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Wildcats football takes down Braves

Last year, the North Summit High School football team traveled to Kamas and eked out a narrow 26-24 victory over county rival (and previously unbeaten) South Summit, handing the Wildcats their only loss in a season in which they’d go on to win the 2A state championship.

That game was clearly still on the minds of the Wildcats on Friday night in Coalville, when South Summit got its first chance for payback.

"We’ve had a burr under our saddle since last year," South Summit coach Jerry Parker said. "That was definitely something we felt we needed to rectify."

For a while, though, it looked as if the Braves once again had the Wildcats’ number. On the first possession of the game, South Summit quarterback Ty Jones fumbled, setting up the Braves in good field position.

North Summit capitalized when Tristan Woolstenhulme dodged his way into the end zone from two yards out to give the Braves a 6-0 lead. Then, the North Summit defense forced the Wildcats to punt on their next possession.

That’s when South Summit started to get on track. The defense forced the Braves to punt, but a bad snap ended in a safety, making the score 6-2. On the ensuing Wildcat possession, Ty Jones threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Quinn Zimmerman and Bracken Santos added a two-point conversion to make it 10-6 South Summit.

The Wildcats never looked back. On their next drive, Colby Averett scored a three-yard touchdown to make it 17-6 at halftime.

Coming out of the break, North Summit sustained a long offensive drive, ending in Woolstenhulme’s second touchdown run of the game, this time from a yard out.

That was the last score the Braves would get, though. On South Summit’s next possession, Averett found the end zone again. Then, Isaac Tillett scored on a 25-yard run to put the icing on the Wildcats’ 31-12 victory.

Parker said the Wildcats played a great game on Friday night.

"The kids came in here with a really good attitude," he said. "They knew the Coalville kids would be tough, and they were. That’s a good team we played. We needed our ‘A’ game."

"It was great," Santos added. "They got us last year we were supposed to beat them by 31 last year. We knew we couldn’t underestimate them this year. We knew they get better as they go along. They’re a good team, so we just had to give it our best."

Though Santos and Jones didn’t hook up for a touchdown this week, like they’ve been doing all season long, the duo connected for a few big plays and first downs in key spots.

North Summit coach Devin Smith said the catches by Santos were critical plays in the loss.

"I thought our defense played really well," he said. "There were a couple times we took some risks in pass defense on drives, but you have to when you’re behind a little bit. Those three fade routes [to Santos] in the first half hurt us bad. Those are the things we can work on to correct."

"They played Bracken tight and he’s good if you play him tight," Parker added. "We knew [the fade] was there, it was just a matter of us taking it when we needed it."

Santos said the chemistry between he and Jones goes back a long way.

"We’ve been friends since we’ve been five, so we’ve just had that connection all through our lives little league, junior high, high school, everything," he said. "We’ve just been there for each other. We’ve played basketball and football together and just have the best connection."

Despite the loss, Smith said he was happy with the intensity and effort the Braves played with on Friday.

"I thought we played pretty well," he said. "I thought the game was closer than the score indicated. They’re a good football team, so give them credit. They’re explosive. Our kids played their guts out and I’m proud of them."

Smith added that he thought the Braves needed to sustain possession a little longer if they wanted to have a shot at beating South Summit.

"We didn’t chew any clock and we went three-and-out several times," he said. "That kills you against a team like this. We’ve got to be able to keep the ball longer."

Parker, on the other hand, thought the Braves controlled the ball too much. He said he thought the North Summit defense was the best 2A defense the Wildcats have faced all year but added that, sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.

"[The Braves] were staying on offense too long," Parker said when asked what the North Summit defense did well in holding the Wildcats to their lowest point total against a 2A team this season. "They had the ball the whole third quarter. That’s what they do really well they stall and get what they need and keep moving the chains. That means we don’t get as many opportunities on offense. Then, when you get those opportunities, you start tightening up a little bit because you know how important it is."

Moving forward, South Summit (7-1 overall, 5-0 in 2A North) and North Summit (6-2, 3-2) both have short weeks to prepare for their final regular-season games. The Wildcats will take on Millard and the Braves will square off against Layton Christian.

Smith said the important thing for the Braves will be quickly moving on from Friday’s loss.

"We’ll take a close look at film and look at things we can fix, but we can’t dwell on this," he said. "We’ve got a lot of football to play before we could potentially meet [South Summit] again and we’ve got to take care of business Wednesday to lock up third [in 2A North]. That’s going to be big."

Santos said the Wildcats aren’t going to get ahead of themselves by thinking about the playoffs.

"We’ve got Millard first," he said. "We can’t overlook them. We’ll give them our best and show them we can play and then, hopefully, we’ll get the bye in the first round."

"Millard’s tough," Parker added. They’re hitters and they come at you, so we’ve got to be ready. We want to get through that game without any injuries and then, hopefully, we’ll have a week off with the bye and we’ll recharge."

Wednesday night’s game in Kamas, featuring South Summit and Millard is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. Wednesday night will also see North Summit host Layton Christian in Coalville at 7 p.m.


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