Note: Summit Academy finished with a 9-2 overall record in 2016 and first in 2A North with a 5-0 record. It lost to Beaver 35-14 in 2A semifinals.
BLUFFDALE — For everything Les Hamilton feels comfortable about this season, there’s another that is a question.
On the one hand everything this summer has gone smoother now that he’s in his second year as head coach at Summit Academy, but the school is bumping up a classification so he’s not quite sure how the Bears will ultimately measure up.
He’s ecstatic about the experience he has coming back on the offensive line with four returning starters, but also weary how the offense will look with a quarterback other than his son, Isaac Hamilton.
“There’s always some apprehension too when you have a new guy under center,” said Les Hamilton.
Make no mistake, he has all the confidence in Herriman transfer Hayden Reynolds taking over the reigns at QB, it’s just that his son had been running Hamilton’s spread offense since little league and probably knew it as well as his dad.
In Reynolds, he has mobile quarterback instead of a pocket quarterback, and that will allow Hamilton to utilize the offense in difference was as Summit Academy competes in 3A this season.
Isaac Hamilton passed for 3,156 yards and 36 touchdowns in leading Summit Academy to the 2A semifinals, but this season Les Hamilton wants more of a 50-50 split in the play calling to take advantage of the numerous weapons he has returning including running back Mitch Hansen and wide receivers Parker Clawson and Gavin Davey.
The offensive line is the catalyst to everything. The four returning starters have been with the program since their freshman year and they’d love to leave the program after leading it to new heights.
Just like the offense has seven returning starters, so does the defense. Summit Academy is particularly strong on the defensive line with returning starters Ammon Richards, Carson Wheaton and Talmage Brown.
A year ago Summit Academy gave up 24.8 ppg, and Hamilton believes his defense needs to shave a touchdown per game off that total to compete in the tougher classification.
Summit Academy Bears at a glance
Head Coach: Les Hamilton is entering his second year as head coach at Summit Academy at a 9-2 debut season. He has 14 years of previous head coaching experience at Grantsville, Alta, Hunter and Pleasant Grove with a 113-57 career record. He won 5A state titles with Alta in 2007 and 2008. He’s a graduate of Petaluma High School in California.
Summit Academy Offensive Snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Les Hamilton
2016 offensive production: 33.9 ppg (3rd in 2A)
-- 7 returning starters
-- Spread offense
Key offensive returning starters
-- Parker Clawson (WR)
Was second on the team a year ago with 46 receptions for 642 yards and four touchdowns and could have a breakout season this year.
-- Jesse Hooper (OL)
Anchored Summit Academy’s offensive line a year ago, and he’ll again be the leader of an experienced group that includes four returning starters.
Returning offensive starters
Jesse Hooper (OL)
Dalton Jones (OL)
Cody Zufelt (OL)
Jacob Munger (OL)
Mitch Hansen (RB)
Gavin Davey (WR)
Parker Clawson (WR)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Hayden Reynolds (QB)
Talmage Brown (RB)
Colin Dodge (WR)
Karson Kitchen (WR)
Ammon Richards (TE)
Parker Blake (OL)
Hamilton comments on the need for offensive balance:
“Last year we threw the ball 65 percent of the time. I’d like to be 50-50. That’s dependent upon those five O-lineman. I am confident our O-line is going to be solid, but can we run the ball against bigger classification, that’s going to be the big question mark. If we can, I think we’re going to have some success offensively. Plus I’ve got a mobile quarterback this year.”
Hamilton comments on offensive line experience:
“I have four of my five starters back. That’s huge, and then we had an offseason transfer from Herriman who’s going to fill in at center and who’s going to do real nice. So I’m very excited about those five guys up front.”
Hamilton comments on QB Hayden Reynolds:
“Hayden has really come a long ways. I’m excited about him. He gives us that mobility factor. Offensively we’re going to look like Jordan a lot, a lot of QB run. We couldn’t do with Isaac (Hamilton). This kid runs more like an Ammon Olsen ran and has a great arm, and he’s getting the system down. I’m excited about him. He has a chance to be a special player.”
Keys for Offensive Success in 2017:
Summit Academy was a pass happy team a year ago, but with a mobile QB taking over the reigns this year that dynamic will shift. There will be more hand offs and more designed QB runs this season, and that success hinges on an offensive line that proved it could pass block last season to prove it can run block just as effectively.
Summit Academy Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Ron Halbert
2016 defensive production: 24.8 ppg (5th in 2A)
-- 7 returning starters
-- Multiple defenses
Key defensive returning starters
-- Aaron Bailey (LB)
The linebacker led Summit Academy with 93 total tackles last season to go along with two sacks and two interceptions.
-- Carson Wheaton (DL)
Athletic defensive lineman recorded 93 tackles and three sacks as a sophomore and is poised for a dominant junior season.
Returning defensive starters
Ammon Richards (DL)
Carson Wheaton (DL)
Talmage Brown (DL)
Aaron Bailey (LB)
Jay Knox (LB)
Hunter Housel (DB)
Parker Clawson (DB)
Defensive newcomers to watch
Cameron Fisher (DL)
Devonne Huggins (DL)
Mitch Hansen (LB)
Hamilton comments on defensive lineman Cameron Wheaton:
“He’s 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, runs a low 4.6. He can fly. He’s only a junior this year. He reminds of the (Cameron) Latu kid up at Olympus. That’s how fast and explosive this kid is. He’s great in the weight room. We were at North Sanpete (this summer) and they ran toss sweep to his side, he took on the block, shed the block and then ran the guy down for no gain. Their coaches went, ‘wow, the kid can fly.’”
Hamilton comments on speed on defense:
“Flying to the ball, and being sure tacklers. We have good speed on defense. Speed is going to be our strength on the defense. If we can just use our speed and we can tackle well, you give up fewer big plays. And our guys know, if you look at the stats over the last few years, it doesn’t matter what classification, if you’re going to be a state championship caliber team you’ve got to be under 14 points a game average on defense. Last year we were hovering at about 20 and we lost in the semis to Beaver.”
Keys for Defensive Success in 2017:
Being sound and disciplined will be key defensively. Summit Academy is competing in a region that includes Juan Diego, Juab and Manti, three programs that have had the same head coach for over a decade. The players have been running the same offense for numerous years, and know exactly what is expected of them. A sound, disciplined defense approach every Friday night will be critical to keep games close.
Coaches preseason 3A South straw poll: Third
Deseret News 3A South prediction: Third
Key Region Game: at Juan Diego, Oct. 13 (Week 9)
Bottom line: Loaded with returning experience on both sides of the ball, Summit Academy should fit in very nicely in 3A and compete on most Friday nights. Taking the next step and actually winning some of those region battles against the upper-echelon teams in 3A won’t be easy though. Summit Academy is one of the smaller schools in 3A and its depth will get tested as the season wears on against some of the bigger, more experienced school’s in the classification.
Aug. 18 — UNION, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — at Emery, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 — at Judge Memorial, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — at Wendell, Idaho, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — MANTI, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 — NORTH SANPETE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 — at Juab, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 — RICHFIELD, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — at Juan Diego, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 — 2A PLAYOFFS, TBD
Felt’s Facts for Summit Academy High School
All-time record: 32-23 (5 years)
Region championships: 1 (2016)
Playoff appearances: 5
Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2014-2016)
All-time playoff record: 4-5
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-1
2016 — 9-2 (5-0 in 2A North – 2A Semifinals)
2015 — 6-5 (3-2 in 2A North – 2A Quarterfinals)
2014 — 10-2 (5-1 in 2A North – 2A Runner-up)
2013 — 2-9 (1-5 in 2A North – Missed playoffs)
2012 — 5-5 (2-2 in 1A North – 1A Quarterfinals)
Summit Academy coaching history
2016-current — Les Hamilton (9-2)
2012-2015 — Scott Gorringe (23-21)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2016 — Isaac Hamilton, QB
2016 — Jeb Denos, RB/DB
2016 — Baylor Harding, WR
2016 — James Walker, OL/DL
2015 — Justin Miller, QB
2015 — Darrin Gethers, WR
2014 — Hagan Hines, QB/LB
2014 — Steven Harp, RB/WR
2014 — Jake Kartchner, DE
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.