Summit Tigers football defeats Thompson Valley in come-from-behind thriller
The Summit High School football team looked to improve its record to 2-0 on the season when the team hosted the Thompson Valley Eagles on Tiger Field in Breckenridge Friday, Sept. 2.
After winning its season opener against Woodland Park last Friday, Aug. 26, the Tigers worked throughout the week in order to prepare for Thompson Valley.
Despite having little film to review on the Eagles, the Tigers were able to push past Thompson Valley to remain undefeated on the season, winning 13-7.
Both 3A football teams got off to a slow start in the first half of the nonleague game Friday night. Out of the nine total possessions between the two teams in the first half, eight of them resulted in punts.
The two teams were feeling each other out for much of the half while the defense shut down the opposing team. For the Tigers offensive unit, the team had trouble working up the field and were often stopped after three downs.
The Eagles offense — spearheaded by junior quarterback Riley Suarez — was often swarmed by the Tigers defense, preventing the team from developing any sense of momentum.
The Tigers defense had a series of huge tackles in the first half by Ben Elam, G.C. Martinez and Keaton Smith.
However, on what would have been the Eagles fifth punt of the game, the Tigers made a mistake when senior Eli Krawczuk ran into the punter. This set up Thompson Valley for a first and 10 from the 24-yard line with 30 seconds remaining in the half.
Thompson Valley chose to be aggressive to close the half, taking shots at the end zone instead of settling for a field goal. The Eagles were successful after two straight passing attempts when a wide receiver broke past the Tigers to go up 7-0 to end the first half.
“We are still trying to figure out our groove,” head coach James Wagner said of the Tigers’ play in the first half. “And again it takes time to really do that and we will. It’s a new team and we are finding guys to make plays.”
In the second half, the Tigers took the field with more energy than it had to end the second quarter and started off its first possession with a series of first downs before being stopped by Thompson Valley.
After receiving a punt from Summit, the Eagles strung together another solid drive before Suarez was picked off by senior Will Koll.
The interception added more energy to the Tigers home crowd and sideline, preparing the team for another offensive possession.
“I think Will’s interception gave us some life,” Wagner said. “It’s a senior making a play and Will hasn’t been on the field since his sophomore year so he is starting to figure it out. It should grow here slowly, it’s just going to take some time for us to find our groove.”
The Tigers were able to piece together a few solid plays but the Eagles forced the team to a fourth down. This time, Summit chose to roll the dice and go for it on fourth down. The Thompson Valley defense came up big, stopping the Tigers and taking over on downs.
Still leading 7-0 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Eagles began a seven-plus-minute drive, which dug into the Tigers defense and the morale of the team.
Summit continued to fight against the Thompson Valley drive and forced the Eagles to bring out its field goal unit for a field goal attempt. A huge effort from Summit’s special team unit led to a blocked field goal and a turnover on downs for the Eagles.
Like the Koll interception, the blocked field goal helped raise the spirits of the Tigers, who were down 7-0 with around four minutes left in the final quarter of play.
Seniors Jack Schierholz, Zach Elam and Michael Cheek all led the Tigers toward the end zone. After being pushed back by the Thompson Valley defense, Schierholz connected with Zach Elam in the corner of the end zone to even the score at 7-7 with 2:46 remaining in the game.
The kickoff from Henry Eslich pinned the Eagles on the 3-yard line with 97 yards to go for the game-winning touchdown. Thompson Valley worked to move the ball up the field, but poor field position and stellar defense from Summit forced the team to punt.
Now with 45 seconds remaining in regulation, the Summit offense took over possession from the 17-yard line.
Schierholz looked to throw on the first snap of the possession, but he fell under pressure and ran toward the Summit sideline and out of bounds to stop the clock.
On the second snap, Schierholz was able to find Zach Elam in open space, who turned up field and, while being brought down by an Eagles defender, pitched it back to junior Jackson Archambault.
Archambault sprinted past the Eagles defense along the sideline, all the way to the end zone for the game winning touchdown for the Tigers.
“This is what happens when you have seniors — guys who have been together and want it,” Wagner said. “They don’t want to leave this field without knowing they gave everything they had. That’s the way our program is. A fight all the way to the end.I am proud of how they finished, all the way through.”
The Tigers will now play a series of games on the road before returning to Tiger Field Sept. 30 to take on Lincoln High School. Summit will travel to Conifer High School Friday, Sept. 9, and Wheat Ridge High School on Sept. 22.
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