Only four weeks into the 2013 campaign, the North Summit High School football team already has more wins (three) than it did all of last year (two).
The Braves hit the road last Friday afternoon to pick up their third victory, a 24-14 battle against Summit Academy.
Though North Summit (3-1) entered the game against a winless Summit Academy squad, head coach Devin Smith wasn't going to let his players overlook the challenge.
"We knew they were better than their record," he said. "And it was a weird start time at four o'clock, so that had some challenges too. But it's a region win, so it's huge."
The Braves are now 2-0 in the 2A northern region, with wins over Summit Academy and Gunnison. Smith said he thinks North Summit is getting better every day.
"I think they're very confident," he said. "They have a good chemistry with each other and they're having fun. They're working hard, but they're having fun too."
Friday's victory will only help boost the Braves' confidence, Smith said, especially after the team limited a problem that had been plaguing it all year long.
"We only had one turnover," Smith said. "That's pretty good. You'd like to have none, but the reality of that matter is that's part of the game. You can live with one turnover."
Junior quarterback Ryan McMichael had a great game running the football, scoring three times and amassing more than 100 yards on the ground. He scored on the first play from scrimmage, scampering 80 yards to give the Braves an early lead.
"Just an option play," Smith said. "He made a good read and we did a good job of blocking it and he broke loose."
Smith said he's happy with the way McMichael has become a team leader in 2013.
"Ryan played really well," he said. "But he would tell you he can't do what he does without his teammates. He's making good decisions and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him."
Nick Rees scored the other North Summit touchdown, taking a handoff 30 yards for a score in the first quarter.
Defensively, Smith said progress is being made on the field every week.
"Our defense keeps getting better," he said. "We had to play this week without two of our defensive starters, but we're getting better defending the pass and we're continually getting better against the run."
Now, he added, the focus becomes maintaining the Braves' three-game winning streak.
"Obviously, winning becomes contagious," he said. "But there's also a fine line there that everybody, coaching staff and the kids, that you have to work hard to earn victories. We have to work hard in practice, in the weight room and in the film room."
This week, North Summit will host Millard (1-3). Smith said Friday night's game will be a matchup challenge.
"They're a big, physical team," he said. "You can say that about a Millard team every year. And they're well-coached. If you look up Millard in a dictionary, that's what it will say big, physical, well-coached."
That means the Braves will have to be ready for a smash-mouth game.
"We obviously want to match their physicality," Smith said. "We also want to tackle better than we did last week. We still need to focus on limiting turnovers too. Those two things [tackling and ball control] are really big."
Friday night's game will start at 7 p.m. at North Summit High School.