North Summit football hangs tough with 2A power |

North Summit football hangs tough with 2A power

By most preseason rankings, the Beaver High School football team was one of the top two teams in 2A, along with the South Summit Wildcats. On Friday night in Coalville, the North Summit Braves proved they should be considered a top-tier team as well.

After the Beavers scored on a 42-yard pass from Matthew Roberts to Brennan Hutchings on their first possession of the game, the first quarter ended with the visitors leading 7-0. Beaver scored again midway through the second quarter, this time on a two-yard run by Tyce Raddon, to take a 14-0 lead.

Just before halftime, however, North Summit quarterback Braxten Northrup hit Jace Hirzel on a 55-yard touchdown pass to cut Beaver’s lead to 14-7 at the intermission.

In the third quarter, Luke Keisel intercepted a Beaver pass to set up a 30-yard field goal from Gonzalo Portillo to cut the Beavers’ lead to 14-10 heading into the final quarter of play.

On North Summit’s next possession, Tristan Woolstenhulme scored on a five-yard touchdown run to give the Braves their first lead of the game at 17-14. On the ensuing Beaver possession, though, Roberts drove his team down the field, eventually scoring on a three-yard run to put the Beavers up 21-17.

After each team responded with turnovers on downs, North Summit had one final chance to retake the lead. But, with mere seconds left and in need of a miracle, Northrup’s Hail Mary pass was intercepted and Beaver held on for the narrow 21-17 road victory.

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Despite the home loss, which dropped North Summit to 2-2 on the season, Coach Devin Smith said the Braves should be proud of how they played on Friday.

"I take away a lot more positives than I do negatives," he said. "We had four of our defensive starters out with either injuries or suspensions, which makes a huge difference. Our kids played their guts out. Beaver is a really good team. We don’t like to lose, but I don’t think anybody can feel too bad about that one."

Though Smith was hesitant to say the missing players affected the outcome of the game, he did say depth is a concern when so many key players are out.

"I don’t want to discredit the kids that took their places, because they stepped up and played well," he said. "When you’re at a small school, you don’t have a lot of depth. That might have made the difference — we’ll never know — but I’m proud of the kids that were in there and I’m certainly not going to fault their efforts."

After a tough loss at Enterprise last week, Smith said he saw some offensive improvement against Beaver, especially in the passing game. He said it’s important for the Braves to have a balanced passing and running attack.

"We made them play us honest, at least," he said. "I feel like we’re heading in the right direction and making teams play us honestly. [The offense] is continuing to improve. Our linemen still need to improve, and they’re working hard toward that. I’m hard on them because I coach the offensive line, but we’re on the right track. We took care of the ball better today and our backs continue to do their parts, too."

Smith was encouraged by the fact that North Summit only committed two turnovers on Friday night, one of which was on the last-ditch Hail Mary attempt. He said that shows how good the Braves can be if they hang on to the football.

"It tells us we can play with anybody in 2A," he said. "I’m going to tell our kids to keep their heads up. I know we got beat, but I’m really encouraged by that effort and knowing what we’re capable of."

North Summit starts 2A North region play this Friday at home against Gunnison (1-3). Smith said it’s important to get region play started on the right foot.

"We’ve got to still be focused on getting better," he said. "Even though it was a great effort [on Friday], we still lost and we can’t be satisfied with just a great effort. We have to come out and really play hard and look to improve in all the areas of the game, but especially on offense. We have to score more points and continue to take care of the ball."

Friday night’s homecoming game in Coalville is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. at North Summit High School.