Summit Tigers football trounces Steamboat Springs 24-3 | SummitDaily.com

Summit Tigers football trounces Steamboat Springs 24-3

The Summit football team defeated Steamboat Springs 24-3 on Friday night in Breckenridge, giving the Tigers their first victory at home in at least the last two years.

"It feels good," coach John Shirkey said after the game with a throng of Summit Tigers fans still screaming in the background. "Like I said last week on the radio, we get incredible support from our community. We haven't won at home in a long time, and we still have a student section that's going crazy, parents that are going crazy. It's good to get a win for them and get some excitement back into Summit football."

He wasn't alone in those feelings, either.

"It feels awesome," said Tigers senior wide receiver and safety Vale Hildebrand before going off to celebrate with his team and fans.

The Tigers (1-1) struck first when running back David Birmingham followed Dylan Lane's block into the end zone with 8:11 remaining in the first quarter.

Summit kicker ZE David Sanchez's extra point made it 7-0, and the score would stay that way until he turned a stalled Tigers' drive at the beginning of the second quarter into a field goal to put Summit ahead by 10.

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Throughout the game, the Tigers' defense was stingy, and though bend it may have at times, the defense did not break.

Instead, the Tigers forced turnovers, kept pressure on the quarterback and recorded numerous sacks, while preventing the handful of big plays Steamboat (0-2) had from ever finding the end zone.

Hildbrand scored twice for Summit, once on offense and another on defense when he returned an interception almost 60 yards for a touchdown with just under 8 minutes left in the third quarter.

Hildebrand, whom Shirkey called "one of the best players (he's) ever coached" would have had added a third score on a halfback pass he caught at the end of the half, but it was called back for a penalty.

"This week was a lot different because we had a run game," Hildebrand said. "It opened up a lot of the whole offense."

For most of the game, Summit called runs up the middle, pounding Steamboat's defensive line and linebackers while softening the Sailors' pass defense for the Tigers' aerial attack.

Shirkey said that was something Summit was missing last week and part of their gameplan coming into this contest.

"We got some good connections there too," said Hildebrand, who caught a 35-yard touchdown strike from Tigers QB Jake Gillum with 4:45 remaining in the game, to put Summit up by three touchdowns.

"It's a lot of fun, especially throwing touchdown passes to Vale," Gillum said. "He's a great receiver and has been my friend for the last two years."

Gillum was quick to give credit to his team, and like Hildebrand, he said the success of the Tigers' running game and defense did wonders the quarterback and receivers.

"It makes it so much easier knowing that you have a good defense," Gillum said. "Relying on them, you know that if the offense goes three-and-out, the defense has your back."

Penalties were a recurring problem for Summit, and in the second quarter with Steamboat punting at mid-field on fourth down, a roughing the kicker call keep the Sailors' drive alive. Steamboat couldn't make the most of the opportunity, but the Sailors did punch through a short field goal for their only score of the game.

Coach Shirkey said he felt like many of those mistakes were a result of his team playing aggressively, and that's something he can live with.

"We can coach those up," he said, adding that it's still only the second week of the season.

The victory came as a welcome addition to the Tigers' win column, but Shirky said his team shouldn't be satisfied and has to stay focused on one week at a time.

"It's easy to enjoy it, enjoy it too much, and say, 'It's good enough,'" he said of the victory. "But that's our job as coaches, and we rely on our captains and seniors to help us pull people along. We have to get better every week, and our goal is to go 1-0 each week."

The Tigers' next game is Sept. 8 on the road against Niwot in a non-conference matchup.

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