I just think we just have to execute, we have to take care of the football and we have to play well defensively. —Devin Smith, North Summit head football coach

COALVILLE — After capturing the 2A state title in 2008, the North Summit Braves sort of fell off the map. North Summit has failed to advance out of the first round of the playoffs for three of the last four years, and is hungry to return.

When asked what his team has to do to get past the first round this year, head coach Devin Smith joked, “I don’t know — you tell me.”

“I just think we just have to execute, we have to take care of the football and we have to play well defensively.”

Earlier in the season, North Summit quarterback Ryan McMichael and running back Josh Birk combined for 162 yards on the ground and five rushing TDs to power the Braves past the Bulldogs, 45-29.

“They have run well all year; they are a great combo,” said Gunnison head coach Yori Ludvigson. “We just have to get moving with our tackles and get a little better rotation there, and we just got to clog things up in the middle, slow them down and make them earn stuff.”

“Ryan’s ability to be a dual-threat quarterback is valuable to us, especially since we are an option team,” Smith added. “We use Josh to carry the ball and catch it, so their ability to gain yards on the ground obviously helps us in play action and makes us a little more versatile.”

Wide receivers Jacob Hatch and Dagan Thomas both torched the Braves’ defense in the first contest, as they combined for 19 receptions, 341 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs in the loss.

“Both (Hatch, Thomas) are very, very good players,” Smith said. “The quarterback, Tyler Moosman, is also a good player and we can’t say we are going to completely stop them; we just have to try to limit them.”

Hatch has totaled 77 receptions for 1,234 yards and eight TDs on the season, while Thomas has added 49 receptions for 781 yards and 11 scores to lead Gunnison.

“They are very important to our success. I think Hatch has more yards than anybody in the state; he’s just had a great year,” Ludvigson said. “He really gets off the ball and Dagan has really come on these past few games and played well, which I think will open up our run game.”

One specific statistic that especially hurt the Bulldogs in the loss and all season was their turnover margin. They coughed up a staggering nine turnovers against North Summit, including five interceptions from Moosman, and got outscored 26-0 in the second quarter.

“It really kills us. You can’t have four or five and expect to win, let alone nine,” Ludvigson said. “Turning over the ball is the biggest thing. If we can limit our turnovers, stop their run game, control the quarterback and stop that inside run, we should be fine.”

“I think they (Gunnison) do a lot of different things on special teams, and they run an offense that is uncommon in 2A with as many times as they throw it,” Smith said. “We have to work on the little things and be able to limit their offensive attack and take care of the football.”

Gunnison statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 26.5 ppg (5th in 2A)

Scoring defense: 31.4 ppg (13th in 2A)

Passing leader: Tyson Moosman (126-291, 43.3 percent, 2,152 yards, 22 TDs)

Rushing leaders: Jayden Rogers (133 carries, 771 yards, 8 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Jacob Hatch (77 catches, 1,234 yards, 8 TDs), Dagan Thomas (49 catches, 781 yards, 11 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Dagan Thomas (100 tackles), Morgan Harris (64 tackles)

Sack leaders: McKade Cox (10 sacks)

Interception leaders: Jacob Hatch (2 INTs)

North Summit statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 25.1 ppg (6th in 2A)

Scoring defense: 15.7 ppg (4th in 2A)

Passing leader: Ryan McMichael (42-74, 56.8 percent, 571 yards, 7 TDs)

Rushing leaders: Ryan McMichael (119 carries, 675 yards, 13 TDs), Josh Birk (94 carries, 650 yards, 5 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Nick Rees (13 catches, 131 yards, 2 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Not provided

Sack leaders: Not provided

Interception leaders: Josh Birk (3 INTs)

Felt’s Facts for Gunnison High School

All-time record: 68-160 (24 years)

Region championships: 0

Playoff appearances: 9

All-time playoff record: 4-8

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0

Felt’s Factoid(s): Gunnison had Utah’s only paid head female football coach. Vicki Brandt, an English, French and journalism teacher, spearheaded Gunnison’s efforts to start a football program in 1989. For a year she organized training camps and rallied community support for equipment and field construction. Two weeks before she was to coach the first game, the school board acknowledged her as the sole person responsible for the program, paid her and hired Ron Dalley to replace her.

Felt’s Facts for North Summit High School

All-time record: 415-360-23 (88 years)

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Region championships: 22 (1928, 1929, 1930 co, 1937, 1955, 1965, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 co, 1978, 1983 co, 1989, 1990, 1991 co, 2006, 2007, 2013 co)

Playoff appearances: 46

All-time playoff record: 47-38

State championships: 7 (1964, 1972, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2007, 2008)

State championship record: 7-4

Felt’s Factoid(s): North Summit is tied with two other teams for the most shutouts in one season with 10 (1974). ... Brave Andy Carlsen set the state record for season rushes with 323 in 2002.