Note: Summit Academy finished with a 10-2 overall record in 2018 and was first in 3A South with a 5-0 record. It beat North Sanpete 55-18 in the 3A championship.
BLUFFDALE — Summit Academy claimed its first state championship in school history last year after back-to-back semifinal heartaches, and in reaching the pinnacle a year ago, expectations have most definitely changed.
Les Hamilton doesn’t mind the added expectation, something he dealt with at Alta when he was a head coach during the program’s state titles in 2007 and 2008.
“We know we’ve got a big bullseye on our chest going into the year. Anytime that you’re the defending champs, there’s added press to your staff and the kids to go and do your very best, but we also want to make sure kids are having fun. They’ve worked hard all offseason knowing they have big shoes to fill. A lot of great players graduated last year. They’ve taken that challenge and have done a great job all offseason,” said Hamilton.
Embracing the challenge can help ease the pressure associated with it.
Summit Academy started the season a bit slow last year, which included a 35-24 loss to 3A foe Grantsville in Week 2. Sitting at 2-2 through Week 4, the Bears proceeded to win eight straight games en route to the title, including a 55-18 win over North Sanpete in the championship.
Summit Academy only returns a couple of defensive starters from a group that ranked third in 3A last season, and there is some real concern about the D-line.
Offensively Summit Academy ranked first in 3A last season, averaging 37.4 ppg, and despite having a new QB taking snaps, he should get great protection as four of the team’s offensive lineman from a year ago return.
Summit has a favorable early season schedule, which should help it build momentum heading into the difficult Region 13 schedule.
Summit Academy Bears at a glance
Coach: Les Hamilton is entering his fourth year as head coach at Summit Academy, finishing 28-6 in each of his first three seasons and earning a state title last year. He has 16 years of previous head coaching experience at Grantsville, Alta, Hunter and Pleasant Grove with a 132-61 career record. He won 5A state titles with Alta in 2007 and 2008. He’s a graduate of Petaluma High School in California.
Coach Hamilton comments on new UHSAA RPI:
“All I know is in our conference it’s going to be tough anyway, it’s going to be a week-to-week battle, so I don’t mind it. Last year Judge, who was our fourth-place team that hadn’t won a game, had to go to Juan Diego in the first-round playoffs and in a down year was forced to go play a playoff game and get demolished and that’s not good for a program either. To be honest, I don’t mind the RPI, I don’t think it makes that big of a difference. You’ve still got to do well in your conference and it’s hard to win a conference championship. I don’t know if it really makes a difference, to be honest with you.”
Summit Academy offensive snapshot
Offensive coordinator: Les Hamilton
2018 offensive production: 37.4 ppg (1st in 3A)
— 6 returning starters
— Spread offense
Key offensive returning starters
— Colin Dodge (WR)
Caught 42 passes for 706 yards last year and led Summit Academy with 11 receiving TDs.
— Isaac Rivas (OL)
Summit Academy’s starting left tackle last year, Isaac Rivas is one of the top linemen in 3A.
Returning offensive starters
Colin Dodge (WR)
JT Kupiec (WR/TE)
Conner Thomas (RT)
Tallon Peltch (G)
Carson Burke (C)
Isaac Rivas (LT)
Offensive newcomers to watch
Joe Garlick (QB)
Brock Rosemeyer (OL)
Masen Chinn (RB)
Gage Sessions (WR)
Coach Hamilton comments on QB Joe Garlick:
“This will be his third year in the program. He might have the best arm of anybody I’ve had since Ammon Olsen. He’s only going to be a junior, but his third year in the program, so he understands what we’re doing and is a great leader. We’re hoping to have great things from him for the next two years.”
Coach Hamilton comments on receivers JT Kupiec and Collin Dodge:
“We’re got JT Kupiec back at H back spot, he’s really a slot receiver for us, but at 6-foot-3, 225, he’s a nightmare matchup for kids. He spent all summer going to 7-on-7 tournaments and has gotten the attention of some big D1 schools. He’s a game changer and he’ll be a three-year starter. And then Collin Dodge is a returning all-state receiver on the outside, so we feel pretty good about our skill guys.”
Coach Hamilton comments on RB Masen Chinn:
“It’s his third year in the program and Masen’s a different kind of back. He’s shifty, he’s small, he’s elusive. He could surprise some people, especially with a more veteran offensive line in front of him. He’s a really, really athletic kid. I don’t expect our run game to skip a beat. Masen may be not the top end speed, but he’s more elusive, there’s no doubt about it.
Keys for offensive success in 2019:
Les Hamilton’s offensive system puts a great deal of pressure on quarterbacks, always has, going back to his coaching days at Alta. Last year’s QB rose to the required level and Summit Academy won a state title. A junior is taking over this year and getting consistent productivity from him — which includes minimizing turnovers — is critical to another successful season.
Summit Academy defensive snapshot
Defensive coordinator: Ken Denos
2018 defensive production: 17.8 ppg (3rd in 3A)
— 3 returning starters
— 3-4 defense
Key defensive returning starters
— Mitchell Ostler (LB)
Finished third on the team in tackles a year ago with 62 and will anchor the linebacking core again this year.
— Gage Sessions (FS)
Was a standout safety for the Bears last year, finishing with 32 tackles.
Returning defensive starters
Gage Sessions (FS)
Adri Jefferson (CB)
Mitchell Ostler (MLB)
Jackson Thorne (DL) — injured, no timetable on return
Defensive newcomers to watch
Quinton Madison (MLB) — coming back off ACL
Austin Hicks (OLB)
Porter Galvan (OLB)
Collin Dodge (S)
Sam Holmbo (DL)
Christian Smith (DL)
Coach Hamilton comments on linebacker Mitchell Ostler:
“He really is the anchor of our defense. He’s one of those no-nonsense leader-type guys. He’s not a big loud, hurrah guy, but he has that stalwart quiet leadership. He is the leader of that defense. In a 3-4 defense to have those big run stoppers inside, he’s that prototypical linebacker and I really do expect big things from him this year.”
Coach Hamilton comments on new faces on the defensive line:
“It’s hard to replace our nose guard Cameron Fisher, he was a big 300-pound nose guard that clogged the middle. We’re going to have new faces on the defensive line that are going to have to step up 'cause we lost all three starters from that defensive line.”
Keys for defensive success in 2019:
The strength defensively this season is at linebacker, which has the potential to be a really good group. The big question marks are on the defensive line with zero returning starters. The coaching staff is confident they have the players to plug those holes, but varsity football on Friday nights will be the real test. Hamilton said that with Summit Academy’s past-paced offense, the defense just needs to avoid giving up the big plays and be consistent. It will need good line play to make it happen.
Coaches preseason Region 13 straw poll: Fourth
Deseret News Region 13 prediction: Second
Key region game: at Morgan, Sept. 20 (Week 6)
Summit Academy played with a chip on its shoulder last season after losing in the semifinals the year before on a missed two-point conversion in double overtime. Redemption is a powerful motivator in football. Coming off a state championship last season, Summit Academy will need to find a new motivator to stay hungry knowing it will get everyone’s best shot. There are question marks in key positions for the Bears, but the coaching staff is confident in the replacements and optimistic about another great season.
Aug. 16 — at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.
Aug. 23 — at San Juan, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 — STAR VALLEY, IDAHO, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 — UNION, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 — PROVIDENCE HALL, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — at Morgan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — at Juan Diego, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 — GRANTSVILLE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 — JUDGE MEMORIAL, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 — SOUTH SUMMIT, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Summit Academy High School
All-time record: 51-27 (7 years)
Region championships: 2 (2016, 2018)
Playoff appearances: 7
Current playoff appearance streak: 5 (2014-2018)
All-time playoff record: 8-6
State championships: 1
State championship record: 1-1
- 2018 — 10-2 (5-0 in 3A South – 3A Champions)
- 2017 — 9-2 (4-1 in 3A South – 3A Semifinals)
- 2016 — 9-2 (5-0 in 2A North – 2A Semifinals)
- 2015 — 6-5 (3-2 in 2A North – 2A Quarterfinals)
- 2014 — 10-2 (5-1 in 2A North – 2A Runner-up)
Summit Academy coaching history
- 2016-current — Les Hamilton (28-6)
- 2012-2015 — Scott Gorringe (23-21)
Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years
- 2018 — Kasey Briggs, QB
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
- 2018 — Talmage Brown, RB
- 2018 — Parker Clawson, WR
- 2018 — Jacob Munger, OT
- 2018 — Cameron Fisher, DT
- 2018 — Carson Wheaton, LB
- 2018 — Mason Shafer, CB
- 2017 — Hunter Housel, S
- 2017 — Aaron Bailey, LB
- 2017 — Carson Wheaton, DE
- 2017 — Jesse Hooper, OL
- 2017 — Gavin Davey, WR
- 2017 — Hayden Reynolds, QB
- 2016 — Isaac Hamilton, QB
- 2016 — Jeb Denos, RB/DB
- 2016 — Baylor Harding, WR
- 2016 — James Walker, OL/DL
- 2015 — Justin Miller, QB
- 2015 — Darrin Gethers, WR
- 2014 — Hagan Hines, QB/LB
- 2014 — Steven Harp, RB/WR
- 2014 — Jake Dartchner, DE
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.