Braves to lean on youth in 2022

The Braves are coming off a 5-6 season last year

The youth movement is underway in Coalville, as football coach Jerre Helmes has the youngest team he’s ever had heading into the 2022 season. 

“We’re going to be young, but I like the way we’re working,” Holmes said. “Our eight seniors are working hard. Our seven or eight juniors are working hard. And so, with those few in numbers in those upper two classes, we’re going to depend a lot on some sophomores.”

Holmes returned as North Summit’s football coach last year, and the Braves finished the year 5-6 with an appearance in the Class 1A state quarterfinals. Along with a shutout win over Rich in the opening round of the playoffs, one of the highlights of last season was toppling Delta, a Class 2A team, at home to start the year. The Braves are looking to repeat the feat when they face the Rabbits on the road to start the season next Friday. 

“They came here last year, and we sneaked one out on them and beat them,” Holmes said. “We were down at halftime, made a great comeback. So, they’ll be a little hungry for us. I think we maybe sneaked up on them last year. They didn’t know what we’d be like since they’re bigger. But they’ll be ready for us this year.”

To get the most out of his young team, Holmes is counting on his seniors to step up as leaders. Inexperience, depth and health are his primary concerns. 

“We need more leadership at our upper grades,” he said. “Anytime you’re riding the backs of sophomores, you’ve got to have good leadership at the top. And so, that’s what we’ll be trying to focus on. We’re not very deep, and so we’ve got to stay healthy. And there’s no guarantee on that.”

Still, Holmes isn’t planning on playing the youth card if things go sideways in 2022.

“We’ve had smaller classes, but never two together like we’ve got,” he said. “We live with it, and it’s certainly not going to be our excuse for whatever happens to us. It’s going to hopefully make us hungrier.”

Playing so many younger players may pay dividends for the Braves down the road, but Holmes is focused on this year. And more importantly, he’s focused on Week 1. North Summit will have its hands full early with Delta before hosting rival South Summit on Aug. 19 and Layton Christian Academy on Aug. 26.

“Yeah, the future’s bright, but we’re focused on today,” Holmes said. “We owe it to our seniors to make the best out of this season because this is the only one they have left. So, yeah, I like what we see down the road, but I’m excited about today.”

Running back Ian Koyle and offensive lineman Nathan Stolle are among the few seniors on North Summit’s team. Koyle has been impressed by the team’s large group of sophomores.

“They’re all hardworking,” he said. “I think they’re the hardest-working grade I’ve ever played with, so I think they’re great.”

Koyle enjoys being a part of North Summit’s option-based offense, but he noted that it has its quirks. 

“You got to learn to block, you got to learn to take some hits that, really, you don’t have the ball when you get hit,” he said. “But as long as you’re gaining yards or someone’s gaining yards, it’s fine.”

Stolle has also been impressed by the sophomore class.

“We have a lot of sophomores stepping up, and they’re looking good,” he said. “They’re looking a lot better than we were as sophomores.”

He also recalled how important North Summit’s then-seniors were when he was a freshman. Playing on a team that is looking for leaders to step up, Stolle will have to be one for his younger teammates.

“It came by fast, super fast,” he said. “It feels like I was a freshman last year. It’s weird, it’s weird thinking about all the seniors when I was a freshman. Because I haven’t really given them a thought since then, but it’s weird because they had a big impact on me.”


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