Hill knew of Cantwell’s resume and brought him in.
While there was some uncertainty about Cantwell's ability to deliver on the FCS level, a division in which he had little experience, Hill thought he was capable of greatness.
“He’s competitive. He’s a winner,” Hill said. “I assumed, based on what we saw from him last year, he was going to do the same thing this year that he’s done. I can’t say enough about the kid. I wish I had a quarterback like him every year.”
Be it a gutsy, tough run for a first down or a perfectly placed pass for a touchdown, Cantwell’s play has been the catalyst for the Wildcats’ success. In his second start — his first against a competitive opponent — Cantwell threw for 431 yards and ran for 61 more in a loss at California.
His play is what makes Saturday’s second-round matchup at Southern Utah all the more intriguing.
When the two teams met in the regular season, Cantwell played for barely more than a quarter before leaving with concussion-like symptoms with the Wildcats behind 7-3. The Wildcats went on to lose their only conference game of the season, 32-16.
“I’m just excited to get back into this matchup again,” Cantwell said. “It’s an in-state rival, co-conference champs, just being able to go out and prove ourselves (is exciting).”
The rematch is a chance for Cantwell and the Wildcats to build upon what has already been one of the best, if not the best, seasons in Weber State history.
Cantwell will take life after Weber State it as it comes.
“My wife hates when I say this, but we’re going to have to wait and see what happens,” he said. “I’m really honestly focused on the rest of the season, this upcoming game, and if possible, anything after that. Other than that, we’re going to have to cross that bridge when we get there.”
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.
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