KAMAS — No matter what way you looked at it, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for South Summit. The Wildcats had lost a host of standout seniors at the skill positions and along both lines. And the group stepping up to replace them has been noted for its lack of size more than anything else.

But South Summit is quietly turning into a contender once again — all because of a defense that has quickly become one of the best in 2A.

The Wildcats forced a pair of turnovers and held Grand to a mere 140 yards of total offense to coast to a 20-0 home victory on Friday night. It marked the second consecutive season that South Summit shut out the Red Devils.

"I know they have potential and they can be good," said running back Jace Johnson. "We just didn't let them get any momentum going."

The most remarkable part of that shutout was that Grand began its first three drives in Wildcat territory after it gave away the ball on a fumble and an interception on consecutive drives in the first quarter.

In neither instance did the Red Devils generate any substantial yardage. After recovering Johnson's fumble, Grand lost 3 yards in four plays before punting the ball away. Then, after Kendall Prescott tossed an interception near the end of the quarter, the Wildcats allowed only 13 yards and stopped the Red Devils on a fourth-down conversion attempt.

All the defensive stops brought new life to the offense.

South Summit turned its fourth-down stop into a 23-yard touchdown run by Johnson and a 7-0 lead on its next drive. Then the Wildcats forced Trevor Robertson to fumble deep in Red Devil territory and went up 14-0 when Prescott scored on a 1-yard keeper on the ensuing drive.

With things finally clicking, South Summit's backfield wore down Grand. The Wildcats accumulated 300 yards on the ground by game's end. Johnson led the way with a team-high 134 yards on 15 carries.

"Our running backs are really starting to come along," South Summit coach Jerry Parker said.

Johnson, in particular, redeemed himself from a slow start and helped the team every way possible. Besides playing offense and defense, the senior even filled in on special teams when starting kicker Trevor Rydalch went out with an injury.

"He is money," Parker said. "He does whatever we ask."

Robertson, Grand's top runner and passer, could do little against the swarming Wildcat defense. He was sacked four times and committed a pair of turnovers. The junior finished with only 90 yards passing and 7 yards rushing on 13 carries.


E-mail: jcoon@desnews.com