KAMAS A distinct quality unites the cast of new faces peppering the South Summit roster this season. From the linemen down to the receivers, this group of Wildcats are small. Few players come anywhere close to 6 feet or 200 pounds.
But South Summit isn't concerned in the least. The seniors, for example, say that they have dealt with being undersized compared to their age group for a long time.
"We've ever since little league been the smallest team," senior Kendall Prescott said. "We've never outsized a team once."
The Wildcats are eager to prove this fall that good things do come in small packages. For that to happen, they must fill several holes on offense and defense.
Things look promising on offense. Prescott, a starter at fly receiver and cornerback a year ago, will take over at quarterback. He has a stronger arm than his predecessor, Connor Peterson, which should help South Summit mix in more of a passing attack.
Prescott has also impressed head coach Jerry Parker with his grasp of the offense and his ability to take charge in the huddle.
"He's a really good leader and he's matured big time," Parker said. "I like his game presence."
The bulk of rushing duties in the Wildcats' offense will fall to returning tailback Jace Johnson. Johnson, also a senior, brings a much different look than Brayden Stembridge did a year ago. Where Stembridge was more of a bruising runner, Johnson will rely on making reads and cuts to get the job done.
Prescott said that Johnson is shifty enough and possesses enough speed to rack up yards in a hurry.
"He's always been someone when you get the ball to him, he can make a play out of it," Prescott said. "That's what I like about him."
There are major questions up front on offense and defense for the Wildcats. Few of the potential starting linemen have been with the team this summer while they work on family farms. That position group will likely not be settled until two-a-days.
The defense is seeing an overhaul in other areas too. Only one starting linebacker, Cooper Feild, is back. Prescott is a returning starter in the secondary, but will see little time there with his move to quarterback.
Parker admits there is some inexperience on defense, but remains confident that the Wildcats can maintain solid play on that side of the ball.
"We're rebuilding in (some) areas, but I think we've got good young kids coming (up)," Parker said. "We're just going to be young."
With how tough 2A North looks, the odds are probably against South Summit in rising up and snagging a region title. But the Wildcats feel confident about staying competitive. The program produced a 22-4 record collectively on the freshman, varsity and junior varsity levels in 2007.
For them, size doesn't matter whether or not opposing teams will agree."It's better to be the underdog because, basically, no one is expecting anything of you," senior receiver Ryan Card said. "All you can do is impress them."
South Summit Wildcats prep football preview
COACH: Jerry Parker has done well in his second stint as head coach, coaxing steady improvement out of the Wildcats in the last three seasons. In his six seasons there (1992-94, 2005-07), Parker's teams have made five playoff appearances.
KEY PLAYERS: Both Kendall Prescott (QB) and Jace Johnson (RB) have some big shoes to fill on offense. Prescott should have a good target at receiver in Ryan Card (WR/DB). Cooper Feild (LB) will anchor the linebacking corps. The line is unsettled, with Lane Thompson (OL) one of the few projected starters at this point.
QUESTION MARKS: With so many holes to fill on both sides of the ball, how much will a lack of size and experience matter for the Wildcats?
LAST YEAR: 9-2, lost in the semifinals
PREDICTED 2A SOUTH FINISH: Fourth.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: As long as Parker is on the sidelines, the Wildcats will be competitive. But there are too many uncertainties at this point on the line and defense to see them being more than a middle-of-the-pack 2A team headed for a first round playoff exit.
Aug. 22 ALTAMONT, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 at Duchesne, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 GRAND, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Delta, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Juab, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 GUNNISON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at North Summit, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 MANTI, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 at American Leadership, 7 p.m.
E-mail: [email protected]