Summit Tigers football overcomes Palisade for the first time in program history

Quarterback Jack Schierholz throws a touchdown pass during the Summit Tigers varsity football team's homecoming game against the Lincoln Lancers on Sept. 30th. Two weeks later, Summit beat Palisade High School for the first time in program history on Friday, Oct.14 to improve to 6-1 on the season.
John Hanson/For the Summit Daily News

After losing its first game of the season last Friday against Durango, the Summit High School football team took the field against the Palisade Bulldogs determined to get back on track with its first league win of the season.

The Tigers and Bulldogs battled for the entirety of the 48-minute game, and in the end, Summit beat Palisade for the first time in program history by a score of 28-18.

To start the game, Summit had trouble responding to the powerful running game of the Palisade. On Palisade’s first drive of the game, the team called running play after running play to march all the way to the red zone. 

Summit caught a bit of luck on third down and short when a Palisade running back fumbled the ball. Summit jumped on top of the ball to take over possession and send the offense out on the field for the first time of the night.

Summit failed to find a rhythm on its first possession of the game. After a quarterback keeper by senior Jack Schierholz, a running play for a loss via the legs of junior Ben Elam and a botched passing play, the Tigers were forced to punt the ball to Palisade.

Palisade was able to find success on its second possession of the game. Once again the team marched down the field while calling mostly running plays. 

After starting the drive at about midfield, Palisade was able to punch the ball into the end zone from the 3-yard line, putting Palisade up 7-0 with 10 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

The Summit offense looked more put together on their second drive of the game. Elam interjected life into the offense with a huge 27-yard run, while senior Christian Broughton kept the drive alive with a catch on fourth down and four.

A pass interference call on the Bulldogs set Elam up for the Tigers’ first touchdown of the game, rushing into the end zone from the 3-yard line.

Powered by the production of a touchdown from the Summit offense, the Tigers’ defense forced the Bulldogs to punt after three straight plays on the ground.

Eager to score before halftime, Schierholz marched Summit down the field but the drive resulted in a blocked field goal.

Both teams went into halftime tied 7-7.

“We had to keep it going, keep hitting them, stay in the game,” senior Zach Elam said of what the team’s attitude was as it took the field in the second half. 

After receiving the kickoff from the Bulldogs to start the fresh half, Summit strung a series of plays together to take the ball over to the Bulldogs’ side of the field and threaten the end zone. 

On a fourth down and 11 from the Bulldogs’ 34-yard-line, the Tigers kept its offense on the field. In the shotgun formation, Schierholz fired a pass through the hands of a Palisade defender and into the hands of junior Emilio Jain for a Summit touchdown. The Tigers led 13-7 after a blocked extra point.

Palisade settled for a field goal on their next drive, bringing the score to 13-10 with a little over two minutes remaining in the third quarter. 

Before the end of the quarter, Summit rushed down the field to put another touchdown on the scoreboard. This time Schierholz powered his way through the Palisade defense on the ground for a third Summit touchdown.

After a successful fake extra-point attempt from junior Hank Chabot, the Tigers led 21-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final quarter of play, Summit took care of business. After Palisade quarterback Malakhi Espinosa helped bring the score to 21-18, Schierholz sealed Summit’s first win over Palisade with a galloping 49-yard rushing touchdown.

Summit closed out the game to win 28-18 to improve to 6-1 on the season and 1-1 in league play.

“After last week’s loss, where we were getting at each other’s necks a little bit, I think this week we completely came back from that,” Elam said. “It really showed we are a family and that we can stick together.”

“I am so proud of the kids and coaches for responding like that,” head coach James Wagner said. “We have been trying to beat this team for four years now. It has been on our calendars for a long time. I told those seniors that this year was going to be the year, and you could see it in their faces that they were so proud.”

Beyond the outstanding games from Schierholz, Broughton, Ben Elam and Jain, Wagner was impressed by the play of seniors Eli Krawczuk, Ronaldo Wray and PJ Trujillo.

Next week, Summit will host Glenwood Springs High School on Friday, Oct. 21, from Tiger Field in Breckenridge. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.

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