Summit High football musters 3 big passing touchdowns in 56-19 loss to Conifer
BRECKENRIDGE – Heading into Friday evening’s Salute to Service night contest against visiting Conifer, Summit varsity football head coach James Wagner and his team knew the kind of challenge they were in for. Coming off of a convincing 35-6 victory on the road at Woodland Park to open the season, longtime Lobo head coach Larry Fitzmaurice’s team appeared to pose maybe the toughest test to the Tigers all season.
The Lobos (2-0) did just that on a clear-sky night at Tiger Stadium, racing out to a 35-0 lead.
When trailing by five touchdowns against such a physically-imposing team, the first-year Tigers head coach Wagner knows that’s a tough spot for any high school athlete to be in. Human nature is to quit in the moment. But the Tigers (1-2) didn’t succumb to that in the eventual 56-19 loss. Junior quarterback Cam Kalaf bounced back from some early mistakes and turnovers to find senior tight end Daniel Gonzalez for a 23-yard touchdown pass at the 4:39 mark of the second quarter.
Gonzalez would eventually catch another touchdown pass which, paired with a Kalaf-to-Cortright touchdown pass, bought the Tigers within 56-19 before the final whistle.
Reflecting on Friday evening’s game, Wagner said the Tigers had a good 2-hour practice session on Saturday morning, watching film and seeing where things went wrong the night before. He said he is happy with the resolve the young Tigers — just two seniors started Friday night — have shown ahead of their first road game of the season Friday a Woodland Park (1-1).
“I’m really proud of my kids,” Wagner said, “one of the biggest things we improved on this week was our attitude and demeanor. Last week we kind of beat up on each other when the going got tough. This week we kept fighting when the going got tough, picking up each other.”
Despite the two consecutive losses, Wagner is still confident the Tigers can make some noise once 3A Western Slope League play starts. That includes a passing game that showed flashes Friday night, the kind that, when clicking on all cylinders, has the weapons to score on most anybody.
Friday night though the Tigers were up against a seasoned, senior-heavy Conifer team that, Wagner said, looked like what the Tigers hope to look like with a multi-year commitment to the weight room. Despite the disadvantage physically and in terms of experience, Gonzalez showed his physicality on that first touchdown by beating press coverage split wide and winning his matchup against man-to-man coverage.
On Gonzalez’s second touchdown, with 11 minutes left in the game, the tight end took advantage of a one-high safety look out of a 3-point stance. The trips concept forced the Conifer safety to make a decision, leaving Gonzalez open streaking down the middle of the field.
As for the other big play passing touchdown, with 5:37 left in the third quarter Kalaf found Cortright on a 41-yard touchdown pass down the sideline via a go route.
“That was just another matchup thing,” Wagner said. ” We took advantage of it and Cam threw a really nice ball. Again, when we execute, we are a nice little ball club.”
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