It’s been quite the progression for Summit football since coach Brian Coleman took over in 2014.
The Spartans launched football in 2011. That inaugural season resulted in a predictable 0-10 mark, followed by 3-7 and 1-9 records.
Summit hired Coleman from Forest High for 2014, then, the Spartans went 0-10 in Coleman’s first year. The Spartans have since posted 5-7 and 7-5 marks.
Now, Summit looks to take the next step: winning Region 5-5A.
Coleman says there will be challenges again this year.
“We have a veteran offensive line and defensive line coming back,” Coleman said, following a 16-7 scrimmage loss to Ravenwood in the Williamson County Jamboree last week. “We’ve got to break in some new skill guys.
“Other than Tai Carter coming back, we have a few skill guys who are going to have to learn how to hit the holes. They don’t have much game-time experience or blocking experience, so games like this really help them out a lot.”
Summit’s Carter looks to carry the offense
The Spartans will likely go as far as Carter, a star running back who ran for 1,376 yards and 17 scores in 2016, can take them. Coleman looks to find the maximum amount of touches for the senior without tiring him out or putting him at risk of injury.
“It’s going to be up to us as a coaching staff not to overuse him, not get him beat up,” Coleman says. “He’s a weapon for us, definitely.”
Depth behind Carter comes from senior running backs Payton Craig and Quinn Slaughenhoupt and sophomore George Odimegwu.
Sophomore quarterback Ethan Cash is another key to the Spartans’ wing-T, run-first offense.
“I know we’re going to have growing pains with him, but he’s going to have to step up really fast and protect the football and not throw it to the other team, and run our offense effectively. The faster he matures, the better off we’ll be,” Coleman said.
When the Spartans throw, receiver Jatevion Hayes figures to be the top target.
Five seniors—Kody Davis, Nick Johnson, Trevor Kuehl, Mason Leatherwood and Justin Woosley—anchor the offensive line.
Defense strives for more consistency
The Spartan defense ran hot and cold last year.
Five times, the Spartans gave up seven points or fewer, including a shutout of Franklin County.
But in four of the other five, Summit gave up 25 or more, including 35 to Cane Ridge in a season-ending, first-round playoff loss.
Carter, a cornerback on that side of the ball, is a big factor there also. His Division I offers are from Texas-San Antonio and Toledo; Coleman believes he’s got a chance to earn more with good performances against Division I-caliber receivers in Spring Hill’s Justin Oden (Week 1) and Independence’s T.J. Sheffield and Kendrell Scurry (Week 2).
Coleman is concerned with the rest of the secondary, which replaces a number of starters from 2016. Juniors Chandler Alexander and Jacob Douglas will need to elevate their play here.
Summit runs a 3-4 with an undersized defensive line led by seniors Chance Jarosz and juniors Brayden Stem and Zack Claus.
Linebackers Robert Holmes and Nick Johnson are co-captains, and returning starters at middle linebacker.
Carter is a legitimate star, and Coleman likes his line of scrimmage play despite the size issues. Coleman’s concerns are whether the Spartans have enough skill players besides Carter, and whether they can get enough leadership from a sophomore quarterback.
There were also some things in the scrimmage that he didn’t like.
“We’ve got to clean a lot of things up, the penalties and things of that nature,” Coleman said. “We’ve got a lot of motions in our offense, when to go in motion, stuff like that. Tackling is a bit of an issue; all that type stuff that’s early in the season.”
Health to Carter, and productivity from Cash may be the two biggest keys. Otherwise, the Spartans’ veteran presence everywhere else gives Summit a chance at its best season yet.