Experienced players will help North Summit football
The North Summit High School football field underwent several major changes this offseason.
Starting in May, construction crews began removing dirt and leveling out the old playing surface, which was higher in the middle than on the sidelines. After an extensive process to level the ground, a turf field was inserted in the same location as the old field, providing the Braves with a new surface to play their games on.
North Summit Coach Devin Smith said the team is anxious to break in its new home field.
“Our community is excited about it,” he said. “It’s something new. We haven’t had anything like this in our town for a long time, so we’re excited to get out and start playing games on it.”
Though the field will be much different in 2016, the team hosting games on it will look very similar. Smith said the Braves return several key players from the 2015 squad that lost to eventual state champion Beaver in the 2A semifinals.
“We have a lot of our skill guys back, both offensively and defensively,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got some good experience. Hopefully that pays off for us.”
Quarterback Braxten Northrup returns to lead the North Summit offense, which also features star running backs Tristan Woolstenhulme and Rand Pentz. Smith said he expects big things from the running game, even though the offensive line is younger than it has been in years past.
“It’s nice,” he said. “[Northrup, Pentz and Woolstenhulme] are our bread and butter. Everybody knows that. To have guys like that is a nice cushion, a luxury. But they’ll be the first ones to tell you that the guys in front of them are the ones who make it work.
“We have some good size [on the offensive line], but we’re a little bit inexperienced. I feel like we’re more than capable, though. There will be some growing pains there, but I like our line — they just need some experience.”
Smith said he’s excited to see Northrup take the next step in his senior season with the Braves.
“The biggest thing with Braxten is he’s always been a good athlete and he’s got a pretty high football IQ,” Smith said. “It’s been fun to see him mature mentally and turn into a leader.”
Defensively, Smith said he anticipates a fast start to the season.
“Especially early on, that’s going to be our strength,” he said. “We bring back seven starters on defense. There’s a lot of experience there and we have some tough guys who can run. We’re not going to do anything fancy — we’re going to play outside in and try to keep teams contained.”
As the Braves play their first four games — none of which are against 2A North opponents — Smith said he wants to see an increased focus on ball security offensively.
“Early last year, we turned the ball over a ton,” he said. “We got better as the year went on, but it almost cost us the Duchesne game — I think we turned it over five times in that game — and it did cost us the Enterprise game. When we played Enterprise, we had 450 yards of offense and they had 150, but we just turned it over too much. We really want to focus on taking care of the football.”
Though the North Summit schedule features a playoff rematch against Beaver and the always important rivalry game against South Summit, Smith said the Braves will prepare for each opponent with respect. By focusing only on the task at hand, Smith hopes North Summit can build toward a special ending to the 2016 season.
“We want to worry about the journey and getting there,” he said. “But it sure would be nice if we’re playing on that last Saturday in November.”
North Summit starts the 2016 season on Friday by hosting Layton Christian. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Coalville.
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.