Oh, what a rush: Summit football rides run-heavy attack, aggressive defense to home win versus Eagle Valley
With just four games remaining in the season and other Tiger players knicked up, Summit High School varsity head football coach John Shirkey and his staff figured, ‘what the heck?’ Why not utilize starting senior quarterback Brendan Collins’ athleticism in the secondary versus Eagle Valley Friday night? With his career soon coming to an end, it only made sense.
With five seconds left in the Tigers’ 20-7 victory over the Devils, Collins put the exclamation point on the win with an interception from a centerfield position. In his first game playing defense, he pilfered a pick from his fellow senior captain Max Duxbury, who was in the perfect spot for the interception as well.
“I was there ready for that, and he just came over the top of me,” Duxbury said with a laugh after the game. “I was pissed.”
With the game over, as the Tigers’ players celebrated in the near end zone, Collins tried to retrieve Summit’s turnover chain from midfield. But there was only one problem: He couldn’t find the key.
“It’s a big deal for our kids,” Shirkey said after the game, “the last two weeks, we’ve had some technical difficulties to unlock it. But he’s probably got it on in the locker room right now.”
Again without their stud sophomore running back Noah Martens, due to injury, the Tigers combined a dynamic wingback-based rushing attack with one major passing play to take control of the contest early versus the Devils Friday night. Fewer than two minutes into the game, Summit took a lead it would never relinquish when they executed a double-pass play. After receiving a bubble-screen pass from Collins, Cameron Kalaf launched a 40-plus-yard bomb to senior captain wide receiver Angel Arrendondo for the early 7-0 lead.
“We call it ‘Double Bubble,’” Shirkey said. “It’s an awesome play. We usually throw it more and set it up a little bit more and then throw deep. But we just felt like, ‘you know what, with their secondary and our guys, we feel like we could catch ‘em off balance a little bit, throw it a little earlier.’ We’ve had a lot of success with that play, and it amazes me every time because we run it almost every week and we score a lot of touchdowns on it.”
The early offensive strike jived well with Summit’s defensive gameplan of forcing the Devils into obvious passing downs and then consistently bringing pass rush pressure to prevent Eagle Valley from having any time of connecting on passes.
Viewing Summit’s defensive play in front of him from his secondary position, Duxbury was elated to see how his teammates filled gaps on downfield runs and sniffed out screen pass plays.
“Jason Murray and Dan Gonzalez were two big game changers breaking in and getting sacks,” Duxbury said. “It was fun to watch. Everyone was getting fired up.”
The Tigers took that 7-0 lead into a second half during which Summit almost exclusively ran the football. In that second half, between Duxbury’s 131 second period rushing yards, Kalaf’s 68 rushing yards and Jackson Veeneman’s 30 rushing yards, the Tigers ran those three players 26 times to just two passes. Summit truly took control of the game at the start of the fourth quarter via a 25-yard touchdown run through a gap in the right side of the line of scrimmage by Kalaf. It was the capstone on a methodical drive during which Veeneman had multiple strong runs and Duxbury broke a pitch off tackle for a big gain.
“By the end of the week everyone was extremely confident in what they were doing,” Duxbury said. “And it was a different attitude on the field when we came out. Everyone was fired up and ready to play. On that play, all week Coach Mase was forcing me to not run the outside and not break it out, but rather cut upfield. On Thursday, it really started to click in my head. And when it happened, I got to see it work game speed.”
After improving their record to 2-5 and 1-1 in Western Slope league play with the win, the Tigers are slated to return for a home tilt versus Steamboat Springs on Friday night.
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