(Beaver is) about 50-50 on run and pass productivity. That is somewhat unusual because most teams focus on one or the other. They are well-balanced, and the defense just comes at you. —Wildcats coach Jerry Parker
CEDAR CITY — Beating the same team twice in the same season can be a challenge — particularly when it is the only loss that team has suffered and the upcoming game is the most important one of the year.
South Summit will work to repeat history when it meets Beaver, a team it has already defeated 37-6 this season, in the 2A semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Southern Utah University in the 1:30 p.m. timeslot.
“Playing a team we’ve played already, that’s hard,” said Wildcats coach Jerry Parker. “We know they are a good team and we know they are going to come at us hard.”
The Beavers, who have won every other outing this year, boast the second-best scoring offense (34.8 points per game) and defense (10.9 points allowed per game) in the 2A classification. They are second only to Parker’s Wildcats, who are averaging 40.2 points scored and 6.9 points allowed — a number that ranks best in the state.
“Our challenge is to keep from thinking we blew by them last time,” Parker said, adding that his team is busy preparing for the Beavers’ well-balanced offense.
“They are about 50-50 on run and pass productivity,” he said. “That is somewhat unusual because most teams focus on one or the other. They are well-balanced, and the defense just comes at you.”
Beaver, which fell in the quarterfinals a year ago, is led statistically by Jesse McMullin in the rushing attack and Kasen Hutchins in the passing game. However, the Southern Utah team has six different players who have scored rushing touchdowns and five who have thrown passing touchdowns.
Hutchins scored twice — both rushing TDs — in the Beavers’ quarterfinal victory over Parowan, and both Hutchings and McMullin scored in the narrow, 12-7 midseason victory over fellow semifinal qualifier Grand County. Aside from the loss to the Wildcats, the win over the Red Devils was the closest game Beaver has had all year.
Meanwhile, South Summit is depending on the continued strong play of senior defensive ends Ty Clegg, Victor Thornton and Brad Richins. The three have so far combined for more than 100 tackles and 13 sacks.
“They are some of the best in 2A,” Parker said, adding, “We’ve really settled down and played as a team. This has been a real group effort. We have 17 or 18 kids playing defense and six or seven who rotate in at defensive tackle — and we don’t miss a beat.”
The Wildcats are led on both sides of the ball by the play of Colby Averett, Carson Freestone and Caden Christenson, all players who have contributed both major yards on offense and key tackles on defense.
“We’ve been fortunate to be playing in November again,” Parker said. “We are exciting to be back in the playoffs and we are looking to return to the title game.”
Beaver statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 34.8 ppg (2nd in 2A)
Scoring defense: 10.9 ppg (2nd in 2A)
Passing leader: Kasen Hutchins (50-91, 54.9%, 865 yards, 15 TDs)
South Summit statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 40.2 ppg (1st in 2A)
Scoring defense: 6.9 ppg (1st in 2A)
Passing leader: Ty Jones (34-84, 40.5%, 570 yards, 6 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Jordan McNair (13 catches, 214 yards, 1 TD)
Sack leaders: Brad Richins (10 sacks)
Felt’s Facts for Beaver High School
All-time record: 420-244-11 (74 years)
Region championships: 15 (1962, 1965 co, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1977 co, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1987, 1992 co, 1994 co, 2002 co, 2013)
Playoff appearances: 47
All-time playoff record: 58-37 (including 2013)
State championships: 9 (1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1990)
State championship record: 9-9
Felt’s Factoid(s): Beaver is tied with two other teams for the most shutouts in one season with 10 (1973).
Felt’s Facts for South Summit High School
All-time record: 338-327-8 (76 years)
Region championships: 8 (1925, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 2000, 2009 co, 2013 co)
Playoff appearances: 37
All-time playoff record: 41-32 (including 2013)
State championships: 4 (1977, 1978, 1984, 1988)
State championship record: 4-7
Felt’s Factoid(s): Wildcat Blake Marchant set a state record for blocked kicks in a game — three — when he blocked two punts and a PAT to help the Wildcats win the 1977 Class 1A championship over Beaver.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org