Coach Brian Coleman led Summit to a 10-3 overall record in 2017, which included playoff wins over Hillwood and Page. Now, the Spartans try to repeat as Region 5-5A champs after going 6-0 in the region last season.
Here’s a look at Summit heading into 2018.
Spartans pin offensive hopes on Odimegwu
Running back George Odimegwu, Summit’s best, healthy offensive player from the end of last year, should have a big season. But he’ll need help in two ways.
First, Coleman wasn’t pleased with the Spartans’ offensive line in last week’s scrimmage with Blackman. He considers that the biggest concern heading into 2018.
“George is working hard,” Coleman said. “He’s trying hard. We’re doing a little too much watching. We’re watching George a little too much, and we need to fight for him a whole lot more.”
Odimegwu is a dynamic player who runs hard, but he weighs 180 pounds. That, and the fact that he’ll be Summit’s workhorse, presents a potential problem in a run-oriented, wing-T offense. Last year’s star runner, Tai Carter, who’s approximately the same size, wasn’t around at season’s end due to a knee injury.
The Spartans need Odimegwu around and fresh for the playoffs. It’s why Coleman always has others ready to carry the load.
“We need to develop some people so that’ll give George a break,” he said.
Two-way player Christian Jolley should get plenty of touches. Another candidate is Hunter Hudson, who ran well at times against Blackman and had the team’s second-most carries, behind Odimegwu, in the scrimmage.
“[Hudson’s] working really hard, a good, quality backup for us,” Coleman said.
Two-way lineman Zack Claus returns to lead the offensive line.
Can the defense win a championship?
Blackman pushed around the smaller Spartans last week. For the most part, one can throw that game out The Blaze are one of the area’s most talented teams, and play in a bigger classification.
And Summit’s defense was good more often than not last season. The Spartans posted two shutouts, and gave up more than 21 points just three times.
Coleman makes no bones as to which side is expected to lead the way.
“They’re going to have to keep us in ballgames until we can get it right on offense,” he said.
The good news is, there’s plenty of experience returning. Claus, defensive lineman Brayden Stem and Kiston Arnold, and linebacker Jonathon Myers return to lead the front seven.
Still, the Blackman game did present some concerns. Week 1 opponent Spring Hill is also blessed with size, Coleman said, and the Spartans have just days to get better.
“Defensively, I hope we can do a little bit better tackling,” he said. “That should be our strength.”