Note: Summit Academy finished with a 2-9 overall record in 2013 and was sixth in 2A North with a 1-5 record. It lost to San Juan 40-20 in the first round of the 2A playoffs.
It took three years, but the football coaching staff at Summit Academy finally feels as if the team has stabilized.
It has battled being the new school and it has battled being a 2A squad surrounded by talented 4A and 5A teams. Now, moving into the 2014 season, head coach Scott Gorringe said it feels like the Bears have a good mix of experience, credibility and, very importantly, senior leadership.
"This is our first year with a full team of seniors. We're pretty excited about that," said Gorringe, whose team is in just its third year of existence. "In the first two years, we only had two to four seniors who would contribute; we were pretty young. This year we have between 14 and 16 seniors, all of whom will contribute."
Many of those kids have been with the program since they entered high school, learning, playing varsity minutes, and gaining crucial experience against quality 2A teams.
"These kids came in as sophomores and really had to carry the load because there was not an established student body," Gorringe said. "This is that core group of sophomores who started the program and then stayed with it."
One of those key players is Hagan Hines, a 6-foot, 225-pound "quarterback in a fullback's body," said Gorringe.
A year ago, Hines was thrown into the quarterback role for the first time out of necessity. He totaled 1,387 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns along with 457 rushing yards and seven rushing scores on 130 carries in his inaugural season, and Gorringe is looking forward to seeing what else he can do with a year now under his belt.
"Having started last year, I think he'll be more at ease. I think he'll just be more confident," the coach said. "There's a pretty steep learning curve in that position. He's just going to have a better understanding of what the position requires."
In addition to stability, experience and leadership, Gorringe is excited about one more thing: depth. After watching the Bears play their blue-and-white scrimmage, he was pleased with what he saw from his kids who are not currently marked as starters.
"Our second-team quarterback, Sagen Fredrickson, really had a nice scrimmage," he said, noting that while Hines is the starter, it is nice to see the layers coming together. "It gives us some options. We may have some flexibility there."
And depth is certainly an important aspect in keeping up with, and ultimately becoming one of, the top teams in a talented classification.
"We certainly found out fast there are good players in 2A," Gorringe said. "Last year, we moved up to 2A and there was a big jump in the level of football. These are tough-nosed kids, good players, and good coaching."
Moving into Class 2A is another change that has stretched the Bears.
"It is a challenge for us," Gorringe said. "We have to be better. Better coaching, better players, better play. 2A will push us."
Summit Academy Bears at a glance
Coach: Scott Gorringe is entering his third season at Summit Academy, where he has accumulated a career record of 7-14. Gorringe is a graduate of Brighton High and the University of Utah.
(9 returning starters; Balanced offense)