Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
KAMAS — San Juan captured its second overall state football championship in 1998 after a nine-year interval, 36-26, against South Summit. The Broncos encored four more titles in a 12-year stretch with three more coming at the expense of the Wildcats.
Write it down: San Juan owns South Summit and there's no denying it. The Broncos have an all-time 7-0 record in the series, and rings to show for it. That can all change on Friday when the programs meet at 2 p.m. in the 2A quarterfinals at South Summit High.
“We have a ton of respect for them,” said Wildcats coach Jerry Parker, whose team lost 15-9 to San Juan in the 2012 semifinals. “Through the years we’ve been the ones to play them down the stretch, and we’ve come close — we just haven’t been able to get over the hump. This year may be the year. We get to play at home in the playoffs. We’re hoping we can get it done.
“We have four second-place trophies because of San Juan. That’s enough.”
The Wildcats (8-1) far and away have been the best team in 2A this season. Behind an offensive line that’s paved the way for 42 rushing touchdowns and a defensive unit that collectively tallied 23 sacks and 13 interceptions, South Summit leads the classification in scoring offense (39.8ppg) and defense (7.6ppg).
“San Juan will use extra bodies,” Parker said. “They’ll stunt pretty heavy and put eight in the box uptight. They’re going to try and handle us that way. If they go man-for-man, I think we’re pretty good.”
“They’re creative, though. They’ll bring their linebackers and we’ll see something different from them,” Parker said concerning what he expects to see from San Juan. “We’re just going to get off the ball and get after it.”
The Broncos (6-4), similar to the Boise State Broncos, notoriously gamble with trickery in possession. The well-timed execution has provided several daggers in the rivalry, and Parker explained that preparation for gadget plays has been a huge focal point this week while adding that the defense won’t play on its tiptoes.
“We’re going to play,” Parker said. “We’re not going to play conservative anywhere on the field. We need to get after it, so if that means going after the quarterback — we’re going to. If that means we need to throw it — we’re going to throw it. We’re not being conservative by any means.”
South Summit is approaching Friday’s game as the first step in the ultimate goal. The school hasn’t won a title since 1988 and considering the caliber of the group, the team and the town understand the possibilities.
“We talk about it all the time,” Parker said. “They know what’s at stake and the community tells them. The community has lots of history with San Juan and so (the players) are getting it from all angles.
“They’re well aware of it. They mention it everyday at the close of practice. As far as looking ahead to that and bypassing who we’re playing — we don’t do that. We don’t look any further and our kids are really good at that.
“I think kids in society are really good at that — they can’t look past a week.”
San Juan statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 18.6 ppg (7th in 2A)
Scoring defense: 15.8 ppg (5th in 2A)
Passing leader: Peyton Palmer (23-53, 43.4 percent, 462 yards, 6 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Jens Grover (115 carries, 589 yards, 7 TDs)
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