Braves, Wildcats prepare for semis
Summit County will have a strong showing in Cedar City on Saturday afternoon, when both the North Summit Braves and South Summit Wildcats descend on Southern Utah University for the 2A state football semifinals.
With only one win from each team separating fans from a Wildcats-Braves title bout, both squads have tough tests this weekend.
First, in the 11 a.m. game, North Summit (8-2 overall, 5-1 in region) will square off against Grand, a team boasting a 9-1 record and a 5-1 mark in the 2A South region.
North Summit coach Devin Smith said stopping Grand’s athletes from making big plays is going to be crucial.
"They have good athletes," he said. "Their quarterback is a very good athlete and they like to have him run quite a bit."
Grand also sports a big, strong offensive line, Smith said, noting that the Braves will have to use their speed and good form tackling to counteract their opponent’s strength.
"They run a zone read look out of the shotgun," he said. "They have several different formations they like to run out of and they like to pull their linemen. We’ll have to have our linebackers chase the linemen and make tackles."
Offensively, Smith said the Braves aren’t going to make any drastic changes to their triple-option scheme. He said they’ll focus on doing what they do well and forcing Grand to step up and make plays.
"We’re mostly just focusing on going against their schemes and recognizing what they’re going to do," he said. "And, of course, working on the basics like firing off the football and sustaining blocks."
Overall, he said the team is fired up for the chance to advance to the finals.
"They’re excited about the opportunity for our school to be back in the semis," he said. "It’s been five years since we’ve been here, but we’re trying not to blow it way out of proportion."
At 1:30 p.m., the Braves’ rivals will take the field. South Summit (9-1 overall, 5-1 in region) will take on Beaver (9-1 overall, 6-0 in region), the top-ranked 2A South team.
The Wildcats won’t be in the dark about Beaver’s systems, though, as South Summit routed Beaver 37-6 in Kamas earlier this season.
"We have our film on them and some more recent film," South Summit coach Jerry Parker said. "They’re definitely getting better, just like most teams this time of year."
With 348 points scored and only 109 points allowed this season, Beaver ranks second in 2A in both categories. But, Parker said, the Wildcats aren’t too concerned with those stats.
"We just so happen to be first in those categories," he said. "They’ve closed the gap though, for sure."
Indeed, with 402 points scored and just 69 points allowed, the Wildcats are the top team in 2A. So, Parker said, his team is aiming to prove the Beavers haven’t closed the gap by too much.
The Wildcats caught a break in terms of health this week. When cornerback Quinn Zimmerman went down during the quarterfinal win against San Juan, Parker didn’t think the junior would be healthy for Saturday.
"We were busy all weekend figuring out how we could shuffle things around," he said.
But Zimmerman recovered quickly and is suiting up for the showdown at Southern Utah University.
"He’s good," Parker said. "They think it was a strained ligament, but he’s back at full speed."
As far as on-the-field action goes, defensively, Parker said everything begins and ends with the run game.
"You stop the run first," he said. "It’s a plus any time you can stop the run and force a team to throw."
And offensively, he hopes to control the line of scrimmage with a balanced attack.
"Our offense is clicking," he said. "It’s firing on all cylinders. We’re playing really well these last two games and I hope that continues."
If one or both of the Summit County schools win on Saturday, they’ll play in the 2A title game on Saturday, Nov. 16, at Weber State University in Ogden.
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.