North Summit football: Braves prepare for rivalry battle after win |

North Summit football: Braves prepare for rivalry battle after win

North Summit football coach Devin Smith never thought his senior quarterback would turn out to be a force to be reckoned with as a tailback.

But when Ben Stephens suffered a significant thumb injury in the first week of the season against Beaver, the Braves had to go another route behind center. Stephens’ thumb healed enough so that he could play, but returning as the quarterback would have been difficult.

So Smith called on sophomore Ryan McMichael to take the snaps and moved Stephens to the backfield.

Now, Stephens has emerged in the North Summit backfield with his game-changing speed and elusiveness. He ran for 203 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries in the Braves’ 38-18 victory over the North Sevier Wolves Friday in Coalville.

"Gosh, he’s good about thanking the linemen about their blocking," said Smith. "I know he felt bad initially when he got hurt because he’s been so looking forward to playing quarterback, but he’s had a great attitude about it.

"I think not only is he fast, but he’s strong, too. Anybody knows that it takes linemen to get you those creases, but when he gets them, he’s fast and he’s hard to catch when he gets out in the open field."

Stephens has rushed for 405 yards in four games as a tailback so far this season and is averaging over 15 yards per carry.

But Stephens wasn’t the lone bright spot in North Summit’s second win of the season Friday. McMichael threw for two touchdowns — a 29-yard pass to tight end Landon Richins and a 40-yard pass to Trenton Killion — and helped the North Summit option offense fire on all cylinders.

"I think his confidence has progressed," Smith said of McMichael. "I think the rest of the team, the older guys, they’ve embraced him. He’s even done a pretty good job of becoming a leader, which is hard for a sophomore."

Senior fullback Austin Scholes added a pair of touchdowns in the rout of the Wolves.

"Anytime you get a win, it helps build confidence," Smith said. "I think we executed well on both sides of the ball. Our kids were excited, it was homecoming week — a win is a confidence builder and we needed that."

Now 2-3, North Summit has gained some momentum heading into one of the more important weeks of the year. The Braves are slated to face rival South Summit (5-2) Friday night in Coalville.

North Summit hasn’t defeated South Summit since 2008 but Smith said he tries to let the emotions and hype of the rivalry week take care of itself.

"I try not to focus too much on it," he explained. "They all know it’s a rivalry game and it’s a big game for both communities, but I try not to blow the game out of proportion. I know that’s a coaching cliché, but we don’t have to build it up; it just naturally happens. The kids are aware of that, I know they are. Obviously, South Summit has had some great teams the last three or four years. We’d love to upset them."

As for his message for his upset-minded Braves?

"I’ve been involved with this rivalry almost my whole life," Smith said. "I will tell our kids that they should feel lucky to play in a rivalry like this."

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