Wildcats advance to 2A title game
Ever since he was a freshman at South Summit High School, Ty Jones has dreamed of taking the Wildcats’ football team to the 2A state championship game and winning.
Now the junior quarterback will have his chance, thanks to a hard-fought, big-hitting 14-7 victory in the semifinal round against Beaver on Saturday afternoon at Southern Utah University.
Jones’s 10-yard touchdown run with 3:41 left in the second quarter quickly followed by his 26-yard touchdown pass to senior Jordan McNair with only 10 seconds left in the first half provided all the offense the Wildcats would need to hold off a much-improved Beaver team.
"They were good," Jones admitted. "They’re very frustrating and they’ll aggravate you defensively."
After beating Beaver 37-6 in Kamas earlier this season, Jones and South Summit coach Jerry Parker knew their team was in for a much tougher battle this time around.
"We were only picked to win by 10 this time," Jones said. "And it’s always tough playing the same team twice [in the same season]. They study you and they figure you out."
"That first game was just a warm-up for them," Parker added. "You knew they were going to come back and play hard it doesn’t surprise me a bit. I knew it would be tight."
Things could have ended much differently for South Summit if not for the outstanding play of its defense. With their backs against the wall on Beaver’s first two offensive possessions, the Wildcats forced an interception and a turnover on downs, stopping the Beavers from getting on the scoreboard until early in the second half.
"We have a lot of confidence in our defense," Parker said. "Our defense has been stellar all year. We lead the state in points against and there’s a reason for that."
McNair, who plays cornerback in addition to receiver, found himself in the middle of several big defensive plays. He snagged the interception on Beaver’s first possession and also ended up with the football at the bottom of a pile on a Beaver fumble in the second half.
"We knew this was a big game," McNair said. "We knew they had big players. I just had to do my assignment and not worry about anything else."
McNair limped off the field after a fourth-down desperation heave from the Beavers fell short, securing a Wildcat victory. But even though his calf was wrapped in ice after the game, he wasn’t worried about his availability for the title game.
"That last play of the game, I went to stretch out for the ball and just started cramping up," he said. "I’m fine."
The Wildcats will need McNair and everyone else at full strength if they want to defeat Grand and take home the 2A state championship on Saturday in Ogden.
"Grand is big up front and they have good speed," Parker said. "We definitely have to take care of their speed on defense. Offensively, we have to move the ball. We kind of stalled offensively in the second half [against Beaver] for whatever reason. We have to move the ball."
If South Summit can execute that game plan on Saturday at Weber State University at 4 p.m., it will claim its first state championship since 1988.
"That would mean everything," McNair said. "This is the 100th year of our school and we want to go out and do something special like this so no one will ever forget it."
For Jones, it would be a great way to have three years of hard work pay off and a perfect send-off for his senior teammates.
"I’m so grateful to have this chance with my team it’s amazing," he said. "I’ve played with these friends my whole life. It would be the best feeling in the world to go out and win [the title] with them."
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.