BLUFFDALE — The Summit Academy-Juan Diego matchup is quickly moving up to become one of the state’s best.
The two schools, located about two miles apart, added another chapter to their short book Friday night after Kasey Briggs connected with Colin Dodge on three touchdown passes and Summit held on to claim a 28-19 win and claim the Region 13 championship on its home field.
“It was a wild one,” said Summit coach Les Hamilton, no stranger to exciting rivalry games in his long career. “We knew how this one would play out. They’re always wild games when we play them.”
Since Summit joined Juan Diego as a 3A school last year, the scores of the games have been 51-49 (Summit) and then Juan Diego earned a 38-37 victory in the state playoffs. The Bears needed big plays from Briggs and Dodge, but Cameron Fisher also recovered two fumbles and Karson Kitchen sealed the win with a pass interception, one play after a supposedly game-ending deflection was wiped out by penalty.
With the win, Summit improved to 7-2 overall and undefeated (5-0) in region, earning a first-round bye in the 3A playoffs that start next week.
“Great win for the team, the school and the program,” said Hamilton, while watching his player hoist the region trophy and show it off nearby to their fans. “This is a big step for us.”
Juan Diego dropped to 5-4 overall and 3-2 in region play. The Soaring Eagle will also make the playoffs. They could have tied for first place but had three turnovers and several uncharacteristic false-start penalties at critical times. They trailed 21-7 deficit at halftime, but got back into the game, thanks to 112 yards on 12 carries from Hunter Easterly, including a 4-yard touchdown run with 9:03 left that narrowed the margin to 21-19.
The Soaring Eagle tried to tie the game with a two-point conversion. But instead of giving the ball to Easterly again, they tried a trick play that Summit foiled immediately. Easterly had got Juan Diego back in the game when he opened the second half with a 49-yard run that led to a touchdown and he provided most of his team’s offensive highlights.1 comment on this story
Briggs and Dodge were Summit’s playmakers. They got Summit going early, with a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter to build a 14-0 lead. Jared Arellano was also perfect on his conversions all night and that made a difference. Despite being dominated in the opening half, Juan Diego was able to stay close when Gabriel Caceres recovered a fumble and rolled into the end zone from the 1-yard line.
The Soaring Eagle’s early offensive problems, however, proved too much to overcome.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story had misidentified Colin Judge.