Summit hopes returning 21 starters leads to first playoff game

Summit hopes returning 21 starters leads to first playoff game

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Summit hopes returning 21 starters leads to first playoff game

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Summit football players aren’t very specific in regard to expectations for the upcoming season.

“We play the season for a reason,” Spartan senior running back/outside linebacker Christian Snyder said. “One of the main goals is just working hard and getting as many wins as we can, whether that’s 10 or two. I don’t think it’s going to be two.”

Summit third-year coach Brian Coleman can attest to the hard work, pointing out that was what made the difference from the winless 2014 campaign and last year’s 4-6 season.

Brian Coleman

Brian Coleman

“They really committed in the offseason,” Coleman said. “They decided in December they were not going to be 0-10 again. That made the difference. It’s because of the kids. They work hard, and our coaches are on them constantly.

“It’s that (type of work ethic) if not better (now). We have 12 seniors. They’ve really carried the torch. They’ve been leading us throughout.”

Those Spartan seniors point out that they had their fill of losing as sophomores.

“It was our attitude on the field,” Summit senior outside linebacker Jake Geasley said. “When a negative play would happen, we would just come out and fight. We just got tired of losing and want to fight the entire game.”

Snyder added, “It’s not like we were dogging it our sophomore year. Then, last year, it started to click. We started understanding what it takes to be successful. We play together. All we want to do is win. We’re excited.”

While 12 seniors isn’t a large number, 21 is more impressive. That’s the number of returning starters, including the Spartans’ entire defensive unit.

Among those returnees are senior quarterback Michael Zakrzewski and the team’s top three rushers — junior Tai Carter, senior Tyler Palmer and Snyder.

Tai Carter

Tai Carter

“It’s definitely encouraging,” Geasley said. “We have confidence in each other. We’ve worked hard this offseason. We’re just trusting our coaches and trusting each other.”

The wealth of experience has made the preseason run considerably smoother.

“Installation has been a cinch,” said Coleman, who coached for one season at Forrest. “It’s been more of a review. It enables us to add on a whole lot more. The other stuff, we brushed up on it in the spring.”

Summit was one win away from earning a playoff berth last season, finishing one game behind four teams who were in a 4-3 logjam for second place in 5-5A. That leaves the program expecting a playoff berth this fall.

“With all this experience, we expect a better record,” Coleman said. “At 4-6, we were one game away from it last year.”

Region 5-5A preview: State champ Independence looks to repeat

The Spartan program has won just eight games over its first five seasons.

“We gained so much experience, and just from the summer alone, we are doing so well,” Snyder said. “We’re not satisfied, but we’re on track to be successful.”

Reach Craig Harris at 615-259-8238 and on Twitter @CHTennessean. 

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