South Summit is a bit undersized compared to past seasons, but Parker said from a defensive standpoint this year’s team makes up for it with athleticism and an ability to fly around.
“Honestly, we have speed, but we don’t have a ton of size. We’re going to have to be tougher than everybody else,” said Porter Santos, a returning starter at running back and defensive back.
Santos is expected to be even better this season, but there’s a big question mark at quarterback. Junior Caden Christensen and sophomore Ty Jones are both in the hunt to replace last year’s starter Matt Rydalch, but coach Parker said until the players strap on their pads it’s tough to tell who’s ultimately ready for varsity football.
South Summit Wildcats at a glance
Coach: Jerry Parker is entering his 11th overall season as head coach at South Summit, even though it’s been over two stints. A graduate of South Summit, Parker’s career coaching record is 64-45.
(3 returning starters; Option offense)
The strength of this year’s offense is at running back. Porter Santos rushed for 484 yards on 62 carries last season while Hayden Packard is back after rushing for 450 yards on 64 carries. It will be tough for defenses to key on either, and if South Summit gets a complimentary quarterback to step up and Jay Reidhead rises to the challenge at fullback, it has the makings of an explosive offense. Garrett Crystal is the lone returning starter on the offensive line, but coach Parker said he has confidence in the quick lineman coming up even though they’re a bit undersized.
(5 returning starters)
South Summit held eventual state champion Manti to just six points in last year’s 2A semifinals, but incredibly the Wildcats didn’t advance by losing 6-0. With five of South Summit's starters returning, including three linebackers, defense should be the strength this season. Crystal, Reidhead and Santos are all returning starters at linebacker, while Nick Vadrine is back after leading the team in interceptions a year ago. Packard led the team interceptions two years ago, and he’s also back. Brad Richins and Cole Richins should provide strength at defensive end, but there’s concern at defensive tackle. Finding quality players to fill those spots is vital, because in 2A if you can’t stop the run you can’t win.
Coaches preseason 2A North straw poll: Second
Deseret News 2A North prediction: Third
Bottom line: South Summit’s senior class last year didn’t win a game when they were freshmen. They persevered after that winless season and ultimately advanced to the semifinals by the time they were seniors. This year’s senior class has won at every level. Sure, South Summit lacks the size that every coach would love to have, but that’s often less a concern in 2A. The Wildcats are hungry, motivated and athletic this season, and the potential is there to finally get over the hump after two runner-up finishes and a semifinal appearance in the past three years.
Aug. 17 — ALTAMONT, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24 — at Morgan, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 — AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — MILLARD, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — at North Sevier, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — MANTI, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — at North Summit, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 — at Emery, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — GUNNISON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 — Playoffs
Felt’s Facts for South Summit High School
All-time record: 321-323-8 (74 years)
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