By SAM McGAW
Beech (12-0) at Summit (10-2), 7 p.m.
Prior to this season, the Summit Spartans never had a playoff win. Now, they’re two victories away from reaching the Class 5A state championship.
They aim to secure a trip to the semifinals Friday when they host the undefeated Beech Buccaneers.
“Turnovers are going to be a big key in this game,” Summit head coach Brian Coleman said. “We’re going to have to limit their big plays and make them earn it. In the playoffs, it all comes down to special teams and turnovers.”
Despite losing their top weapon in running back Tai Carter in Week 10, the Spartans’ offense hasn’t missed a beat. The unit has averaged 35.7 points per game over the last three weeks. This season, it’s averaged 37.8 PPG.
A major factor in their success has been the play of running backs George Odimegwu and Payton Craig. The duo has combined for 957 total yards and 13 touchdowns over the last three games.
Odimegwu has 1,280 rushing yards, 192 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns this season, while Craig has rushed for 1,029 yards and 10 scores. Carter had 1,224 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns (2 pass) before his season-ending knee injury.
“Tai is a huge part of our football team, and for those guys to rally is an awesome thing to see,” Coleman stated.
Beech features a stingy defense that’s allowing an average of 11 points per game.
“All four of their linebackers are really good,” Coleman stated. “The three defensive linemen are very big and will be hard to move.”
The Buccaneers’ offense is spearheaded by running back Kaemon Dunlap.
The senior has rushed for 1,964 yards and 24 touchdowns.
“He runs so low to the ground and then his effort level is really high,” Coleman said. “He’s going to lean forward or jump forward every single run. He really runs hard.”