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2A high school football preview: Differing styles clash in 2A championship

A year ago when Beaver beat South Summit in the 2A championship, it was a clash of teams with similar offensive philosophies — running the football.

When they meet again this Saturday at Southern Utah in a 2A title game rematch, the philosophies couldn’t be more different.

While Beaver’s Wing-T offense is basically unchanged from a year ago under first-year head coach Randy Hunter, South Summit has gone through an offensive evolution under fellow first-year coach Mike Grajek.

In shifting from a Flex Bone to a Spread offense this season, South Summit has evolved from a team whose offensive production was based 23 percent on the pass in 2015 to 62 percent in 2016.

It was a concerted effort by Grajek to get the Wildcats to this point.

“We wanted to be able to throw and catch when we need to it, and it’s kind of evolved from that. We throw and catch when we want,” he said.

In last week’s convincing 38-21 semifinal victory over San Juan, the Wildcats passed for 354 yards while also rushing for over 200 yards. For the season, quarterback Nick Beasley has passed for 3,555 yards and 33 touchdowns this season

“They’re a little bit different than they were last year. They’re wide open. They like to throw it around quite a bit,” said Hunter. “They do a lot of really good things. They cause match-up problems with teams and we’re trying to work on that.”

Beaver heads into Saturday’s championship with the top scoring defense in 2A allowing just 11.5 ppg, and most of that dominance came against running teams.

Beaver got its first real test against a Spread offensive team last week in the semifinals against Summit Academy, and after some halftime adjustments it was terrific in pulling away for the 35-14 victory.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see which team dictates the pace of the game, you have two different styles,” said Hunter.

Offensively, Beaver leans on the running of quarterback Jordan Hardy and fullback Dillon Smith, both of who have rushed for over 1,000 yards this season.

Beaver’s passing game, however, isn’t nearly as effective as last season — which was the difference in the title game win over South Summit.

South Summit would love to get out to an early lead and force Beaver to pass its way back into the game, but that’s easier said than done.

“They’re very, very well coached. They don’t make very many mistakes offensive and defensively. They don’t really have a weak spot on the field,” said Grajek.

Felt's Facts

Beaver (10-1) vs. South Summit (10-1)

Series history: South Summit leads 12-9.

Last meeting: Beaver silenced South Summit 33-0 in the 2015 title game.

Coach vs. coach: first meeting between Beaver’s Randy Hunter and South Summit’s Mike Grajek.

Current winning streaks: Beaver – 6, South Summit – 4.

Beaver Quick Facts

Beaver began its gridiron program in 1925 and played 11-man football through 1933. After a five-year break, the Beavers took up 6-man football from 1939-1948. They resumed the 11-man version in 1949; 77th season of 11-man.

Finals record: 10-9. Last championship: 2015. Playoff record (11-man): 64-39 (.621), 50th appearance.

Championship game history:

1969, lost to Monticello 7-6 (Class B)

1970, defeated Monticello 22-0 (B)

1971, defeated Monticello 22-7 (B)

1972, lost to North Summit 16-0 (1A)

1973, defeated South Summit 30-0 (1A)

1975, defeated North Summit 12-6 in double-overtime (1A)

1976, lost to Kanab 27-7 (1A)

1977, lost to South Summit 16-6 (1A)

1979, defeated South Summit 24-9 (1A)

1980, defeated Park City 19-7 (1A)

1981, defeated Kanab 7-3 (1A)

1982, lost to Kanab 7-3 (1A)

1983, defeated Kanab 31-20 (1A)

1985, lost to Kanab 42-0 (1A)

1986, lost to Kanab 14-0 (1A)

1987, lost to Kanab 23-0 (1A)

1990, defeated Park City 12-7 (2A)

1992, lost to Grantsville 12-7 (2A)

2015, defeated South Summit 33-0 (2A)

Coach: Randy Hunter is 10-1 in his first season at Beaver and 52-42 (.553) in nine seasons overall, including 32-13 at Enterprise (2000-03) and 10-28 at Canyon View (2004-07).

Playoff record: 2-0 at Beaver and 7-3 overall, including 5-3 at Enterprise; fifth appearance.

Championship game record: 1-1 (at Enterprise, won in 2003 after losing in 2002).

South Summit Quick Facts

The Wildcats played football from 1913-16, then dropped the sport until 1942; 79th season.

Finals record: 6-8 (.429). Last championship: 2014. Playoff record: 51-33 (.607), 40th appearance.

Championship game history:

1973, lost to Beaver 30-0 (Class 1A)

1977, defeated Beaver 16-6 (1A)

1978, defeated North Summit 14-0 (1A)

1979, lost to Beaver 24-9 (1A)

1984, defeated Kanab 13-95 (1A)

1988, defeated Kanab 35-13 (1A)

1998, lost to San Juan 36-26 (2A)

1999, lost to Manti 34-15 (2A)

2000, lost to San Juan 20-14 (2A)

2009, lost to San Juan 7-0 (2A)

2010, lost to San Juan 19-6 (2A)

2013, defeated Grand 42-8 (2A)

2014, defeated Summit Academy 28-6 (2A)

2016, lost to Beaver 33-0 (2A)

Coach: Mike Grajek is 10-1 in his first season at South Summit and 37-14 in five seasons overall, including a 7-3 record at Milford (1993) and a 20-10 mark at Morgan (1994-96).

Playoff record: 2-0 at South Summit and 4-2 overall, including 2-0 at Milford and 2-2 at Morgan; fourth appearance.

Championship game record: 1-1 (won with Milford in 1993, but lost with Morgan in 1996).

Extra Point 1: Beaver makes its 20th championship game appearance, the second most in state history (behind Millard’s 21 and tied with Skyline’s 20).

Extra Point 2: Beaver has posted back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since 1979-80.

Extra Point 3: Beaver has the distinction of playing – and winning – the first-ever overtime game in Utah, in 1973, when the Beavers defeated Milford 6-0.

Extra Point 4: Since 2013, South Summit has compiled a 43-4 record, the best four-year record in Wildcat history.

Extra Point 5: This game marks the 15th time that teams have met at least two consecutive years in the championship game.

Extra Point 6: Only two pairs of teams have met more in a championship game: Beaver and Kanab have met seven times, Duchesne and Rich, six.

Extra Point 7: The 2A state championship is the 711th game for both Beaver and South Summit. It’s taken Beaver 77 seasons to reach that mark, while South Summit required 79.

Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: