South Summit defeats Beaver in rivalry game at home
Coach says solid defense crucial in earning the win
Even to the uninitiated it was clear Friday night was big for South Summit High School. The parking lots were full. Cars, trucks, vans and SUVs lined the streets from 200 E Avenue nearly solidly to Center Street.
Even though it was still light out, South Summit’s football floodlights pointed to the action. Beaver High School’s football team, in blue and white, took the field facing the hometown Wildcats in a running rivalry. Beaver has won the 2A state championship two years running, with South Summit close behind.
On Friday, both teams were 3-0, making for a matchup that South Summit athletic director Shad Stevens wanted everyone to see.
“We’ve been pushing and wanting everybody to know how big tonight was for the team, for the community,” he said on the sideline, dressed in team regalia. “We’re here at home tonight, we’ve got a great chance, we’ve got a good team and the energy is high so we are looking forward to it.”
The home team got what they wanted, beating the Beavers 30-7 through a strong defensive showing.
The first quarter ended 0-0 after both teams created incisive but unfruitful plays, including a Wildcats break into the end zone, called back from a block in the back. The Beavers answered with an interception, but were unable to score.
Both teams earned their first points in the second quarter. First, South Summit’s quarterback Keal Atkinson looked for pass from his pocket near centerfield. After seeing nothing, he cut right and, with the help of solid blocking, ran to Beaver’s end zone. The wall of students in green and white erupted with cheers.
Cole Georgi’s kick was good.
South Summit’s defense then stifled the Beaver offense, forcing a turnover on downs that put Atkinson in the driver’s seat again. During the Wildcats’ drive up field, Atkinson spotted wide receiver Parker Grajek. The 40-yard pass-and-run put the Wildcats up 14-0.
Beaver’s Porter Hollingshead passed to Rhett Jordan, who turned, juked the Wildcats’ safeties, and ran wide for a Beavers touchdown, putting the visitors on the board.
In the third quarter, like the first, neither team could score.
“I think that, (in the) third quarter, they came out hungry and we came out hungry and it was just a defensive battle and neither team found the end zone,” said Mike Grajek, South Summit’s head football coach. “The score doesn’t really depict how close the game was.”
The Wildcats secured the win over their rivals in the fourth quarter through a 24-yard field goal by Georgi, then a 15-yard Atkinson pass to Keegan Stracher and a 16-yuard run by Jared Dansie. Atkinson put the final point on the board when he put the extra point kick through the uprights.
When Grajek reflected on the game, it was the defense that came first to his mind.
“With the type of offense we run, our defense doesn’t get enough recognition and they really stepped up,” he said, listing a goal-line stop at the end of the first half to keep the Wildcats ahead.
“And, at the end of the third quarter, we had a fumble recovery inside the five yard line,” he said. “The momentum could have swung either way — the defense played spectacular.”
In particular, Alex Johnson’s effort as defensive end stood out, the coach said. Johnson was responsible for pressuring the quarterback and earned two sacks during the game.
Two middle linebackers, Jaxon Sergeant and Hagen Miles, also played a crucial role, according to Grajek, as did Georgi, a free safety.
“As small as he is, (he) put some punishing blows on Beaver’s big running backs,” Grajek said of Georgi.
Grajek said the Beaver game had been on the team’s radar since pre-season. Since then they had been looking forward only as far as the fourth game of the season.
“It was funny, after the game I was talking to one of the Beaver parents — a longtime friend down there — and he said ‘Who do you have next week?’ And I thought for a second and I had no idea,” Grajek said.
The answer is, American Leadership at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15, but before then the team will continue to tighten its game.
“We tell the kids, ‘That was a great gauge,’” Grajek said. “We saw where we were and exposed some things we need to work on, but the big thing is, if were willing to come together close as a team. … We don’t know how hard (other teams) are working so we have to give our best effort in practice and get better every day.”
Grajek said he expects to see Beaver again, either in the playoffs or at state.
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