Manti looms for Wildcats
After thumping North Sevier 55-13 on the road Friday, the South Summit Wildcats, now 4-1, have arguably their biggest game of the season staring them in the face. This Friday in Kamas, South Summit is scheduled to host the defending 2A state champion Manti Templars, the same team that bounced South Summit from the 2A state playoffs 6-0 a year ago.
The loss to the eventual state champions is still fresh in the minds of the Wildcats but, according to head coach Jerry Parker, it doesn’t provide any added motivation.
"This whole season it’s been one game at a time," he said. "It’s still been that way. There’s been no revenge (factor). It’s about getting the division title and it goes through Manti. I don’t think kids carry stuff over like the old days. They move on."
Parker agreed that the game against the Templars will be a true barometer of just how far his explosive Wildcats have come this season.
In Friday’s romp over the Wolves at North Sevier, South Summit had six different players score touchdowns and the Wildcats continued to showcase their big-play ability.
Senior Jay Reidhead scored the first two touchdowns of the game on a 70-yard run followed by a 30-yard interception return. Soon afterward, senior Hayden Packard added a 60-yard touchdown run and the Wildcats were off to the races, up 21-0.
In the second quarter, a four-yard touchdown run by Porter Santos was followed by a 25-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Caden Christenson to Cole Richins.
After the half, Christenson added a 21-yard touchdown run of his own. Packard, who had an evening similar to Reidhead, his backfield mate, also returned an interception 30 yards. Carson Freestone added a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth to sew up the 55-13 final.
"We’re pretty dynamic with that," Parker said of the team’s versatility. "We’ve got really good running backs, we can throw well, and our receivers are catching. I think we’re definitely a handful when we play up to our potential."
Asked if he expected the Wildcat offense to be this explosive going into the season, Parker said the only question mark was Christenson, who had never started a varsity game before. Now, the junior has gone from being a question mark to an exclamation point.
Through five games, the Wildcats haven’t scored less than 27 points and Christenson has accounted for 13 touchdowns eight through the air and five on the ground.
"We knew we could put points up," Parker said. "We’ve kind of exceeded that with how we’ve been able to do it."
In spite of the Wildcats’ impressive start, Parker said his team has played only four strong quarters in the last two games. He said his team can’t afford to be undisciplined against a team as strong as Manti.
"They beat us twice last year, one of them in that semifinal game, and we felt like we had a chance to win that," he said. "We’re ready. Our kids are ready. Our kids are excited.
"Manti is a big school with lots of depth, so it’ll be interesting to see how we can handle four quarters with them. That’s probably the biggest thing, to see if we can stay with them for four quarters."
Manti is also 4-1, with its only loss coming to 3A powerhouse Juan Diego on Sept. 24. In its last game on Sept. 14, Manti thumped the visiting North Summit Braves 46-7.
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