Friends and family of Matthew Larson Jr., 18, gathered Feb. 10 in the Bingham High library to surprise him with the presentation of a $5,000 Burger King State Champions Bowl Series scholarship.
“I’m extremely happy to be able to receive this… This is a weight off my shoulders,” Larson said.
Larson, a Bingham High senior, was awarded the scholarship from the Burger King Scholars program for his participation with Bingham Football team in the BK Bowl Series and his personal outstanding academic, athletic, and leadership achievements.
Matthew Larson Jr., son of Matthew Sr. and Abigail Larson, is a football and rugby stand out and academic success according to his coaches and teachers. He currently holds a 4.0 GPA, 34 ACT score and ranked No. 1 academically in his class.
Larson has also been offered the University of Utah’s President’s Scholarship which is a full tuition scholarship and $750 per semester stipend and has been accepted to the U’s Honor’s College. He plans to study either neuroscience or neurobiology in college.
Katie Jones has taught English to Larson for two years. She noted that he has the ability to write and articulate well in addition to his strong science and math skills. She said that this is rare and particularly for a student.
“We just did research papers and Matt’s was on the Higgs boson particle. When he presented it to the class he did a great job of putting it in layman’s terms,” Jones said. “I know that he has this really great mind but he doesn’t flaunt it… He’s a gem.”
He was also a leader on the current state champion BHS Football team. According to former Miners head football coach Dave Peck, Larson was chosen as a P.I.E Leader and a captain for the team. P.I.E stands for passion, integrity and effort. P.I.E Leaders are chosen based on their character and leadership within individual positions and the team as a whole by coaches and players.
“He was a model citizen and was someone that we picked as a P.I.E. leader. He is a kid that everyone has looked to for four years as what a Bingham football player should be,” Peck said.
Michael Cressler is the head coach of Utah Lions High Performance Rugby and formerly the president of Utah Youth Rugby, the official governing body of youth Rugby in Utah. He has coached and been involved in Larson’s rugby experience since his youth.
“He was working as hard or harder than anyone else,” said Cressler, reminiscing on Larson’s youth experience. “He is a really good player. He stands out not in a flashy way but in a solid work ethic way.”
That hard work has made him an integral part of the Lions.
“He is strong, he is explosive, he is fast. Combine that with his leadership skills and because he is selfless, we score lots of points because of Matt. He may not be the one putting the ball down under the post, but we score because of him,” Cressler said.
Larson’s rugby future is bright. Cressler said the rugby community is small and that he knows that most programs have an interest in Larson.
“Dartmouth wants him. Yale wants him. I know the U and BYU would kill to have him,” Cressler said.
Cressler said that his combination of academic and rugby success allows him to choose any program he wants.
BHS football head coach John Lambourne presented the check to Larson.
“A kid can earn $10 an hour. That’s five hundred hours he is ahead,” Lambourne said about the importance of the scholarship.