Watch: Penalties, turnovers derail Summit football in 33-20 loss at Kennedy
Tigers return to Summit High for homecoming Friday, Sept. 24, versus Middle Park
DENVER — Costly penalties and momentous turnovers tripped up the Summit High School varsity football team (2-2) in a 33-20 loss at John. F Kennedy High School (2-2) Saturday, Sept. 18.
Playing at All City Stadium, the Tigers were in a bad situation early after Antonio Massengile returned the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and ensuing 2-point conversion and 8-0 lead.
Summit settled in over the majority of the remainder of the first half, as the Tigers defense did its best job to contain and corral Commanders dual-threat quarterback Isaac Sisneros. Sisneros entered the day as one of the state’s leading passing-and-rushing combos at quarterback, but Summit held his scramble-ability in check early despite some scintillating scrambles by Sisneros — and despite losing senior inside linebacker Jackson Segal after the first few minutes due to a groin injury.
Without Segal, Summit’s remaining stout stable of linebackers stepped up, namely junior Keaton Smith and senior Alex Sanchez. Wagner’s approach heading into the game was for guys like Smith and Summit’s edge players to prevent Sisneros from scrambling to the sideline, ultimate forcing the gunslinger back into big, disruptive Eli Krawczuk on the interior defensive line.
“Eli inside, he’s a monster in there, and he made plenty of plays even if the PA announcer wasn’t calling his name,” Tigers head coach James Wagner said. “And, Keaton, he played out of his mind today. The kid is so smart. He understands what we’re asking him to do. He had so many tackles. And their screen passes — he shut them down every single time. He was the defensive player of the game, in my mind.”
With the Tigers defense refusing to give up a Kennedy point until the final two minutes of the half, Summit’s offense had several opportunities to drive downfield. Starting with their first drive, they strung first downs and positive plays together, but the Tigers couldn’t finish drives once they were on Kennedy’s side of the field. The Tigers’ lone first-half touchdown came on the first play of the second quarter on a Jack Schierholz quarterback dive from the shotgun. The Tigers followed up Schierholz’s touchdown with a 2-point conversion by senior running back Alex Sanchez to tie the game.
Summit’s defense held strong on the ensuing Commanders drive, Tigers senior defensive back Malachi Ryan breaking up a Sisneros pass at the last moment to earn the team a fourth-down stop. On the ensuing play from midfield, Schierholz had his best pass of the night. The Tigers took a shot and the junior gunslinger found Tigers senior wide receiver Phil Berezinski streaking down the sideline inside the Commanders 10-yard line after besting his defender in a one-on-one matchup. It was one of several plays Berezinski made on the day despite cramps.
LIVE: Summit Tigers at JFK Denver Join sports editor Antonio Olivero for the live broadcast…Posted by Summit Daily News on Saturday, September 18, 2021
“Phil is going to be someone we use down the stretch,” Wagner said. “We know how Aidan (Collins) is the man, but Phil is developing his game and gaining more trust as we go.”
A few plays later, Sanchez seemingly found the end zone for a 14-8 lead, but the Tigers were called for a holding to negate the score. Summit seemed to score again a moment later on third-and-goal when a scrambling Schierholz found sophomore tight end Gus Decker in the end zone. But the quarterback was called for an illegal forward pass as he crossed the line of scrimmage. Summit would turn the ball over on downs on fourth-and-goal from the 15-yard line.
After Krawczuk forced a Kennedy punt with a third down stop behind the line of scrimmage, Summit’s offense got behind the chains thanks to penalties and they were forced to punt again. Then, on Kennedy’s next drive, Sisneros fumbled on a strong run to halt a solid Commanders drive.
With 1:53 left in the half and the score still deadlocked 8-8, Summit seemingly scored another touchdown, this time on a 49-yard catch and run by Collins. But Summit junior tight end Brecken Perlow was called for a block in the back that negated the tally.
LIVE: Summit Tigers at JFK Denver Join sports editor Antonio Olivero for the live second half broadcast, as the Tigers try to comeback from a 20-8 halftime deficit…Posted by Summit Daily News on Saturday, September 18, 2021
That was the first of three nightmarish plays that swung the game in favor of the Commanders. First, Schierholz threw an interception in the end zone to Commander junior cornerback Ron Gallegos III. Then Sisneros found junior Josiah Garcia on a well-designed 80-yard wheel-route touchdown.
To make matters worse, after a Tigers 3-and-out, JFK scored on the final drive of the half to take a 20-8 lead into the half.
In the third quarter, JFK tacked on 13 more points as Summit penalties derailed their first drive. A pick six then hijacked Summit’s second drive when Garcia jumped an out route from Schierholz to Perlow for a 55-yard interception returned for a touchdown and 26-8 Commanders lead. Before the end of the third, Sisneros found Gallegos on an 80-yard go-route bomb down the sideline that, with a PAT, ballooned the lead to 33-20.
Despite the lethalness of Kennedy’s explosive plays, Summit rebounded to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Both were touchdown strikes from reserve sophomore quarterback Hank Chabot, one to KJ Slaugh and one to Collins, as Schierholz was kept out of the game with dizziness. In the final 90 seconds, Summit had a chance to keep the game alive, but the Commanders recovered their own punt after Collins touched the ball when trying to make a difficult play.
Summit will return to Tiger Stadium for homecoming at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, night versus Middle Park.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way,” Wagner said. “You march up and down the field and you can’t put the ball in — it’s hard to swallow. We’ve got to learn from our mistakes and move forward.”
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