OGDEN — Kael Atkinson and Jared Dansie were among just a few of the returning starters for defending state champion South Summit this season, but they’re the type of cornerstone players any coach would be thrilled to build a team around.
Those seniors were the catalyst for South Summit’s offense all season, so it was only appropriate that they did the damage one more time in Saturday’s 2A championship at Weber State.
Atkinson tossed four touchdown passes, all to Dansie, as South Summit’s high-octane offense dominated Grand most of the afternoon on its way to the convincing 50-25 victory.
“It feels great to be back to where we were last year. We didn’t have as good a team as last year, but we all stepped it up, and I feel we were better than we were last year,” said Atkinson.
Grand’s offense had plenty of success as well, dominating time of possession and outgaining South Summit in yards 487 to 437, but a couple of early fumbles allowed the favored Wildcats to capitalize on short fields as the game got out of hand by halftime with South Summit leading 38-13.
“It takes us a while to see what they’re giving us, and then we try and take what the defense gives us, and the kids did awesome,” said South Summit coach Mike Grajek.
Atkinson finished the game completing 12 of 25 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 122 yards. Dansie accounted for 141 of those receiving yards.
Grand quarterback Bryant Troutt had a monster game on the ground in the loss as he rushed for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Troutt helped Grand get off to a great start as well in the upset bid.
Grand stopped South Summit on its first two possessions and then quickly scored on its second drive on a double-reverse, 51-yard flea flicker from Troutt to Stacy Randall for the early 7-0 lead.
It was the wake-up call South Summit needed as it scored on its next five possessions in building a 38-13 commanding halftime lead.
“I think it was just the nerves. We didn’t have a lot of returning starters, just two on offense. Once we got the nerves out we got going,” said Atkinson.
South Summit finally got on the board at the 2:42 mark of the first quarter as Dansie hauled in a 22-yard TD pass from Atkinson, with Dansie’s resulting two-point conversion running giving the Wildcats the 8-7 lead.
Atkinson’s 17-yard run on a fourth-and-7 was the key play of the drive, the type of stop underdog Grand needed.
Things went from bad to worse quickly for the Red Devils. First, they mishandled the ensuing kickoff with the ball going out of bounds at the 1-yard line. Running back Brady Arbon took a hit to the helmet on second down from the 2-yard line and had to be carted off the field.
After the lengthy delay, Grand fumbled the ball on third down with South Summit scoring two plays later on an Atkinson five-yard run for the 16-7 lead.
Grand didn’t panic despite the misfortune. It methodically marched 78 yards in 16 plays, a drive that chewed away 8:53 off the clock with Troutt scoring on a 3-yard run to whittle the deficit to 16-13 with 4:02 left in the half.
Four minutes, however, was more than enough time for South Summit to find the end zone multiple times.
Atkinson raced 57 yards around the edge on a fourth-and-1, stretching the lead to 22-13. When Grand promptly fumbled on the first play of its ensuing possession, two plays later Dansie danced into the end zone again on a 20-yard pass from Atkinson for the 30-13 advantage.
After getting one more defensive stop with 1:05 remaining in the half, Atkinson connected with Dansie for the third time in the half, this time on a 28-yard pass for the dagger just before halftime.
“It’s unbelievable. He likes that target. Usually guys are looking to shut down, and for him to score four touchdowns today, that’s great,” said Grajek.
In the third quarter, Dansie snagged a 65-yard TD pass from Atkinson, and then Landon Nuneviller pushed the lead to 50-13 on a 78-yard interception return.