A Grand entry into State
This year, the North Summit Braves seem to have all of the answers.
The Braves beat the Grand County Red Devils 24-10 in the 2A state semifinals, answering successfully on both sides of the ball, to send themselves to the state championship game for the first time since 1991.
"Our whole defense was just big for us and our offense was big enough to get the win," North Summit head coach Jerre Holmes said.
Offensively, when the Braves found themselves down four minutes into the first quarter following an 80-yard punt return by Grand’s Gordon Garrett for a touchdown, they responded quickly. On the ensuing kick return, the Braves’ Caleb Adams made an even bigger play, returning the kick 89 yards for the tying score.
"Football is big plays. The score was 0-0 again," North Summit’s star running back Dallin Donaldson said.
In the second half, it was the North Summit defense that started providing answers. As the Grand offense began to sputter, it was Caden Richins who delivered two key sacks to make sure the Red Devil’s stayed quiet.
"It felt great to help out the team," Richins said.
Donaldson said that at the half they decided that they would have to stop Grand’s Garrett at quarterback to win the game.
"We knew it he got out of his pocket, he could pass anywhere," Donaldson said.
The Red Devils did manage a field goal to start the fourth quarter, but could not put together a successful drive for the rest of the game, finishing with only 113 yards of total offense. In the meantime, North Summit’s Jake Richins made a 22-yard run for the game-sealing touchdown with 2:26 left in the game.
Donaldson, who missed last week’s game with an appendectomy, said that doctors thought he might have some trouble. However, he led the game in rushing with 104 yards on 18 carries and said he felt fine. Unfortunately, he also injured his right hand in the process, which may sideline him some in the state title game.
"We’ve proven we can win anyway," Holmes said. "We’ve played without him before."
There’s no doubt that last season’s semifinal exit to San Juan was fueling North Summit all game long. The team nearly made it to the state title game before late-game heroics by San Juan, which eventually won the state title, sent the Braves home.
"We got out hearts broken last year," Holmes said. "We made sure that didn’t happen again."
North Summit will have a tall order next week when it faces Millard in the finals. Millard is an athletic team that offers many threats in its multidimensional offense.
"The problem with Millard is there is more than one guy to stop," Holmes said. "We’ve got to be more balanced."
The last time the Braves played in the state title game they walked off with their third of three straight 1A football titles. Donaldson is just hoping they can find the right answer to win the game one more time.
"We’ll put up a great fight. I’m sure of that," Donaldson said.
The Braves will play in the state championship game against Millard on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. at Southern Utah University in Cedar City.
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