KAMAS Apparently it takes only about 17 days for the rust to build on a football team.
That is how long it had been since third-ranked South Summit played its last region game and it showed. The Wildcats struggled for the first two quarters against Richfield before finally finding their groove in the second half to pull away for a 34-9 quarterfinal win in the 2A playoffs.
"Boy, did we ever come out flat," coach Jerry Parker said. "That long of a layoff is just too much. I don't know if our kids didn't get ready emotionally, or if it just took them that long to get back into the feel of it. The good news is that they did get it back and played a great second half for us."
South Summit trailed 9-7 at the break thanks to Richfield's two scores a 3-yard run from J.D. Michaelsen and a 25-yard field goal from Jesse Hartle and it could have been worse if not for one play a 58-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Conor Peterson to Curtis Jenkins. The Wildcats from Richfield did a good job in slowing the other Wildcats' offense.
"They had some great defensive linemen that really caused us some problems," Parker said.
The second half was a different game. South Summit came out with a vengeance. The defense looked like the unit that had posted shutouts in its last three games. It forced a quick three-and-out to start the third quarter, and the offense responded by going 52 yards on eight plays for a touchdown. Braydon Stembridge capped the drive with an 11-yard scoring run.
After trading punts, Stembridge made the game-changing play when he stepped in front of a Travis Tuttle pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown, giving South Summit a 21-9 lead. From there the defense continued to flex its muscle. The next two offensive plays for Richfield resulted in turnovers as Brandon Smith pounced on a fumble, and Peterson picked off a pass. In all, the defense forced six turnovers in the second half as Jenkins picked off two passes and Trevor Lewis had an interception of his own.
"We take a lot of pride in our defense," Stembridge said. "It is what we have kind of been known for this year. At the half, we told each other that we needed to go out and make some plays, to go and get the ball."The offense scored twice more for the final score as Marc Yost had a two-yard touchdown run, and Peterson had a 76-yard scamper.