The Summit Tiger football team snapped its five-game losing streak Friday with a 31-13 win over the in-conference Alameda Pirates.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Tigers were ahead 24-0, looking like they might dish out a shutout rather than be handed one, but when the Tigers put younger players on the field on both sides of the ball, it allowed the Pirates a slight comeback.
"It was nice ... to get some points under our belt last night," head coach Dylan Hollingsworth said. "That was a good start to the evening. And hopefully, we'll get rid of that monkey-on-our-back feeling ... in regards to all the bounces and everything."
All season, Hollingsworth has been quick to credit his defense for either keeping the team in the game or creating the opportunity for a win. Friday night was no different, starting early on with senior defensive back Coy Coker stripping the ball from the Pirates and setting the stage for the second touchdown of the game.
"Ben Sloan has been playing unbelievable football lately," Hollingsworth said, adding that the senior defensive back has led the team in tackles in recent games. Friday night, he tallied seven, tied with senior defensive lineman Nolan Rookey. Senior linebacker Nic Berry put up six tackles in the game against the Pirates.
The Tigers wanted to shut down the Pirates' running game, and did.
"They're a double-wing team," Hollingsworth said. "All they wanted to do is run the ball. We wanted to take that away as much as possible."
It worked. Senior defensive lineman Cayman Lee intercepted a Pirate throw, reversing its direction for a Tiger touchdown.
On offense, Berry and senior quarterback Sean Farley each brought the ball to the endzone, with Farley adding a field goal to the mix.
"We really started to establish a running game, and did that pretty well," Hollingsworth said.
The Tiger offense saw three turnovers - all three were interceptions - in the game, with Farley's throws floating a little long and creating problems.
Berry and Farley did the bulk of the work on offense, with Berry carrying 16 times for 118 yards and Farley rushing eight times for 105 yards. The team totaled 357 rushing yards on 47 attempts during the game. The fullbacks chipped in more than usual Friday night, with junior Nick Cousino putting up 39 yards in eight attempts. Junior Duncan Roberts and senior CJ Moll helped relieve some of Berry's running duties, too.
Several weeks ago, Hollingsworth said he wanted to find a way to take some of the load off Berry, but so far, the team still leans heavily on the senior running back. Attempts to ease the burden have been unsuccessful, Hollingsworth said, "because in relieving him, we fell behind in other things. I need to find a way to get other kids involved."
Hollingsworth has a few guys in mind, including senior running back Vince Flores, who had six rushes for 63 yards.
"I need for him to really step it up these last three weeks," Hollingsworth said. "He's a kid who can come help Nic."
There's also the possibility of involving Rookey more in the tight end slot. He had a few significant catches Friday night, including play action opening him up for a 37-yard catch early in the game.
"We need to find a way to keep him more involved. He's too good a player. We need to get him the ball," Hollingsworth said.
Sitting on a 2-5 record after Friday's win, the Tigers set their sights on Arvada, a "vastly improved" team, Hollingsworth said. Under the guidance of the former D'Evelyn defensive coordinator, the team promises to be competition for the Tigers.
"For us, it's another week to improve. We're taking this one step at a time. If we can play like we did Friday night, we feel like we can handle our own," Hollingsworth said.
That is, provided the Tigers can ward off the penalties and turnovers that are proving to be their offensive Achilles heel this season.