The North Summit High School football team surprised more than a few people en route to the 2A semifinals last season. This season, the coaches and players knew they wouldn't be sneaking up on anybody.
That proved true on Friday night in Coalville when Altamont came to town. In 2013, the Braves defeated Altamont 41-0 to start the season. This year, with a target on their backs, the Braves only managed a 40-0 victory.
All joking aside, North Summit coach Devin Smith said he was thrilled with the way the Braves started their 2014 campaign.
"We're happy with that result," he said. "I thought, for the most part, we executed really well offensively. And, considering the elements, I thought our defense was really good, too."
The first quarter was all about Carson Richins. The senior running back ran for three touchdowns in the opening period, from 42, 16 and three yards out. Abel Portillo added three extra points to give the Braves a 21-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Richins scored on another 16-yard run. Tristan Woolstenhulme added an 11-yard touchdown run to make it 34-0 at halftime. Richins scored his fifth touchdown in the third quarter on a one-yard run to make it 40-0.
Smith said the entire offense was clicking on Friday night, allowing Richins plenty of running room.
"Carson would be the first to tell you he had good blocking," Smith said. "And a lot of the runs came off option reads, where the quarterback [Ryan McMichael] made the right read.
The offensive line, which has several new faces, performed admirably, Smith said. But, he added, he's excited to see how much better the unit can get over the course of the season.
"I thought, overall, they did a really good job," he said. "There are some things they can work on, but you almost hope for that this early in the season.
Defensively, Smith acknowledged it was cliché, but said the unit played together all night long.
"Honestly, it was a team effort," he said. "We had some kids recover some fumbles and Luke Keisel had an interception, but there were several times we had all 11 guys right there on the tackle. I would hate to, in that game especially, single out one particular guy."
Speaking of interceptions, Smith said one of the best stats from Friday's game was that North Summit won the turnover battle 6-0.
"We didn't turn the ball over at all and we forced six turnovers," he said. "[Ball security] is something that we've struggled with in the past, so we emphasized it this year. It doesn't matter who you're playing, if you end up on the positive side of the turnover battle, you'll have a chance to win."
Though the Braves won 40-0, Smith said there is still work to do as the season wears on, particularly in the discipline department.
"The first thing we're going to focus on is eliminating penalties," he said. "We were penalized for over 150 yards on Friday."
This week, the Braves will have a tough task. They'll face Duchesne, a 1A school that currently has a 48-game varsity winning streak, including a victory against North Summit in 2013.
"It's going to be a tough task to try to beat them," Smith said. "Those kids don't even know what it's like to lose a varsity football game."
North Summit (1-0) travels to Duchesne on Friday night to square off against the Eagles. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.