Summit Academy (9-2) vs. North Sanpete (7-4)
3A state championship
Saturday, 4 p.m. (at Weber State)
Parry’s Power Guide: Summit Academy by 12
All-time series: Summit Academy leads 2-0
Coach vs. coach: Summit Academy’s Les Hamilton leads North Sanpete’s Rhett Bird, 2-0
Last meeting: Sept. 21, 2018 – Summit Academy 14, North Sanpete 10
It’s already been a historic season for North Sanpete football, but everyone associated with the program hopes to add one more layer of awesome this weekend.
In bouncing Morgan with an awesome defensive performance in the 3A semis last week, North Sanpete not only advanced to its first state championship game in its 103-year history but also became the first Utah team to ever follow-up a winless season by reaching the title game the next year.
It’s been a surreal season for a program that went 0-10 in 2017, and the Hawks hope they’re not done yet. North Sanpete faces top-ranked Summit Academy in the 3A championship at Weber State this Saturday at 4 p.m.
If the final follows a similar script from the region game between these two games back in September — which Summit Academy won 14-10 — Saturday’s showdown should be very tight.
“They totally frustrated our offense that night and we have a big challenge ahead of us to be consistent on offense and minimizing turnovers and trying to get some points on the board,” said Summit Academy coach Les Hamilton.
North Sanpete led visiting Summit Academy 10-0 late in the third quarter in their prior meeting, but Kasey Briggs threw an 80-yard TD pass and then a 63-yard TD pass down the stretch to key the comeback win.
Briggs’ steady presence is a big reason Summit Academy has won seven straight games since its loss at Cardinal Newman (California) High on Sept. 7.
“Kasey Briggs moved to Bluffdale over the offseason and he’s been a huge asset to us. He’s just been fantastic. He’s the most accurate passer I’ve ever coached. He’s at almost 69 percent completion, which is pretty impressive for how much we throw the ball,” said Hamilton.
Briggs’ accuracy combined with the playmaking ability of running back Talmage Brown and receivers Collin Dodge and Parker Clawson have made the Bears an extremely difficult offense to stop. It leads 3A with 35.8 ppg.
Over Summit Academy’s seven-game winning streak North Sanpete is the only team that’s successfully slowed it down.
Last week Summit Academy raced past Juan Diego 40-6 to advance to its first championship game since 2014 when it lost to South Summit in the 2A final.
Hamilton said minimizing turnovers and being patiently offensively against North Sanpete’s stout defense is imperative.
The Hawks have only given up more than two touchdowns once all season, which came in a 36-29 season-ending loss to Juab. They quickly put that disappointment to rest with playoff wins over Union and Morgan.
Connor Jorgensen and Brock Justesen have been the catalysts defensively and they’ll need to be sharp again in the championship because North Sanpete doesn’t feature a quick-strike offense that can dig out of a sizeable deficit.
Both teams have a pretty good idea what to expect on Saturday. Not only have the teams been in the same region the past two years but they’ve also attended the same USU Eastern team camp in Price the past three summers.
“We scrimmage each other, do 7-on-7s, do talent shows and move nights together,” said Hamilton. “We know each other really well.”
On top of that, North Sanpete defensive coordinator Dave Peck has been game planning for Hamilton offenses going back a decade when they were the head coaches at Bingham and Alta during four years of memorable clashes from 2006 to 2009.
Hamilton said Peck defenses always make things difficult on offenses with multiple looks and coverages.
Summit Academy statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 35.8 ppg (1st in 3A)
Scoring defense: 17.7 ppg (3rd in 3A)
Passing leader: Kasey Briggs (184-268, 68.7%, 2,633 yards, 26 TDs, 11 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Talmage Brown (153 carries, 913 yards, 17 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Parker Clawson (49 rec., 695 yards, 8 TDs), Colin Dodge (38 rec., 637 yards, 10 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Cade Powers (79 tackles), Carson Wheaton (72 tackles)
Sack leaders: Carson Wheaton (7 sacks), Cade Powers (4 sacks)
Interception leaders: Karson Kitchen (4 INTs), Mason Shafer (3 INTs)
North Sanpete statistical breakdown
(Note: Semifinal individual stats haven’t been reported yet)
Scoring offense: 17.9 ppg (9th in 3A)
Scoring defense: 13.4 ppg (2nd in 3A)
Passing leader: Chance Clawson (59-124, 47.6%, 762 yards, 7 TDs, 7 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Brock Justesen (93 carries, 490 yards, 5 TDs), Maison Burgess (114 carries, 424 yards, 1 TD), Connor Jorgensen (57 carries, 446 yards, 3 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Connor Jorgensen (19 rec., 214 yards, 1 TD), Ethan Bowles (14 rec., 209 yards, 4 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Connor Jorgensen (51 tackles), Brock Justesen (46 tackles)
Sack leaders: Brage Anderson (7.5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Cesar Lemus (4 INTs), Payton Clawson (4 INTs)
Felt’s Facts for Summit Academy High School
Head Coach: 2016-current — Les Hamilton (27-6)
All-time record: 50-27 (7 years)
Region championships: 2 (2016, 2018)
Playoff appearances: 72 comments on this story
Current playoff appearance streak: 5 (2014-2018)
All-time playoff record: 7-6
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-1
Felt’s Facts for North Sanpete High School
Head Coach: 2016-current — Rhett Bird (11-19)
All-time record: 309-452-19 (103 years)
Region championships: 11 (1923, 1984 co, 1990, 1996 co, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003 co, 2004 co, 2005 co, 2015 co)
Playoff appearances: 29
Current playoff appearance streak: 7 (2011-2018)
All-time playoff record: 12-28
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0