Summit High football proud of first season under Wagner despite season-ending loss at Palisade
The Summit High School varsity football team wrapped up its season on Thursday night with a 42-6 loss at Palisade. With the win, over the Tigers, Palisade went 5-0 to win the 3A Western Slope League, with an overall record of 7-3.
The Tigers battled through injuries all night long, as sophomore running back and linebacker Alex Sanchez wasn’t able to go due to injury while junior quarterback and defensive back Cam Kalaf and senior wide receiver and safety Alexi Nevarez were both lost to injuries in the first half.
Tigers senior linebacker and offensive lineman Al Espinosa was also injured during the game, but was able to return to serve as the heartbeat of the Tigers offensive and defensive attacks in the Peak School senior’s final game for the Tigers (3-7, 2-3 3A Western Slope).
Heading into the game, Summit installed an offensive package that featured Espinosa, who typically plays on the offensive line, at running back. Espinosa was able to tote the ball a couple of times for about 20 yards to go out on a high note despite his injury early in the game.
“Just a gutty performance,” Summit first-year head coach James Wagner said of Espinosa. “That kid all year long has been a rock for us, a guy we have relied on game in and game out. It meant so much for him to be on the field. To be there and the mentality to not just give up but to continue fighting through, it just sent a message to all my younger guys that this game means a lot. I really wish we could have had that kid in the backfield all year long, but with the numbers and personnel we had, we had to. It was awesome to see him run the ball a little bit.”
The Tigers scored their lone touchdown of the game in the third quarter, when backup freshman quarterback Jack Schierholz threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Tucker Broughton. Along with those two players, Wagner also complimented sophomore wide receiver and defensive back Aidan Collins, junior wide receiver and defensive back Kobe Cortright and offensive and defensive lineman Graham Kalaf for strong performances that are a hint of what’s to come in future seasons.
Aug. 30: vs. Salida, W 50-28
Sept. 6: vs. Moffat County, L 41-8
Sept. 13: vs. Conifer, L, 56-19
Sept. 20: at Woodland Park, L, 49-10
Sept. 27: at Elizabeth, L, 38-0
Oct. 11-12: Homecoming – vs. Battle Mountain, W, 35-12
Oct. 18: at Eagle Valley, L, 12-7
Oct. 25: at Steamboat Springs, W, 19-7
Nov. 1: vs. Glenwood Springs, L, 36-30
Nov. 8: at Palisade, L, 42-6
“I think we made a lot of progression in terms of our culture,” Wagner said of this season. “The camaraderie that’s within our guys, at the end of the game, all of our freshman being heartbroken not to be able to play with our seniors again, it was very sad and emotional. And all of these kids were so excited to continue to work in the offseason, I think just the camaraderie and what this season has brought for a bunch of our guys, we’ll continue to build going into the offseason with good momentum.”
In the offseason. Wagner said the Tigers will take a couple weeks off before getting back in the weight room. Through the offseason Wagner plans to meet with each position group monthly before a 2-week spring camp to go over basics. Before next season, the coach hopes to conduct some 7-on-7 sessions as well.
“The biggest thing is to improve depth,” Wagner said. “To get more kids bought in and out on the field, to have them come out and compete. And a lot of that is not only depth, it’s having guys in the weight room and buying into weights, building the program inside the weight room itself.”
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