Wildcats victorious in homecoming blowout over North Summit | ParkRecord.com

Wildcats victorious in homecoming blowout over North Summit

Offensive line praised in 53-7 win

South Summit High School cheerleaders extend cans of smoke into the air, filling the sky with green and white colors as the football team takes the field Friday evening, October 13, 2017. The Wildcats took on their rival, North Summit High School, for their homecoming game that evening. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

Early in the North Summit versus South Summit homecoming game in Kamas, the South Summit Wildcats showed their talent. After a Braves kickoff (and re-kick,) the Wildcats drove up the field until they were within 15 yards of the end zone. An illegal block in the back and a holding call stopped the Wildcats from scoring, recalled a touchdown and forced a turnover, but it was already clear the 'Cats would be hard to handle.

They made their first decisive move shortly after receiving a Braves punt, when quarterback Kael Atkinson threw to receiver Keegan Stracher, who shrugged off a tackle, dipped away from a safety and sprinted half the length of the field to the Braves' end zone: a 73-yard play.

There was still 7:54 left in the first quarter, but it might as well have been the game.

South Summit High School junior quarterback Kael Atkinson (16) escapes a tackle from North Summit after the snap and looks to pass the ball downfield during the second quarter of their homecoming rivalry matchup on Friday, October 13, 2017. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

The Braves, in fifth of six teams in Class 2A North region, struggled against the Wildcats (already mathematically deemed the North region champions), and never again found a solid position to fight against the 'Cats.

By the start of the second quarter, the Wildcats were up 20-0, and were just starting to find their stride.

The home team dipped into its war chest and came out with elaborate and improbable plays, including a hook-and-ladder play to a former North Summit tackle and a play that turned what would have been a 10-yard sack for a loss into a 20-yard touchdown run.

Another highlight: a deep one-handed catch from Stracher.

"It was awesome," he said after the game. "I couldn't even see it at first in the light then all of a sudden I just stuck my hand out. I've caught two others this season, but not quite like that."

The Braves picked up seven points in the final minutes of the game, but couldn't close the gap. South Summit won 53-7.

"Being homecoming and senior night, a lot of events happen all week so you hope the kids at least remember we have a game on Friday night," said Mike Grajek, South Summit's head coach. "I just said to them 'You guys have worked hard all summer, all season, you've had fun this week but we've got to finish. Everyone's here to watch your show, and we have to finish and play your best.'"

Atkinson said it felt good winning the homecoming game, especially since North Summit has won in the past. He said, in particular, the offensive line and receivers did a great job.

"I think they are the best in the state so I give a lot of credit to them to be able to open things up," he said. "I think we have the best offense in the state. Nobody can match up with us."

Grajek agreed with Atkinson's appraisal of the offensive line.

"We don't have that success without them," he said. "We had a few guys banged up on limited duty tonight and their replacements did an excellent job as well, and it just shows the strength of our team overall."

He said the defense also had an unbelievable game, managing a shutout until the last few minutes of the game, when North Summit scored from a recovered fumble.

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As for North Summit, Grajek said the Braves were disadvantaged because many of their linemen had to play both offense and defense.

"So no matter what happens in the first couple minutes, we're going to wear them down," he said.
"I (told the team) 'Just keep plugging away and everything will be alright.'"

Grajek said the team has been coming together well leading into the state playoffs. Recently the team held a "gold game" against Delta High School, in which the team wore gold jerseys to support Ava Woodward, a local girl who was diagnosed with cancer and in the process raised $4000 toward her medical bills.

"That's really helped our kids understand to be selfless and that it's more than just football," Grajek said.

The Wildcats (9-0, 5-0) are gearing up for a Class 2A state run, with rivals Beaver, which South Summit defeated earlier this season, entering as the South's No. 1 seed.