COALVILLE When Jerre Holmes arrived at North Summit seven years ago, the school inched closer and closer to that elusive football championship, a dream that was finally fulfilled last year.
Now things get interesting.
"I think it's tougher to repeat," said Holmes, who won three straight state titles as Rich High's head coach from 1994-1996. "Even though it's the same goal, the first time you're shooting for something you haven't had, the second time around you're protecting something you have."
Protecting its 2A championship will be tough in what figures to be an extremely competitive classification this year, but the Braves are capable despite graduating countless key contributors.
"We obviously don't win a state championship and don't lose good guys. We lost some big guys and some real fast guys, and that's going to be difficult to replace," said Holmes. "But these guys are tough guys, they're competitive, they've been that way since they were freshman."
They're good too. Deven Holmes, Colby Richins and Caden Richins were all first team all-starters as juniors in 2007, while linebacker Stevein Sommerville was an honorable mention.
Coach Holmes is cautious when raving about his own son, starting quarterback Deven Holmes, but he acknowledges that having his experience back is a huge plus.
"I'm hoping Deven will be a better quarterback this year," said coach Holmes.
For personnel reasons, North Summit will be a different team this year than the one that posted a 12-0 record and throttled Millard 30-6 in last year's 2A championship game.
The Braves aren't nearly as fast this year, and Holmes said they'll be a much more power offensive team this year as a result. That's going to put extra pressure on returning starting offensive lineman Greg Woolstenhulme and Wyatt Richins.
The team's overall depth isn't what it was last year, either. In the quarterfinals last year, star running back Dallin Donaldson missed the game because of appendicitis, but the team didn't miss a beat with two very capable back-ups. A year later, Holmes still isn't quite sure who the No. 2 running back on his depth chart will be.
"The thing this year is we can't afford injuries," said Holmes.North Summit was tabbed as the preseason No. 1 team heading into the 2008 season by 2A coaches. And the Braves might occupy the top spot for a while. Their first two games are at home, and they don't face a team ranked in the preseason top five until a visit to Manti in Week 6.
North Summit Braves
COACH: Jerre Holmes owns a 130-78 record in 19 years as a head coach. He's spent the past seven at North Summit, which included last year's state championship.
KEY PLAYERS: The Braves return three first team all-staters, highlighted by quarterback Deven Holmes. As a junior, he led his team to an undefeated season, and a year later bigger things are expected. Twins Colby and Caden Richins were also first team all-staters, and defensively they'll each play a defensive end position. Colby will also play tight end while Caden is the top returning running back. Steven Sommerville (FB/LB), Greg Woolstenhulme (DT/C), Bryer Trussell (WR/DB), Wes Richins (RG) and Wyatt Richins (RT/DT) are also expected to contribute.
QUESTION MARK: Last year, North Summit was impossible to beat for many reasons, but a big one was team speed and depth. The team lacks both of those this year. There's also concern in the secondary with only one returning starter.
LAST YEAR: 12-0, 2A state champions.
PREDICTED 2A NORTH FINISH: Tied for first with Manti and Juab.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: Even though the Braves lost a lot of key cogs off their 2007 championship team, this is not a rebuilding year. If they can stay healthy, and the young players who are expected to contribute do just that, a region title is definitely in the cards and perhaps a second straight state title.
Aug. 22 OGDEN, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 SOUTH SEVIER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Duchesne, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Beaver, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Gunnison, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at at Manti, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at SOUTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 ALA, 7 p.m.Oct. 17 JUAB, 7 p.m.