Wildcats football team shuts out South Sevier
November 11, 2014
The game’s result was already well at hand as the fourth quarter was winding down on Friday afternoon at Weber State University.
Playing in the 2A playoff semifinals, the South Summit High School football team held a 49-0 lead over South Sevier. Not even a miracle would have saved the Rams’ season at that point.
But, even though the Wildcats had clinched a berth in the state championship game for the second year in a row, the starters standing on the sidelines, long since taken out in favor of the backups in the blowout, were nervously sweating as the Rams advanced deep into South Summit territory.
With a win assured, why were the players still screaming for a fourth-down stop (which the backups ultimately got, securing the shutout)? Coach Jerry Parker explains:
"Now they don’t have to do conditioning on Monday," he said. "It’s big time – they like that."
What they’ll like even more is the chance to win a second-straight state title. After advancing to Friday’s final game, which will be played in Cedar City, the Wildcats will square off against a familiar foe – the Summit Academy Bears. South Summit defeated Summit Academy on the road 42-24.
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But first, the Wildcats will appreciate what they were able to accomplish in the semifinals. The game brought back good memories, considering it was the site of the 2A state final last year, where South Summit rolled to a win against Grand.
"I love playing here," running back Isaac Tillett said. "It’s a good stadium. It brought back a ton of good memories, wonderful memories."
"It was awesome," linebacker Daxton Hansen agreed. "It was déjà vu, basically – being in that locker room again and in this atmosphere again."
It took a while for the Wildcats’ offense to get going, but once it did, it didn’t stop. Parker said a few new plays may have been to blame for early miscues offensively.
"We’re always trying to stretch ourselves, so we do new things all the time," he said. "We want to make other teams adjust, so we were doing things we normally don’t do. That was part of it. But then we settled down and went to work."
Tillett scored the only first-quarter touchdown, cruising into the end zone from 38 yards out.
In the second quarter, the offense found its stride, picking up 21 points to take a 28-0 lead into halftime. First, Matt Brady caught a two-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ty Jones. Then, Jones found Tillett on a deep crossing route for a 60-yard score. Jones then added a 10-yard scoring run with less than a minute left before intermission.
In the third quarter, Colby Averett barreled into the end zone from 13 yards out and Tillett added a one-yard touchdown run before the backups came in for the fourth quarter.
Running back Luke Siddoway scored on a nine-yard run early in the fourth for the game’s final points.
After scoring three touchdowns on the day, Tillett said his offensive outburst was just a product of the Wildcats’ system. He added that he doesn’t envy defensive coordinators who have to game plan for the Wildcats.
"I think it’s very difficult," he said. "If you shut down one of us, there’s three more of us who can get it done. It’s pick your poison, basically, with us."
Parker said Tillett’s touchdown catch, where he made an impressive fingertip grab at a full sprint, really showcased his speed.
"He’s got more speed than we know," he said. "He seems to always do that. It was a great catch."
"[Jones] just likes to throw it out there for me because he knows I’ll go get it," Tillett added.
Defensively, the Wildcats are much different than last year’s opportunistic unit that relied heavily on forcing turnovers. This year, the defense just rarely allows opponents to cross midfield.
"Our takeaway ratio isn’t that good at all and that’s a real emphasis for us," Parker said. "For whatever reason, this team just does their jobs. Last year, we were forcing the ball out everywhere. Now we don’t get many turnovers, but we get big stops. We make teams punt a lot."
"We’re a lot more disciplined," Hansen added. "We go to our drops and we’re doing our assignments – that helps a lot."
Though the Wildcats have been cruising to easy wins most of the season, Parker’s squad isn’t taking anything lightly this week in practice.
"Summit Academy is talented," he said. "When they put it together, they can be scary and they’ve been playing really well. More than anything, we just need to stay with it this week. We need to do what we do and stay with it. Sometimes you get to the state game and think you have to change a bunch of stuff, but we’re going to do what we do."
Facing a road trip of more than three hours, Parker added that the Wildcats shouldn’t be affected too much.
"Our kids travel pretty well," he said. "We approach it as a business trip, but we don’t put many restrictions on them. The kids have to be kids. I want them to have fun with this. Our kids are well behaved. We’ll get on the bus and go down and probably stay over [on Thursday night] because it’s the early game [on Friday]. Then we’ll get up and we’ll go play football."
Hansen, a senior, echoed a theme Jones and the other seniors have been saying all season – last year’s title was great, but winning state this year would be even better.
"Last year it meant a lot, don’t get me wrong," he said. "But it’s just not the same as your senior year. You want to go out as best you can."
Friday’s 2A state championship game between South Summit and Summit Academy will take place at 11 a.m. at Southern Utah University.
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