Summit Tigers football team brings ‘brotherhood’ of seniors to the gridiron
It has been close to 300 days since the Summit High School football team has played under the lights at Tiger Field in Breckenridge, but the team won’t have to wait much longer until the return of “Friday night lights” in Summit County.
After finishing last season with the best record the program has seen in the last 10 years, the 2022 Summit football team has not let up chomping at the bit.
The team’s season came to a bittersweet end in 2021 when the team won its last game of the regular season against Steamboat Spring, 55-27, but barely missed the playoffs with a record of 7-3 and a league record of 4-1.
Since the Tigers’ season abruptly ended the team has been prowling for a second chance to make the 3A state playoffs, putting in valuable work this offseason to get better in both the weight room and on the football field.
Despite putting in work the Tigers are not hyper-focused on what happened last season but rather are focused on the challenges in the season ahead.
“It is a new season and what is in the past is in the past,” head coach James Wagner said. “It was a great season for Summit High School but we know it is a new season. We want to continue to build and head in the right direction.”
Wagner and the rest of the Summit High School coaching staff are hoping that the hard work pays dividends on the football field this season. Wagner spoke earlier this year about how far the summer football program has come since he took over the head coaching job in the summer of 2019.
Over the past several summers more and more athletes have attended summer offseason practices allowing the team to gain chemistry and experience before the stadium lights shine down upon them in the fall.
“It’s been cool to see the camaraderie of the kids,” Wagner said of the summer program. “This is where the winning happens. These kids have been playing together for the last three years now and I am pretty sure they are in it for the right reasons.”
Wagner will be led this season by a huge core of 22 seniors who will look to fill the holes left by the graduating class of 2021. The senior class is the first freshman class Wagner has coached from freshman to senior year, so for him, this season is special.
Among the 22 seniors are the Tigers’ three captains: Jack Schierholz, Eli Krawczuk and Keaton Smith.
Schierholz will return to be the Tiger’s QB1 for his senior campaign. Schierholz is coming off a 2021 football season where he recorded 1,968 yards, 23 touchdowns and only nine interceptions for a quarterback rating of 107.1.
After targeting recent graduate Aidan Collins for the majority of his pass attempts during the 2021 season, Schierholz will start this season looking for a new go-to wide receiver. Schierholz will have plenty of senior classmates to choose from including Christian Broughton, Zachary Elam, River McClung and Will Koll in the tight-end position.
Krawczuk will lead the team from his position on the offensive and defensive line. In the 10 games Krawczuk played last season, he recorded 40 tackles, 18 being solo, and earned three sacks.
Smith will return to the Tigers as a dual-threat player who plays both running back and linebacker. Last season, Smith was dominant in the linebacker position recording 44 total tackles, 21 of which were solo and assisting on 23 others.
“They understand what is at stake and understand the expectations,” Wagner said of the leadership of the senior core. “When you have guys that have been in the program the last three years and understand the program it becomes a special thing, and the kids hold each other accountable.”
Wagner says one of the best parts of being the Summit football coach over the last few years has been watching this year’s group of seniors grow. It is through this growth that the team has almost become a “brotherhood.”
“One of the biggest team goals that we have this year has been to establish a brotherhood and leave no brother left behind,” Wagner said. “These guys do pretty well at that and keep each other on the same page.”
With less than two weeks until the start of the 2022 football season, Wagner is looking forward to the team continuing to build and grow. On Saturday, Aug. 13 the team even took the opportunity to bond over a few spirited games of paintball.
The Tigers will have their first test of the season on Saturday, Aug. 20 when the team hosts Basalt and Evergreen for a scrimmage between the three teams. The Tigers will then host Woodland Park on Friday, Aug. 26 for its first game of the season.
“With school starting next week it’s going to be really cool to see how the team spirit grows over the next two weeks and builds up to Friday night (Aug. 26),” Wagner said. “I am excited to have the stands packed, the crowd roaring and the lights turned back on. I can’t wait for the opportunity to be out there and watch these kids compete.”
Aug. 26 vs. Woodland Park, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 vs. Thompson Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Conifer, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Wheat Ridge, 6 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Lincoln, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Durango, 6 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Palisade, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 vs. Glenwood Springs, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 at Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 at Eagle Valley, 7 p.m.
*The Summit Daily News is planning on live streaming all Summit High School football home games on Facebook Live. Like the Summit Daily News Facebook profile for the most up-to-date information.
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