Braves football picks up big road win
A common theme in the North Summit High School football team’s games this season has been a slow first half followed by an explosive offensive output in the second half. But on Friday night at American Leadership Academy, the Braves flipped the script, scoring early and often en route to a 55-12 victory.
The Braves scored their first touchdown through the air, with quarterback Ryan McMichael hitting Baltazar Martinez for a 20-yard score. Shortly thereafter, Cameron Smith intercepted an ALA pass and returned it 71 yards for another score.
North Summit coach Devin Smith said plays like that are devastating to opponents.
"In any game, that’s big," he said of the interception return. "It provides a huge amount of momentum and it can give you a spark."
It did indeed spark the Braves, with Martinez and McMichael connecting for a 24-yard touchdown and McMichael scrambling into the end zone from 36 yards out to put the Braves up 27-0.
That’s when ALA finally got on the scoreboard, returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to cut the Braves’ lead to 27-6. Smith said kickoff coverage has been a bit of a weak spot for North Summit so far this season.
"We need to work on getting better at that," he said. "A defensive turnover for a touchdown is a big momentum booster, but so too is a special-teams return. Kick coverage will definitely be a point of emphasis this week."
However, the Braves were able to quickly stifle any momentum ALA might have had when Carson Richins took a handoff and ran 95 yards for a touchdown. After a two-point conversion, North Summit found itself leading 35-6.
"That was a long one," Smith said of Richins’ run. "Carson’s running really well right now. The line’s opening up holes for him. When he gets to that second level, he’s fast and hard to catch."
McMichael, Tristan Woolstenhulme and Corben Ruf all added touchdown runs later in the game to effectively ice the game for North Summit. Smith said he was proud of the Braves’ offense, which was firing on all cylinders Friday night.
"Anytime you can execute well on offense, obviously, that’s a good thing," he said. "Hopefully that means we’re getting better on that side of the ball."
He added that the passing game had a strong performance, too, for what is normally a run-first offensive attack.
"We were able to run some play-action stuff that opened things up," he said. "The receivers made some good catches, so we were able to move the ball effectively that way."
North Summit (6-1 overall, 3-1 in 2A North) will need to keep its offensive momentum rolling this week when it squares off against county rival South Summit (6-1, 4-0). Smith said it will take a near-perfect effort to duplicate last year’s upset of the Wildcats.
"We’re going to have to play really well," he said. "We have to limit our mistakes and move the ball. South Summit is very explosive and they’re a dang good football team. We’re well aware of that."
But, he added, it’s important not to get overly excited for the matchup.
"You do have to treat it like a normal week," he said. "I don’t think I’m going to have to say too much to get our guys excited for this game and I don’t think [South Summit] coach [Jerry] Parker is going to have to say too much, either."
No matter the result, though, Smith said he’s just happy to be able to coach in a rivalry game where both teams are battling for a region title.
"We want to play as hard as we can and they want to play as hard as they can and then we’ll shake hands after the game," he said. "It’s an honor to be able to have a rivalry game like this. Both schools get excited for this one."
Friday night’s game in Coalville, North Summit v. South Summit, is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.
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