South Summit’s season ends with semifinals loss
Beaver eliminates Wildcats for second year in a row
For the second year in a row, South Summit missed out on a spot in the state-championship game after a loss to Beaver in the semifinals.
The Wildcats’ quest for an undefeated season and a state title ended on Nov. 4 after a 35-0 loss to the Beavers. Turnovers cost South Summit early, and the game spiraled out of control from there.
However, that doesn’t take away much from the Wildcats’ season.
“Kids had a great season,” South Summit coach Mike Ruf said. “They played really hard, did really well. Obviously, it’s a bummer the way things actually ended up, but it’s that way for everybody, except for who ends up at the end, right?”
South Summit turned the ball over on the opening kickoff and its next possession following a Beaver touchdown. The Wildcats trailed 14-0 after the first quarter and 21-0 at halftime. Beaver tacked on 14 more in the second half while preserving the shutout to send the top seed in Class 2A home. South Summit losing to Beaver for the second year in a row in the state semifinals added an extra sting.
“(The players) wanted a revenge game, and that can either be really good or really bad,” Ruf said. “The kids get really into it. And then when things kind of went south for us, I think it’s hard in a game like that, where there’s already kind of that mental struggle with a team and you get down by two touchdowns really early. It’s hard to come back mentally.”
For Ruf, the loss doesn’t diminish what South Summit accomplished this season. The Wildcats had an undefeated regular season, earned the top seed in their classification and made it to the state semifinals. Ruf had a saying at the beginning of the season about South Summit doing something special this year. From his perspective, that’s exactly what the Wildcats did this season, even if it didn’t end with a state title.
“The end is a bummer, but it does not take away anything from the phenomenal season that these boys had,” Ruf said. “They worked hard, they played hard. Up until that final game, we bent a few times and never broke – again, up until that final game. But they played with so much heart all season long.”
South Summit will miss its senior class this year heading into the next season. This year’s senior class includes star offensive weapon Caleby Thompson, who led the team with 1,043 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. Thompson had another 413 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns as well. But there’s more to this year’s senior class and the Wildcats’ success than just him.
“We’re losing 11 kids that have been major contributors to our team,” Ruf said. “It’s easy to focus on someone like Caleby, who was a phenomenal receiver and you see the benefits very outwardly. But without the play of our senior linemen – I mean, most of our offensive linemen were all seniors – without that play, Caleby, (quarterback Bracken) Lassche wouldn’t have been able to throw the ball to him. So, that would have been a lot less. On defense, our whole linebacker crew, our safety, we’re going to feel that.”
But Ruf also feels confident in the juniors in the program to fill in the gaps moving forward. South Summit will look to continue to be contenders in the future.
“I’ve got 28 juniors from this last year that are ready to move into senior roles,” he said. “The struggle I have is if I start naming names, I’m going to leave somebody out and I’m going to hurt somebody’s feelings. Because I have 28 out of them, and then behind them, I’ve got 25 sophomores ready for the same thing. We’re deep right now, and we’ve got a lot of kids that are really good at football ready to step into those roles.”
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