San Juan (9-1) vs. South Summit (9-1)
2A state tournament semifinals
Thursday, 1:30 p.m. (At Weber State)
Parry’s Power Guide: San Juan by 1
All-time series: San Juan leads 7-4
Coach vs. coach: South Summit’s Mike Grajek leads San Juan’s Monty Lee, 1-0
Last meeting: Aug. 19, 2016 (Week 1) – South Summit 35-26, at South Summit
OGDEN — If there is one thing that the denizens of Blanding and Kamas can count on come autumn it is a high school football playoff showdown between South Summit and San Juan High Schools. After all, the Wildcats and Broncos have faced off in four of the past five postseasons, not to mention regular season contests in each of the past two years.
The familiarity bred by such frequent competition has created an odd rivalry, made all the more strange by the 309 miles that separate the schools. A rivalry it is though.
“Even after the first game of the year (South Summit defeated San Juan 35-26 in the season opener) we knew we were going to see them again,” South Summit head coach Mike Grajek said. “We just had a feeling, and have kind of had it in our minds the whole season, that we would see (the Broncos) again, either in the semis or the finals.”
“They are a great team,” San Juan head coach Monty Lee said of the Wildcats. “They are one of the best teams in 2A. They are schooled and run the ball very well. It is going to be a battle. This was our goal heading into the season though. This is where we wanted to be.”
Neither Grajek nor Lee expects the regular season contest to have much bearing on who will come out on top Thursday afternoon at Weber State University.
“I think you are dealing with two teams that were trying to find themselves at the beginning of the season. I don’t think you can take much as far as information or strategy,” Lee said. “In 2A football teams have to adapt as far as the personnel (that they have). Things change a great deal. Some years you pass and some years you run. Sometimes you are strong in the middle, and sometimes you are strong outside. If you live in the past then that is where you are going to die.”
Grajek was no less adamant when discussing the changes his team has made over the course of the season. “We only returned one defensive player from last year’s team, so we were really young in that (opener). We feel like we have gotten a lot better. I told the kids that all the hard work they have done, they will be able to see how that pays off.”
The Wildcats have been paced all season by an excellent passing attack, thanks in large part to quarterback Nick Beasley. The junior, who has thrown for over 30 touchdowns and almost 2,000 yards this season, missed the quarterfinal game against Enterprise due to a suspension but is eligible for the semifinals.
“He’s going to have a good game,” Lee said of the opposing quarterback. “You aren’t going to stop someone as good as him. We just have to try to slow him down.”
“It’s big,” Grajek said of Beasley’s return. “That being said while the position of quarterback in our system gets a lot of attention we have a lot of weapons that our opponents have to watch out for. We feel like there isn’t one guy you can key on.”
On the other sideline, San Juan will look to quarterback Jordan Blake, as well as running back Kavika Su’esu’e to lead the charge.
“Su’esu’e is one of the best backs in the state, not just 2A,” Grajek said of the San Juan back. “Coach Lee has been on the record as saying this is one of the best teams he has ever coached, and they have a great program. It’s going to be a battle.”
For all that goes into a football game both coaches were in agreement that the contest, and a spot in the 2A title game, will come down to one thing, whoever executes their game plan will win.
“I told them all year that the only team that stands between us and a state championship is ourselves,” Grajek said. “The key is to play together and do the things that we practice.”
Lee echoed those sentiments when he said, “If we play our game then we are going to win. We’ve had a successful season, and how many teams would kill to be where we are right now? But we aren’t finished yet.”
San Juan statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 35.1 ppg (4th in 2A)
Scoring defense: 10.4 ppg (1st in 2A)
Passing leader: Jordan Blake (96-189, 50.8%, 1,449 yards, 15 TDs, 5 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Kavika Su’esu’e (91 carries, 590 yards, 10 TDs), Jordan Blake (68 carries, 380 yards, 7 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Jaxon Lee (35 rec., 566 yards, 9 TDs), Baylor Eldredge (20 rec., 281 yards, 2 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Dylan Ivins (77 tackles), Kavika Su’esu’e (70 tackles)
Sack leaders: Connor Palmer (4 sacks)
Interception leaders: Jordan Blake (7 INTs)
Note: Individual stats does not include Week 11
South Summit statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 44.3 ppg (2nd in 2A)
Scoring defense: 18.0 ppg (3rd in 2A)
Passing leader: Nick Beasley (128-215, 59.5%, 1,935 yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Riley Bayles (53 carries, 350 yards, 3 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Parker Grajek (50 rec., 784 yards, 11 TDs), Keagan Stracher (45 rec., 642 yards, 8 TDs), Brandon Dansie (30 rec., 527 yards, 12 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Jaxson Sargent (53 tackles), Broughton Flygare (38 tackles)
Sack leaders: Broughton Flygare, Alex Johnson (8 sacks)
Interception leaders: Brandon Dansie (3 INTs)
Note: Individual stats does not include Week 9 & 11
Felt’s Facts for South Summit High School
All-time record: 371-330-8 (79 years)
Region championships: 10 (1925, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 2000, 2009 co, 2013 co, 2014, 2015)
Playoff appearances: 40
Current playoff appearance streak: 8 (2009-2016)
All-time playoff record: 50-33
State championships: 6 (1977, 1978, 1984, 1988, 2013, 2014)
State championship record: 6-8
Most played rivalry: 87 meetings with North Summit dating back to 1942. North Summit leads 46-37-4.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Wildcat Blake Marchant set a state record for blocked kicks in a game — three — when he blocked two punts and a PAT to help the Wildcats win the 1977 Class 1A championship over Beaver. Curtis McEntire established another state record by booting 17 field goals during the 1999 season.
Felt’s Facts for San Juan High School
All-time record: 409-220-4 (61 years)
Region championships: 18 (1958, 1960, 1992 co, 1993, 1994 co, 1995 co, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004 co, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016).
Playoff appearances: 42
Current playoff appearance streak: 40 (1977-2016)
All-time playoff record: 58-35
State championships: 6 (1989, 1998, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010)
State championship record: 6-7
Most played rivalry: 71 meetings with Grand dating back to 1956. San Juan leads 43-28.
Felt’s Factoid(s): San Juan has the biggest championship game comeback: Down 20-0 after the first quarter, the Broncos scored 36 straight to win the 1998 Class 2A title, 36-26. ... San Juan scored in 160 straight games from 1999 to 2012, the second-longest streak in Utah prep history. ... Bronco Jens Wilson returned five kickoffs for TDs (2005) to set a state record (tied with Morgan’s Jordan Wamsley). … Coach Monty Lee has the best winning percentage, .786, among active coaches. He’s .818 at San Juan, the best mark among coaches at their current school. … San Juan has advanced to the state tournament a record 39 consecutive years, every season since 1977. (Delta also made the playoffs 38 straight years from 1975-2012).