South Summit still has aspirations of three-peat despite jump to Class 3A
Winning back-to-back state championships would put an obvious target on your back. For South Summit High School, the Wildcats won’t have the opportunity to make it a perfect 3-for-3 in Class 2A because they’ll be moving up a classification after winning the previous two 2A titles.
“It will definitely be a challenge compared to what we are used too,” said Jon Snyder, South Summit football coach. “More than anything, though, we are up for the challenge.”
Apart from the move up a division, the Wildcats will be under the direction of a new head coach in Snyder, who was promoted from his role as an assistant for the past two seasons. Snyder previously was the head coach at Stansbury before arriving at South Summit.
The biggest difference for South Summit this season is the jump in competition.
“There are officially no easy weeks for us now,” Snyder said. “I mean, who we will be playing in our region, which is one of the toughest in the state in my opinion, we will have to play our best every time because everyone is talented.”
Last season, the Wildcats finished 11-1, with their lone loss coming to 4A Park City 27-13 early in the season. In their other 11 games, the Wildcats outscored their opponents by 341 points total and averaged 45 points per game while allowing a mere 14. Their road to the state title in the playoffs came rather easily as well as South Summit averaged a winning score of 40-18 in the three games, including a 50-25 victory over Grand County in the championship.
Although Snyder inherits a team that loses a lot of seniors, there’s no reason he believes the Wildcats should take a step back. One of the biggest things he’s seen with this year’s unit is a team that is very driven and hard working. They’re always ready for practice and understand what’s expected of them despite the jump up in competition, he says.
“I’ve coached pretty much everywhere and yet I still love this place because of the type of kids you get to come through the program,” Snyder said. “This a team that is full of hard workers who are all coachable and will rise to any occasion thrown at them.”
According to Snyder, the Wildcats aren’t very big but they’ve got quite a few good athletes.
Offensively, South Summit will run a flex-bone offense, a combination of the read-option while also throwing the ball through the air. The misdirection created by their style of play helps offset the difference when facing bigger and more physical teams.
“We definitely have some athletes that be able to do some damage when they get the ball in their hands,” Snyder said. “You better play the whole field against us, otherwise, we will make you pay for it.”
Snyder describes his defense as “gritty” and “nasty.” He has a lot of trust in his leaders on that side of the ball, knowing the kids understand what their tasks are and trusting them to get the job done.
As a new head coach, Snyder is using the preseason as a way to gauge the level of talent he has and to make any corrections needed prior to region play. The first three games feature last season’s 1A state champion and now 2A challenger Milford, rival North Summit high school and Beaver, a 2A state semifinalist from last year.
“Knowing how tough our region is, it’s part of the reason why our preseason is so difficult,” Snyder said. “We are still feeling it out amongst ourselves and oftentimes you don’t know who you are until you get into your first game.”
To get an idea of how the Wildcats might fare in 3A, they’ve defeated Morgan the past two years, including a 20-14 victory last season. Morgan went on to be the No. 1 seed in the North part of the bracket, eventually falling in the state semifinals.
For that reason alone, Snyder sees no reason to have any expectations less than what they have been in the past. Despite the move up a classification against much tougher teams, despite the new coach and the loss of a talented senior class, Snyder and the Wildcats still believe a state championship is their only goal and that’s what they’ll be playing for.
Prior to publication, the Wildcats opened their season with a home game against Milford on Friday evening. They will return to action next Friday when they face rival North Summit, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. from South Summit High School.
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