I told the kids tonight that the 2017 team has never played Beaver. So this is our first chance to see where we’re at. And the kids did a great job. —South Summit head coach Mike Grajek
KAMAS — The way the Beavers were moving down the field on their final drive of the second quarter, it looked like the defending 2A champions would tie the score heading into halftime.
But the program Beaver defeated two years in a row in the playoffs stopped them at the 3-yard line, allowing South Summit to take a 14-7 lead into the half and giving it a morale boost for a physical second half.
“You can’t say enough about our defense,” said South Summit head coach Mike Grajek after the Wildcats defeated the Beavers 30-6. “Again, we only started two or three guys on the defensive side that are on the offensive side, so they’re fresh guys. And that was huge. Our defense did a phenomenal job, and that’s what we talked about at halftime was, ‘Hey, our defense has kept us in this, now let’s get them off the field a little bit.’”
While many anticipated Friday night’s matchup of these two powerhouses, Grajek told his players they had nothing to defend or avenge.
“I told the kids tonight that the 2017 team has never played Beaver,” he said. “So this is our first chance to see where we’re at. And the kids did a great job.”
Neither team scored in the first quarter, although South Summit had a rushing touchdown erased by a block in the back penalty.
South Summit scored the game’s first points at 10:18 in the second quarter when quarterback Kael Atkinson turned a busted play into a 37-yard run, falling across the end zone with two defenders hanging on him. The Wildcats scored again about five minutes later when Parker Grajek caught a 43-yard pass from Atkinson.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, with three fumbles between both teams in the first six minutes. It resulted in a change of possession every time.
South Summit scored at 10:12 in the fourth quarter after one of the game’s longest sustained drives — more than five minutes and 88 yards (not including overcoming two holding penalties). The Wildcats’ kicker Cole Georgi kicked a 25-yard field goal to give them a 17-7 lead.
The Wildcat defense forced Beaver to punt, which only moved the ball back to the Beavers' 35-yard line. South Summit took over and Atkinson needed just two passes — both to Keegan Stracher — to score again, this time on a 15-yard pass play.
The final score of the game came when Jared Dansie, whose first touchdown was erased by a penalty, ran 16 yards to give South Summit the final score of 30-7 with 1:25 left in the game.
The Beavers had to play the second half without starting quarterback and safety Hollingshead. Beaver coach Jon Marshall said he injured his ribs at the end of the first half, so they held him out of the second half.
Despite how well Ryker Albrecht played in his place, Grajek said the game might have been tighter had he been able to finish.
He was impressed with his own team’s resilience as it lost two touchdowns to penalties, as well as several holding penalties.
“I just can’t say enough about all the kids,” he said. “They worked hard for a long time and you know, we’ve lost to them two times. So this was good. We expected these guys to be physical and big, and they definitely were.”
There were a number of oustanding defensive plays, but defensive lineman Alex Johnson had four sacks and two tackles for significant losses. Hunter Fillmore and Cole Reidhead each had interceptions for the Wildcats. Atkinson said the game was as physical and hard-fought as they expected.
“I knew they were a good team,” he said. “They’re always a great team. Their run game is really, really good. When they get that going, they can pass the ball. I knew it was going to be a defensive battle.”