Maybe even more impressive than Scott Gunther’s thrilling, tackle-breaking touchdown romps and his knack for busting loose for long runs on the football field is his report card.
This is one first-team, all-league running back who has not let sports eclipse the classroom. It doesn’t matter if he’s taking a handoff on the football field or taking a test in the classroom, Gunther, a senior at Olympia High School and a three-year starter as a running back, excels. He’s got a 3.97 GPA. His perfect 4.0 was spoiled last year with a B in calculus.
He’s the true definition of student-athlete.
Helping him keep that balance between school and sports has been Gunther’s ace in the hole – his parents, Wendy and Kevin Gunther. It all started in grade school.
“We’d tell him in order for you to go out and play you’ve got to get your stuff done,” Kevin said. “Of course, every kid wants to go out and play. He didn’t battle it and say I want to play first. He listened and learned and now he’s doing it on his own.”
On Friday night in Olympia’s amazing 49-42, lost-it, won-it, victory over Bellarmine, Gunther was the game saver, scoring six touchdowns that totaled 240 yards in touchdown romps alone. His game saver was a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ketner Young with 10 seconds left in the game.
Bellarmine had just scored on a quarterback sneak for a 42-41 lead with 1:40 left. But there was still time for the undefeated Bears to pull off another miraculous comeback. Thanks to Young’s perfect screen pass and Gunther’s catch-and-dodge touchdown romp.
But the Bears’ magic, Gunther’s grit and score, isn’t limited to this one game. In the game against Rogers, Gunther scored four touchdowns for a 49-7 win. He’s now scored 16 touchdowns in just three games for the undefeated Bears.
“Obviously, his big plays are uncanny,” Bears coach Bill Beattie said. “He made a run down the sideline against Rogers where I think he broke three, four tackles. He likes to find a way to that end zone.”
Gunther, who can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds, has the knack for lower-his-shoulder power and the run-away speed. He’s a power guy with speed.
“I think that’s what makes him unique,” Beattie said. “He’s really elusive and he’s not afraid to lower a shoulder and bang into you. He’s got good leg drive. So, he’s got a good combination of all the qualities. That’s what makes him so tough.”
When the Bears need a couple of yards for a first down, Gunther can lower the pads and get that one or two yards.
“Or, he can be the guy who can get around the end and off he goes,” Beattie said.
As the running back who has scored six touchdowns in one game twice this season, the assumption about Gunther would be that he’s got an ego, but Gunther isn’t a shouting leader.
“He’s a quiet kid,” Beattie said. “He leads by example. He doesn’t say a lot.”
But there’s no greater let’s-go pep talk than Gunther’s 85-yard touchdown run against Bellarmine.
“He’s a lead by example guy,” Kevin said. “He’s going to let his playing do the talking. It’s worked for him. The kids have responded to him when he does those kinds of things.”
And all along, from the days Gunther ran for touchdowns when he first turned out for football in first grade, there’s been dad, cheering. And he’s also been coaching. Kevin, who is a teacher, has coached his two sons, Scott and James, who is now a freshman and playing baseball at Olympic College in Bremerton.
Kevin wasn’t sitting in the stands Friday, cheering from a distance. He was on the sidelines coaching and high-fiving the players as the Bears wide receiver coach.
“It’s just been a blessing,” Kevin said about being able to coach his sons. “It’s one thing to watch your kid do things as a bystander.”
But just knowing he gets to watch his son in practice, to share in the thrill of another comeback victory, that’s the reward.
“It’s one of the coolest things I’ve been able to do,” Kevin said. “Being able to coach my boys and to be able to watch them grow as young men and as pretty good athletes.”
And what makes this father-son story even more special is that they’re fellow Bears. Kevin is a 1991 Olympia High School grad, going on to play college baseball and then playing professionally in the minor leagues for a couple of years.
Scott, like his dad and brother, is all-league in football and baseball. His favorite sport?
“Football,” Scott said. “It’s hard to explain what I like about it. It’s just fun.”
And Scott’s passion for the grid iron and the classroom is driven by the same goal.
“It’s an opportunity to get a scholarship,” he said.