Tigers can’t find end zone despite strong defensive showing
FARMER’S KORNER – It is said defense wins championships. But it can’t do it alone. In fact, defense alone can’t even win a game.
The Summit High School football team proved that again Friday night with its fourth straight shutout loss – 13-0 to previously winless Alameda.
The Tigers stopped the Pirates on three fourth downs in the second half and forced two turnovers. But offensively, Summit never got closer than the Alameda 24-yard line. That drive, in the first quarter, ended on a Cory Olson interception. It was one of six Tigers turnovers in the game.
“Each one of these games we’ve had a shot in. We’ve had opportunities,” said Summit coach Rob Royer.
In an effort to shake up the offense, the Tigers have tried two different quarterbacks and a handful of different tailbacks. Starting runner Aaron Bork has been relegated to only defense with a broken thumb.
Preston Johnson started the season as quarterback, was moved to tailback, and Friday night played a little of both.
Johnson led the Tigers with 70 yards rushing and seems to be getting comfortable carrying the ball from the tailback spot.
“I felt like I knew what I was doing this game,” Johnson said. “It felt good, but it still hurts to lose.”
Jack St. John also had a solid game at fullback, running for almost 40 yards, mostly between the tackles. But the Tigers are still searching for a way to sustain drives and find the goal line.
“I’m gonna have to do a better job,” said Royer, who doubles as Summit’s offensive coordinator. “I’ll take this one on my shoulders. We’re gonna have to get the ball in the end zone.
“We’re all working toward a similar goal, and we just haven’t found the recipe for it.”
The Tigers didn’t allow Alameda a first down until the beginning of the second quarter. Summit’s strength is run defense and – when the Tigers were fresh in the first half – they stuffed the Pirates’ wishbone offense and bruising 190-pound fullback Steven Morrison.
Summit was winning the field-position battle until a fumbled snap gave Alameda the ball near midfield midway through the second quarter. Morrison took advantage with a 30-yard run on first down. But the Summit defense held, stopping the Pirates on the 1-yard line on fourth down.
Then, after a three-and-out by Summit and a nifty punt return by Alameda’s Clinton Smith, the Pirates found themselves on the Summit 14-yard line.
On first down, Ben Vanhorne threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Joel Yaw with a minute left in the first half.
Summit stayed within a touchdown through most of the second half with timely defensive stops on fourth down and a Ryan Clift interception in the end zone.
Summit was set up for one last drive after forcing an Alameda punt with about five minutes to play. But the Pirates recovered their own punt when the officials ruled that the ball hit the foot of John Wheeler, who was in the processes of blocking his man.
Summit forced a fumble but was too deep in its own territory and had too little time to launch a legitimate game-tying drive. Johnson threw an interception on the first play of the drive when Wheeler lost his footing on a pass route. It led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Morrison that iced the game.
“We just need to practice hard and keep our heads up,” Johnson said. “Because we’re a good football team and good football teams win, and it’ll come for us.”
Summit has another chance next Saturday, when it travels to Lakewood to take on Jefferson at Trailblazer Stadium. Both teams go into the game with 1-4 records.
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