South Summit football: San Juan bucks South Summit once more |

South Summit football: San Juan bucks South Summit once more

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

The hardest part for Jerry Parker is pushing the lever on the locker-room door for the last time of the season, when he and his players take that somber walk toward the group of awaiting fans, on their way to board the big yellow bus home to Kamas.

"The finality of it all," said Parker, South Summit’s football coach. "I think it’s a special place. I really enjoy the locker-room atmosphere. It’s a family thing. You don’t have all that other outside stuff going on."

On Saturday in Cedar City, the Wildcats took that all-too-familiar walk out of the locker room after they fell to longtime nemesis San Juan 15-9 in a 2A semifinal game. South Summit, which averaged nearly 40 points per game throughout the first 10 games of the season, ran into a buzz saw that is the Bronco defense. Going into Saturday’s semifinal matchup, the Bronco defense had allowed 4.6 points per game, and on the turf at Southern Utah University, San Juan rose to the occasion against a high-octane Wildcat offense.

"We’re not the only ones that have had trouble scoring against them all year," Parker said, laughing. "In the playoffs, you’re just playing better competition and everyone’s scores go down."

South Summit jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second quarter on senior running back Hayden Packard’s 6-yard touchdown run. But the point-after-attempt missed, and soon San Juan would capture its first lead of the afternoon when quarterback Barkley Christensen scored on a 26-yard touchdown run. With the point after, the Broncos led the Wildcats 7-6. South Summit was able to put together another strong drive late in the second quarter, but San Juan held the Wildcats to a 23-yard field goal by sophomore Bracken Santos.

South Summit led San Juan 9-7 at halftime, which is remarkable considering that, throughout its first 10 games of the 2012 season, San Juan hadn’t trailed in a game once.

In the second half, as Parker said, the Bronco defense made its adjustments and put the clamp down on the versatile South Summit offense. In the third quarter, Christensen found receiver Bobby Bowring for a 26-yard touchdown pass and, after San Juan scored a two-point conversion, the Broncos led the Wildcats 15-9.

South Summit wasn’t able to get much going the rest of the afternoon, and the Wildcat season ended when Bronco Ammon Mitchell intercepted Wildcat junior quarterback Caden Christenson in the final minute of the game.

It was the fifth time in four years that the Broncos had defeated the Wildcats.

"I feel like we battled pretty good. We just couldn’t get a break down there at end," Parker said. "Their defense is good; they make adjustments. They adjusted as the game went on. They took our perimeter game away (in the second half) and they really started stunting more and bringing more guys inside. Between inside pressure and taking away the outside, we were forced to throw and they have pretty good athletes in the defensive backfield."

Packard finished with a team-high 64 yards and one touchdown on eight carries, while Porter Santos rushed for 34 yards on nine carries. Christenson carried the ball 14 times for 33 yards and was 8-for-14 passing for 63 yards and an interception.

This year’s Wildcats finished 8-3 and, like 2011, fell one game short of the 2A title game after making back-to-back appearances in 2009 and 2010. Parker said the 2013 senior class, much like every senior class before, brought a level of leadership and motivation that helped drive the Wildcats toward another successful season.

"Technically, this class has been leaders the whole time they’ve been here," he said. "I think it’s one of the most important senior classes we’ve had. They brought it."

Parker said with the high school football realignment scheduled for 2013, with six classifications, South Summit should be one of the larger 2A schools and the outlook is bright with several key players scheduled to return to the Wildcats.

"We’re going to be fine," he said. "We’re going to reload."