SYRACUSE -- Even with a grand total of zero varsity passing attempts heading into the 2012 campaign, there was never any doubt that Brock Anderson would be the one lining up behind center for the Syracuse Titans.
The senior quarterback validated the decision of a prescient Syracuse coaching staff by tossing 20 touchdown passes during the regular season against only one interception in 168 attempts. Overall, he was 143-for-207 (69.1 percent) throwing the ball for 1,850 yards with 25 TDs and four pickoffs. He also carried the ball 95 times for 396 yards (4.2 ypc) and six scores.
His versatility allowed him to be used as a nickel package defensive back, where he recorded eight tackles for a defense that posted four shutouts. And, finally, he booted seven field goals and 38 extra points, directly accounting for 251 of the Titans' 387 points this season and led Syracuse to an 11-0 record in the games that he started.
For his accomplishments in helping guide the Titans to a state runner-up finish in class 5-A, Brock Anderson has been named the 2012 Standard-Examiner All-Area Football MVP.
"He had great sophomore and junior years and there was no question that he'd be our starting quarterback," Syracuse head coach Russ Jones said. "He just seemed so comfortable in the position. He knew when to run and when to throw it. He's very humble and quiet, but he just gets the job done. He's always been a gamer. His job was to take care of the football and at game-time he made great decisions."
In a cruel twist, however, Anderson was unable to witness the ends of perhaps the two biggest wins in Syracuse's six-year history.
Against Alta in the 5-A state quarterfinals, Anderson had just scored the eventual game-winning touchdown to put the Titans on top 31-24 with 9:50 to play in the game when Syracuse got the ball back again in the final minutes trying to nurse its lead. Anderson dropped back to pass and with nothing developing, took a step forward to run with the ball and crumpled to the turf untouched. A torn right Achilles tendon ended his high school career.
"I just dropped back to pass, saw an opening and started to run and that's when it happened," Anderson explained. "I knew it was something bad. I heard a pop and I knew that wasn't normal. My first thought was that I was done. I remember just wanting to go back and play and finish the game and then go down to the (University of Utah) to finish on the turf.
"We went straight to my dad's car and went straight to the hospital. I didn't know that we won until somebody called my dad (Syracuse High School athletic director Kelly Anderson) at the hospital."
With the win over the Hawks, the Titans moved on to play perennial power Bingham in the semi-finals. Again, the timing couldn't have been worse as his surgery was scheduled during the game.
"I went out for the coin toss and I was at the game for our first two possessions and then I left," the 6-foot, 170-pounder said. "It was unlucky scheduling. When my mom and dad told me that my surgery was at 11:30 and that the game was at 11:00 I was devastated. I was able to watch the first half from the waiting room, but they took me into surgery at halftime and I didn't find out the score until after."
Perhaps surprising most everyone but themselves, the Titans defeated the Miners, 21-16, to move on to the school's first championship game appearance. Ironically, for a squad so adept at limiting mistakes all season long, turnovers and miscues doomed Syracuse from the early going and ultimately resulted in a 58-2 loss to Jordan in a title game that Anderson could only watch from the sideline.
"I think we were happy with winning our first region championship in school history and we reached our goal of making it to the state championship, although we would have liked to have won it." Anderson said.
Anderson started playing football in the fourth grade, inspired by his father who was then a Bountiful High coach. After a year at running back, he moved to quarterback, which has been his primary position ever since, even though he rotated in as a varsity receiver as a junior. His soccer background also allowed him to transition into a kicker which earned him all-state recognition a year ago.
"My comment to him the other night at the football banquet was, 'How are you all-state as a kicker one year and then at quarterback the next?'," Jones said. "He's going to be good at whatever he does.
"He was really hurt mentally with the injury because he was looking forward to the playoffs and getting to the carpet. Once it hit him he really took it hard, but he was always there to help our kids and was always willing to help the other quarterbacks. We didn't really have to even slow practice down -- he helped us a ton."
Like a true team player, Anderson deflects the credit for his gaudy passing statistics, crediting his teammates.
"We're all friends and have been playing football together forever," Anderson said. "I think (my success) had a lot to do with my receivers running good routes and I didn't have to throw into a lot of tight windows. I think that the chemistry we've had together over the last eight years helped.
"I think our expectations were to win a state championship. We worked hard in the off-season after losing last year in the semis (21-14 to Fremont in overtime). I think it was hard seeing the seniors lose like that. We didn't want to see our senior season come down to losing by a foot or however close we came. "
The injury also cost Anderson his senior basketball season. He was Syracuse's second-best scorer last year. However, he hopes that he can resume full workouts by May or June. After that he'd like to play football in college.
Indeed, with hurdles already overcome and challenges previously met, it would be unwise to count out this year's gridiron 'Titan.'