Note: Summit Academy finished with a 9-2 overall record in 2017 and was tied for first in 3A South with a 4-1 record. It lost to Juan Diego 38-37 in the 3A semifinals.
BLUFFDALE — Summit Academy was one two-point conversion away from playing for last year’s 3A state championship. Instead, the players walked off the field heartbroken after a second-straight semifinal loss.
With most of those starters gone because of graduation, coach Les Hamilton has a simple message for this year’s team — build your own bridge.
“The bridge for the last two years has come up short,” said Hamilton.
Even though overall participation numbers are down after the departure of last year’s large senior class, Hamilton believes all the pieces are there for another outstanding season.
First, the team returns a couple of key pieces from last year’s team and, secondly, most of the newcomers were part of a JV team that went 8-1 last season.
“We’re probably longer and faster than we’ve ever been, and these are homegrown kids who’ve been here since they were freshmen,” said Hamilton.
The make-up of this year’s Summit Academy team has been an important step in the building process according to Hamilton, who is entering his third season as head coach.
“When I got here our main focus was start to develop the program from the younger levels up, like a traditional program. They had made their living off of transfers, and we’re just not getting transfers like we used to,” said Hamilton.
A couple players did transfer this offseason, and one of them is move-in quarterback Kasey Briggs from Westlake. He made a couple of starts at Westlake last season, then transferred to Summit Academy when his family moved to Bluffdale.
He’s a big quarterback who Hamilton expects can throw for around 3,000 yards in his offense.
If the new young offensive line gives him protection and proves it can open holes for returning starting running back Talmage Brown, there’s no reason Summit Academy can’t compete for another title in the 3A South region and the overall state title.
Summit Academy Bears at a glance
Head Coach: Les Hamilton is entering his third year as head coach at Summit Academy finishing 9-2 in each of his first two seasons. He has 15 years of previous head coaching experience at Grantsville, Alta, Hunter and Pleasant Grove with a 122-59 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
2017 offensive production: 37.2 (1st in 3A)
- 5 returning starters
- Spread offense
Key offensive returning starters
- Talmage Brown (RB): As a junior he rushed for 743 yards and 12 touchdowns on 111 carries.
- Jake Munger (OL): Is the lone returning starter on the offensive line from an offense that ranked first in 3A last year.
Returning offensive starters
- Talmage Brown (RB)
- Colin Dodge (WR)
- Parker Clawson (WR)
- JT Kupiec (TE)
- Jake Munger (OL)
Offensive newcomers to watch
- Kasey Briggs (QB)
- Isaac Rivas (OL)
Coach Hamilton comments on youthful offensive line:
“We have guys on the O-line, it’s just can they come together. Last year we had four returning starters on the O-line and we ran for over 1,600 yards last year. That’s been our Achilles heel. Against Beaver two years ago they went three-man front in the second half (of the semifinals) dropped eight into coverage and we couldn’t run the ball. Last year we were a little better running the ball.”
Coach Hamilton comments on new QB Kasey Briggs:
“He started a few games at Westlake last year, and then his family moved to Bluffdale. He’s 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and is pretty athletic and throws a great ball.”
Coach Hamilton comments on running back Talmage Brown:
“He’s one of the best athletes in the state. At the combine, he ran a 4.5 40, and he’s an all-state wrestler, 195 pounds, he’s a 38-inch vertical guy and he can really, really run. Pound for pound he’s one of our strongest kids in the weight room.”
Keys for Offensive Success in 2018:
Coach Hamilton has high hopes for his offensive line, but he also knows it’s a work in progress with just one starter back from last season. How quickly that new group settles into the offense, and figures out the responsibilities in both the run game and pass game is the biggest unknown heading into the season. If it happens fast, Summit Academy will be one of the front-runners again.
Summit Academy Defensive Snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Joe Hernandez
2017 defensive production: 20.9 (5th in 3A)
- 2 returning starters
- 3-4 defense
Key defensive returning starters
- Cameron Fisher (NG): Started at nose guard and recorded 20 tackles last year, a role he’ll fill again this season.
- Carson Wheaton (DE): As a junior last season, he recorded 54 tackles and six sacks.
Returning defensive starters
- Cameron Fisher (NG)
- Carson Wheaton (DE)
Defensive newcomers to watch
- Mason Shafer (CB)
- Adri Jefferson (CB)
- Cannon Esmay (LB)
- Cade Powers (LB)
- Mitchell Ostler (LB)
Coach Hamilton comments on new corners Mason Shafer and Adri Jefferson:
“Mason Shafer, he played a little bit last year and punted for us last year. He is long and athletic and is going to start at corner. The other one is Adri Jefferson, he also played a little bit for us last year and will start at corner. They are really fast and athletic kids, they could’ve started for me at Alta. They’re good players.”
Coach Hamilton comments on D-line returning starters Cam Fisher and Carson Wheaton:
“He’s explosive, he’s going to hold that inside at nose guard. He’s about 6-foot-2, 275. He dropped weight from last year when he was about 320. Carson Wheaton was an all-stater at defensive end and he’s gotten some interest from Utah State and Air Force. He’s 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds and can run like a gazelle. He’s athletic.”
Keys for Defensive Success in 2018:
Summit Academy’s defense is fast and long, but very inexperienced except for at a couple of positions. It will need to grow up quickly as Summit Academy opens the season with back-to-back road games at Union and Grantsville, two teams from the other 3A region that are loaded with returning starters. Hamilton said he’s curious to see how his young players cope with their first few Friday Night Lights experiences. After that, he believes they’ll be just fine.
Coaches preseason 3A South straw poll: Third
Deseret News 3A South prediction: Third
Key Region Game: vs. Juab, Sept. 28 (Week 7)
Bottom line: For the Summit Academy players who were on the field during last year’s heartbreaking semifinal loss, the long wait to the 2018 season is finally over. For the numerous players who watched that game from the sideline as JV players, their opportunity to help the program take that final step is finally here and they’re poised to take advantage. For many, this is their third year in the program and they know exactly what is expected and that could pay big dividends as the season wears on.
- Aug. 17 — at Union, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 24 — at Grantsville, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 31 — JUDGE MEMORIAL, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 7 — at Cardinal Newman, Calif, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — at Manti, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — at North Sanpete, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — JUAB, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — at Richfield, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 12 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Summit Academy
All-time record: 41-25 (6 years)
Region championships: 1 (2016)
Playoff appearances: 6
Current playoff appearance streak: 4 (2014-2017)
All-time playoff record: 5-6
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-1
- 2017 — 9-2 (4-1 in 3A South - 3A Semifinals)
- 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)
Summit Academy coaching history
- 2016-current — Les Hamilton (18-4)
- 2012-2015 — Scott Gorringe (23-21)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years1 comment on this story
- 2017 — Hunter Housel, S
- 2017 — Aaron Bailey, LB
- 2017 — Carson Wheaton, DE
- 2017 — Jesse Hooper, OL
- 2017 — Gavin Davey, WR
- 2017 — Hayden Reynolds, QB
- 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 Dartchner, DE
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.