Bears win state championship
Nov 20, 2018 11:38AM
● By Greg James
Summit Academy High School in Bluffdale won its first state football championship. (photo courtesy of Summit Academy)
By Greg James | [email protected]
In its second attempt, Summit Academy High School’s football team won its first-ever state championship.
As the sun set over the Great Salt Lake Nov. 10, the Bears took the field at Weber State University. Led by head coach Les Hamilton, they had overcome their new rivals, Juan Diego, to play for the 3A Utah High School Activities Association championship.
“We work hard every year, and it’s hard to win that last one,” Hamilton said. “I am proud of these guys and what this represents.”
The Bears defeated the North Sanpete Hawks 55-18 for the championship. They never trailed in the contest. The win closed out a successful season.
The Bears cruised to a 3A south division championship. They compiled a 5-0 region record and finished 10-2 overall.
The road to the championship was not an easy one. They lost two preseason games. The most implicating was a 35-24 defeat at the hands of the Grantsville Cowboys. The Bears offense was held to 15 yards rushing in the contest. Their second loss came at the hands of a powerful Cardinal Newman High School in California.
The loss to the team from California catapulted the team toward an undefeated region schedule. It also opened the playbook offensively for the Bears. In their final five regular season game, they averaged 34 points per game.
Senior Kasey Briggs led the team at quarterback. The Corner Canyon transfer threw for 2,176 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also ran for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
“Kasey has gotten better as the season has gone along,” Hamilton said. “He completed 68–69 percent of his passes all season. He has minimized the number of interceptions.”
The Bears’ offense was more than one dimensional. Talmage Brown carried the ball 105 times and had 11 touchdowns. None of his carries were bigger than the 33-yard touchdown in the state semifinals. He turned the corner after stiff-arming the Juan Diego defender and turned on the jets for the score. His run solidified the Bears’ lead.
The Bears had defeated North Sanpete earlier in the season 14-10. North Sanpete had not competed in a team sport state championship in 50 years.
“We were really confident,” Hamilton said. “We have seen some improvement all year long. We knew North Sanpete was going to be tough defensively. We wanted to get up on them early. We needed to have good stops on defense and stop their run game.”
Summit Academy started strong with the long opening kickoff return. Brown sprinted down the sideline to the North Sanpete 15-yard line. Three plays later, Briggs hit Astyn Brady cutting across the middle for the first touchdown. The Bears never looked back, leading 28-0 into the second quarter.
Brown ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another in the game. Carson Wheaton led the Bears with 11 tackles on defense in the victory. Briggs also threw for three touchdowns.
Hamilton is in his third year as the Bears’ head coach. The team last played in the state final in 2014 under the direction of Scott Gorringe.