Tom Smart, Deseret News
It is a rematch of last year's 2A state championship game, and the most anticipated 2A game of the regular season.
It will also probably serve as the 2A East championship game and a possible preview of the 2A title game in November when San Juan travels to South Summit tonight.
With so much on the line — a chance to take the lead in region, a better draw in the postseason and a psychological advantage going to the winner if No. 1 South Summit and No. 2 San Juan meet up again in the playoffs — the approaches of the two teams couldn't be more different.
"It's a big one," said South Summit coach Jerry Parker, whose team lost to San Juan 7-0 in the 2A championship game last season. "We've waited a long time for this. I think we've talked about this since last November."
The Broncos, on the other hand, have only talked about it since the start of the week. The 2009 season has nothing but good memories for San Juan, and the team is focused on repeating as state champions — one week at a time.
"Last year was last year," said San Juan coach Monty Lee. "There are new kids, new faces, new programs. If you live in the past, you end up in the past."
It's easy to see why South Summit would look to the past for inspiration tonight. The Wildcats have won 14 of their last 16 games, with both of the defeats coming at the hands of the Broncos. No team has been a thorn in the side to South Summit quite like San Juan, which also beat the Wildcats in state championship games in 1998 and 2000.
What happened in the past won't make any difference in tonight's game, as the present offers a superb matchup between two solid football teams. San Juan, which has won 12 straight games, has been out of this world on defense so far this season. The Broncos have allowed just 14 points in four games, with one of the scores coming on a kickoff return.
The Broncos are led by returning all-state player Stetler Shumway, who has recorded a team-high 44 tackles. He's also second on the team in receiving (227 yards) and rushing (137 yards).
"They're very good," Parker said. "They're very confident in what they do. They're the type of program that just reloads. They're undefeated for a reason. They're a good team — no two ways about it."
South Summit has also produced some impressive results, winning four games by an average of 30 points. Levi Thompson leads the Wildcats in rushing (535 yards), receiving (131 yards) and tackling (27 stops). South Summit has scored more than 40 points in two games.
"They're always a team you're going to have in the back of your mind," Lee said. "We know they're a class program. We know they have a great group of kids. We hope if they're playing the last week of the season that we're the ones playing against them."
South Summit has the advantage of playing at home tonight. For the second straight week, the Broncos will have to take a six-hour bus ride to their game. They defeated Grantsville, 18-7, last week after making the long trip.
BOUNTIFUL DOMINANCE: Few of the state's rivalries have been as one-sided as Bountiful-Woods Cross, as the Braves have won the last 19 games in the series. Bountiful will go for an even 20 tonight.
The Braves once again feature one of the state's top defenses, as they've allowed 10 or fewer points in each of their games. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have struggled mightily on defense in their last two games.
Woods Cross, coming into tonight's game on a two-game losing streak, gave up 42 points to Mountain Crest and 35 to Olympus in the last two weeks.
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