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High school football: North Summit Braves 2016 preview

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Note: North Summit finished with a 7-4 overall record in 2015 and was second in 2A North with a 4-1 record. It lost to Beaver 14-6 in the 2A semifinals.

North Summit 2015 offensive and defensive stats

COALVILLE — The North Summit Braves and their head coach Devin Smith, fresh off a 2A semifinal exit in 2015, have one question for running back Tristan Woolstenhulme: Can he build on last season’s success and have an even more dominant year in 2016?

Last year, Woolstenhulme was the crown jewel of the Braves’ triple-option offense, carrying the ball 163 times for 1,224 yards — averaging 7.51 yards per carry — and 10 touchdowns.

North Summit also has another rushing weapon in senior Rand Pentz. In 2015, Pentz — a two-time state champion wrestler — had the second most rushing yards on the team with 746, and he also contributed nine touchdowns.

“I think with a lot of the attention on Tristan, Rand has a chance to have a really good year,” Smith said.

Smith said that while Woolstenhulme is the main focal point of the offense, it takes 11 to play the game.

“Tristan is extremely important to what we’re going to do. He’s a special kid, and it’s been fun to be able to coach him,” Smith said. “He’d be the first one to tell you that he’s not the only guy, it’s 10 other guys too.”

One of those other 10 guys on offense is quarterback Braxten Northrup. While the Braves’ offense relies heavily on the run game, Northrup still plays a big part in the offense. Last season, Northrup threw for 601 yards, five touchdowns, and threw just one interception. Northrup also rushed for 239 yards and seven touchdowns.

“[Braxten] has got quite a bit of knowledge inside and he’s got a whole bunch of potential,” senior wide receiver, cornerback and kicker Gonzalo Portillo said.

To succeed in a triple-option offense, a dominant offensive line is a must. But the Braves are breaking in a number of young linemen this year.

“We’ve got to get our offensive linemen some experience,” Smith said. “We want to get those kids as many repetitions as we can, so we get ready for league play they feel conformable with what their jobs are and what their responsibilities are.”

This season, North Summit returns seven of its 11 defensive returning starters, giving the Braves a defense that only gave up 11.5 points per game in 2015, an experienced defense that’s hungry for more.

“They [returning starters] have an understanding of the faster speed of the varsity game and preparation. That experience is invaluable,” Smith said. “For the younger kids who need to step up, they have examples of what that looks like. I think leadership is irreplaceable.”

This offseason, North Summit graduated three of its four best defensive players — twins Mason and Braden Richins and Carter Wardrop — but the Braves are still in good shape defensively.

“We’re fast. We have a lot of guys that can run. We have a lot of experience — seven returning starters on defense,” Smith said. “We’re not the biggest, but we’re tough and we’re fast.”

Smith’s top returning defensive contributors include linebackers Woolstenhulme, Pentz, Logan Rex and Cole Peterson, defensive lineman Tyler Coleman and Cache Larsen, and defensive back Portillo. Last year, Rex, Woolstenhulme and Pentz combined to make 180 tackles for the Braves' defense. In 2015, North Summit only recorded seven sacks — a tally that needs to rise this season.

Last year, the Braves finished the regular season with a 6-3 record, good enough for a first round bye in the 2A playoffs. In the quarterfinals, North Summit beat Grand High School by two touchdowns, advancing to the semifinals for the second time in three years. In the semis, the Braves lost a close 14-6 contest to Beaver High School to end their season.

“Playing in the semifinals was really fun, it gave us experience to know what to expect,” Portillo said. “Although we did lose, we still learned quite a bit. We learned that even though we’re there, we still have to fight for it.”

The quest for their first state championship since 2008 drives the Braves.

“For me, it’s the state ring. It’s been a passion my whole life,” Portillo said. “I’ve been always wanting to grab a ring and just show it off to everyone, so that ring keeps me motivated to work hard and just be the best player I can be.”

Smith says the state championship is always the ultimate goal.

“Obviously, we want to be competitive in our division first, and then hopefully as the season progresses, be competitive in the 2A playoffs,” Smith said.

North Summit Braves at a glance

Coach: Devin Smith is entering his sixth season at his alma mater. In his six years at the helm, Smith has an overall record of 31-23.

Offense: (5 returning starters; triple-option offense)

Offensive coordinator: Devin Smith

Returning offensive starters

Tristan Woolstenhulme (RB)

Rand Pentz (RB)

Tyler Coleman (OL)

Cache Larsen (OL)

Gonzalo Portillo (WR, K)

Defense: (7 returning starters, 4-4 defense)

Returning defensive starters

Tristan Woolstenhulme (LB)

Rand Pentz (LB)

Tyler Coleman (DL)

Logan Rex (LB)

Cache Larsen (DL)

Cole Peterson (LB)

Golzalo Portillo (DB)

Coaches’ preseason 2A North straw poll: Third

Deseret News 2A North prediction: Second

Bottom line: Even though the Braves graduated three of their four defensive starters, Devin Smith’s defense is stocked with experienced, talented, fast players. On the offensive side of the ball, North Summit’s defense boils down to Tristan Woolstenhulme and Rand Pentz being able to have another good year running the football. One big question mark for the Braves is in the trenches. After enjoying the luxury of a strong line in 2015, Smith must get his young line ready to do battle by the time Aug. 19 rolls around. After a semifinal exit last year, North Summit is ready to compete for a 2A state title ring this fall.

Last 5

2015 — 7-4 (4-1 in 2A North — 2A semifinals)

2014 — 8-3 (4-2 in 2A North — 2A quarterfinals)

2013 — 8-3 (5-1 in 2A North — 2A semifinals)

2012 — 2-8 (2-5 in 2A North — Missed playoffs)

2011 — 6-5 (4-3 in 2A North — 2A quarterfinals)

North Summit coaching history

2011-current — Devin Smith (31-23)

2000-2010 — Jerre Holmes (74-53)

1999 — Steve Carlsen (1-8)

1995-1998 — Earl Blonquist (13-27)

1994 — Travis Crittenden (3-6)

1993 — Van Hutchinson (8-3)

1987-1992 — Rick Harrison (48-20)

1985-1986 — Earl Blonquist (5-15)

1983-1984 — Bill Brown (10-11)

1982 — Scott Summers (2-7)

1969-1981 — Earl Blonquist (99-44-3)

1962-1968 — Ernest Jacklin (37-26-5)

1958-1961 — Raynor Pearce (12-18)

1957 — Bob Sanchez (5-2-1)

1953-1956 — Benny Kilpack (20-13-3)

1952 — Ken Bearden (1-6)

1951 — unknown (1-6)

1950 — Don Snow (1-5-2)

1949 — Ralph Olsen (1-7)

1948 — Floyd Biddolph (0-6)

1946-1947 — unknown (5-6-1)

1945 — Ed Jensen (5-3)

1931-1947 — unknown (41-49)

1930 — “Silky” Knudsen (4-2-1)

1926-1929 — unknown (13-14-2)

Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years

2008 — Deven Holmes, QB

2007 — Dallin Donaldson, RB/DB

Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years

2015 — Tristan Woolstenhulme, RB/LB

2015 — Carter Wardrop, TE/DL

2015 — Braden Richins, OL/DL

2015 — Mason Richins, OL/DL

2014 — Ryan McMichael, QB/DB

2014 — Carson Richins, RB/DB

2014 — Cason DeForest, WR/DE

2013 — Ryan McMichael, QB/DB

2013 — Josh Birk, RB/DB

2013 — Trevor Hale, RB/LB

2013 — Austin Simister, OL/DL

2012 — Ben Stephsn, RB/DB

2011 — Braden Brown, RB/DB

2010 — Courtney Orgill, RB/LB

2008 — Caden Richins, TE/DE

2008 — Colby Richins, RB/DE

2008 — Wyatt Richins, OL/DL

2008 — Stevin Sommerville, RB/LB

2008 — Bryer Trussell, WR/DB

2007 — Caleb Adams, FB/DL

2007 — Deven Holmes, QB

2007 — Colby Richins, LB

2007 — Drew Robinson, TE/DE

2007 — Chandler Woolstenhulme, LB/OT

2006 — Dallin Donaldson, RB/DB

2006 — Kamren Garfield, QB/DB

2006 — Nathaniel Richins, RB/DB

To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.