Wildcats look to get over hump
A construction crew was busy installing visitors’ bleachers on the far side of the South Summit High School football field on Monday afternoon, increasing the seating capacity for the upcoming season.
A rope course, tractor tires and blocking sleds sat in the piercing sunlight, untouched. The soccer goals were still nestled under the field goal posts.
All that will change on Monday, July 29. That’s when the Wildcats will hold their first practice of the season. It’ll only be a conditioning practice no pads or tackling but the optimism will be high.
Manti, the only team to keep South Summit off the scoreboard last year during a 21-0 victory, has moved up a level to 3-1A. That just leaves San Juan, the team that knocked the Wildcats out during the 2A state semifinals 15-9 last year, as the biggest challenge for coach Jerry Parker’s team.
When asked to sum up last season, Parker can condense it to five words: close, but not close enough.
"We’ve had four years now where we’ve been right there," he said. "We’ve had opportunities, but we just struggle to get by San Juan and Manti."
Though the road will be easier for the Wildcats in 2013, Parker said it’s important not to take things for granted.
"San Juan will still be San Juan," he said. "We’ve just got to get over the hump."
South Summit will rely on several key returning players to help in its quest to have its best season to date.
"Probably the No. 1 returner we have is Brad Richins," Parker said. "He plays defensive end and offensive tackle. He’s tough. I think he’s the best end in 2A, so it starts with him."
Joining him on the offensive line will be two other returning starters, Ty Clegg and Breydon Crystal.
"We’ll also have Victor Thornton coming in who subbed a lot last year," Parker said. "So our line is going to be good."
The Wildcats, known for their running prowess, will once again feature a strong ground attack, led by fullback/middle linebacker Colby Averett.
"We’ll have some other returning players that will fill in there too in the backfield," Parker said.
Speed will be a factor on offense as well.
"We’ll have the two fastest kids left in 2A in the 100-yard dash in Keyton Gines and Isaac Tillett," Parker said.
Though the offense will feature the running game, Parker said this year’s squad won’t be afraid to air it out from time-to-time either.
"If you look at my history, it looks like I run more than I throw," he said. "But I just do what we’re good at. Will we run? Yeah, we’ll run, and we’ll run effectively. Will we throw? I think this year we’ll be able to throw. Our quarterback coming in, Ty Jones, is a junior. He can throw and run, and we have good receivers, so I have no problem airing it out more."
Defensively, Parker said the Wildcats are stout against the run, but the back end is cause for concern.
"They won’t run on us," he said. "Our emphasis is on our coverage. Most of the teams we play are run-oriented and we don’t see much passing until playoff time. We only have one returner among the defensive backs, and that’s Steven Flinders at free safety."
With games against Park City and Morgan (the No. 1-ranked team in 3-1A) leading off the season, Parker’s squad will be tested early.
"In years past, my philosophy was I wanted to play a game where we could get all our guys on the field and see what we had," he said. "We always played 1A Altamont, and that worked out really well. But that’s a thing of the past now."
Overall, though, he’s happy with the potential this year’s Wildcat squad has and is excited to get the season underway.
"More than anything, since I’ve been here, we haven’t won a division championship," he said. "We’ve always had either San Juan or Manti in our league and they’ve always won it. So that would be high on my list winning the division."
South Summit Varsity Schedule
Aug. 23 at Park City
Aug. 30 vs. Morgan
Sept. 6 at American Leadership
Sept. 13 vs. Beaver
Sept. 20 vs. Summit Academy
Sept. 27 at Gunnison
Oct. 4 vs. Layton Christian
Oct. 11 vs. North Summit
Oct. 18 at Millard
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.