South Summit High School football is headed to the state finals.
South Summit had an uncharacteristically slow start to their semi-final football game against Millard last week as they lead just 14-3 at half. Coach Mike Grajek says it was partially due to Millard’s defensive schemes, but he also says that he knew the team was just inches away from success.
“We would just barely drop a ball or just barely overthrew a ball or tripped up as we’re going through the line. At halftime I just showed them what an inch looks like. Holding my finger up and I said that’s the difference between us being up 11 points or us being up 20 or 30. It’s just one inch. You’ve got to just keep believing in what we do. I think that they did and we had a few things go our way in the second half. It was 34-3 late in the fourth quarter.”
The final score was 34-10 and the South Summit Wildcats advanced to the 2A state football finals. The Wildcats will take on the Grand County Red Devils of Moab. Coach Grajek says their physicality will be a challenge.
“Grand is the most physical team that we’ve seen all year. That’s the reason why they’re in the state championship. They run the single wing and they’ve got the capability of holding the ball for ten minutes. Obviously, we don’t score any points if they’ve got the ball. Our key is our defense and then learning from the things we had trouble with last week. I anticipate them doing some things defensively that Millard did to us that caused some issues for us last week.”
Quarterback Kael Atkinson and Jared Dansie are the two offensive stars for the wildcats but Coach Grajek emphasizes their success starts with their offensive line.
“Nothing happens without our offensive line. They’ve done a great job all year its five seniors. Not one of those guys started for us last year. They’re all incoming new starters this year, all five of those guys. They’ve done a great job for us. The other weapons we’ve got four other guys that do a great job for us. McCall Rose, Braden Lundgreen, Cam Sargent, and Jayce Crystal those are our other four receivers. Any given night any one of those guys could go for 100 yards receiving. It just depends on what the defense is taking away.”
While most smaller schools have their stars play both sides of the field, South Summit is unique in lower division football as they don’t have many two-way players.
“We could very easily at the beginning of the season picked 14-15 guys and said these guys are going to be our two-way guys and we’re going to play these guys. I really believe that in the long-run if we coach and do what we’re supposed to do we can get guys ready to do that. We actually started the last three games, started 22 guys. We have 18 seniors on the team and we start 17 and the only reason that our 18th guy (doesn’t play) is he’s been injured. They’ve worked their butt off they’ve done a great job”
Being in six straight state title games might cause complacency in some programs but Coach Grajek says that this group is eager to claim their own title.
“We only returned three starters on offense last year maybe only two on defense, so we didn’t return a lot of guys. They helped prepare the seniors from last year to go to the state championship but these guys they want their stamp on the tradition that South Summit has. They want to be a part of it and they’re hungry to go show everybody that hey we’re as good as those other guys and we’ve worked hard enough, and we deserve it.”
The 10-1 Wildcats play the 8-3 Red Devils on Saturday at 11:00 am at the Weber State football stadium. If you’re unable to make the game be sure to listen to KPCW’s live broadcast of the title game.