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North Summit football: Braves finding their footing

Although the team started the season 0-2 and was riddled with injuries at several key positions, Devin Smith asked his North Summit Braves to find that little something extra prior to their road showdown with 2A powerhouse Millard Friday.

"We talked a ton about playing with emotion and how you can’t play this game without it," he said. "We have good kids, and I think now we’re getting the idea of playing with emotion. It showed last night."

The Braves lost to the Eagles 20-6, but the game was far from a blowout. North Summit trailed only 7-6 heading into the fourth quarter and, after Millard had taken a 14-6 lead, the Braves marched down to the Eagle 25-yard line before a penalty thwarted a potential game-tying drive. Millard added a touchdown with 16 seconds remaining to wrap up the victory.

While the Braves fell to 0-3 to start the season, Smith said he’s seen tremendous growth. On Friday they were able to hold Millard star running back Jesse Rhodes to one touchdown run, despite a Herculean performance of 212 yards rushing on 30 carries.

"We knew Jesse was very, very good," Smith said. "I’m pretty sure there’s not a faster kid in 2A than him. I gave them the analogy of LeBron James in basketball: No one is ever going to stop LeBron James, so we knew we’ve just got to eliminate the big explosive plays. He never broke one on us. I was proud. Our kids took that challenge. I felt like we did as good as a job with him as anyone."

Smith said the Braves had some misfortune in the first half, including a long touchdown play being called back for a penalty and a long pass from sophomore quarterback Ryan McMichael was dropped by a Braves receiver. Smith said McMichael — who scored North Summit’s lone touchdown, a three-yard scamper — has done an admirable job stepping in place of senior Ben Stephens, who is now playing safety and running back due to a sprained thumb suffered in week one at Beaver.

"He’s going to be very, very good for us," Smith said of McMichael. "Ben is wearing a hard cast on his hand, but it’s nice to have him back. He provides some speed for us."

After suffering a series of unfortunate key injuries against Beaver in week one and falling to 1A powerhouse Duchesne in week two, Smith said his Braves have found their footing despite their 0-3 record.

"Once again, no disrespect to Beaver, but with all the injuries that happened in that game, you can’t sit and lull over it. Against Duchesne, we didn’t play with a lot of passion. Last night we did. I think it was a huge confidence builder for our kids," he said.

North Summit is scheduled to hold its home opener Friday in Coalville against American Leadership Academy.

"I know they’re excited to play next week," Smith said. "We’ve got kids who don’t play football wanting to know what time to show up to the game. Hopefully fans will show up and we’ll provide a good atmosphere and get our first win."


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