Note: This is Summit Academy’s first year as a sanctioned high school of the UHSAA.
DRAPER — As a newly appointed member of the 1A classification, Summit Academy's football program is similar to the 1980 U.S. men's hockey team — before its "miraculous" upset of the Soviet Union at the Winter Olympic games.
Of course, there are a few staunch differences. It’s football compared to hockey. It’s high school rather than the Olympics. But, for first-year coach Scott Gorringe, having to mesh players from different backgrounds into one unified team is the same challenge U.S. coach Herb Brooks faced.
Who do you play for? Alta.
Who do you play for? Bingham.
No longer do those answers exist for Summit Academy's players and rivalries that had been ingrained throughout their individual playing careers are history.
“That was a big deal and truthfully I am so thrilled with how have they have meshed,” Gorringe explained when asked how players from rival schools have coexisted. “We started in February lifting and it was kind of weird getting everybody together. As practice goes on and we ended two-a-days I do see them meshing. They’re becoming very good friends.
“They see that everybody is the same whether you (went) to Alta or to Bingham,” Gorringe continued. “I told them, 'Get rid of the Bingham, the Riverton, the Herriman and the Alta stuff. We’re now Summit Academy. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want you wearing Alta shorts. Get rid of it. We’re Summit.”
For many beginning schools developing talent is typically a long, grueling task. However, for Summit Academy — a charter school that focuses on prepping students for college with AP credits in rigorous academic schedules — it’s nestled nicely in Draper with the ability to lure athletes from competitive programs in higher classifications.
“The advantage for us is these kids are coming from Alta, Herriman, Bingham, Riverton — I mean pretty good football schools,” Gorringe said. “So, they’re not coming in here and they’re not just a bunch of dopes. It’s an opportunity for a sophomore to play varsity. Whereas if you’re at Alta or Herriman or Bingham, chances are as a sophomore you’re not going to be playing varsity. So, this is a great opportunity for these kids and I think they’re excited.”
The Bears are overwhelmed with youth, which generally is a common occurrence for first-year programs. With only two seniors on the roster, Summit Academy is expected to start up to eight sophomores on both sides of the ball.
“We’re either going to be really good or really bad. If we’re decent this year watch out next year,” Gorringe said in reference to the underclassmen participation.
The Bears, currently without a home field, open the season with six consecutive road games and play their only two scheduled home games at Judge Memorial.
“I don’t worry about (opening up with six road games). It is weird going away, (but) I don’t really look at it as a big disadvantage,” Gorringe said. “So, I’m not going to worry about that and let the kids be concerned with traveling.”
Despite all the apparent obstacles that naturally occur for beginning programs looking for stability while accumulating to the high school game, Gorringe and Co. believe the time is now for postseason play.
“My expectation is to make it to the playoffs, period. I don’t think that we’re going to be happy with just being competitive,” Gorringe said. “I think that we can win and get to the playoffs. That’s all of our coaching staff’s expectations.