South Summit team pays tribute to player with spinal cord injury.
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Kamas • It was only a moment after South Summit scored its fourth touchdown of the day. Instead of lining up for the extra point, the Wildcats gathered at their own sideline. Then, every player and coach pointed to the 26-0 tally on the scoreboard.
As it dawned on the crowd that it was solemn tribute to injured teammate No. 26 Porter Hancock, cheers and applause rained down from the stands.
"I didn't know what we were even doing at first, but then I knew as soon as I looked," quarterback Matt Rydalch said. "It's funny how that number keeps popping up last week we won by 26. It reminds us that we're staying strong for Porter."
Although Hancock was miles away in a hospital bed recovering from a severe spinal cord injury, he was deeply rooted in the heart of the South Summit community that celebrated a 33-0 win over Grand in the first round of the Class 2A football playoffs Thursday afternoon. It wasn't a flawless day for the Wildcats, who struggled with turnovers, but they finished out cleanly to advance to a quarterfinal date with Beaver.
"I think everybody was a little anxious and wanted to do well," coach Jerry Parker said. "We lost our rhythm in the second quarter, but we did a good job stopping them and getting back on track."
South Summit's offense dominated, racking up almost 350 yards of offense, most of it on the ground, and Rydalch scored two rushing touchdowns. Running back Porter Santos also made an impact with big plays: The junior threw the only passing touchdown of the day, a 19-yard strike to Mckay DeGering, and returned a punt 60 yards for a score.
After taking an initial 13-0 lead, the Wildcats stumbled, giving up three turnovers in the second and third quarters. But by getting back to the run, the team recovered and sealed the game with 20 second-half points.
Grand quarterback Jacob Francis made the South Summit defense pay at times with his passing, but the Wildcats eventually adapted and roughed up the sophomore for three sacks and an interception. The Red Devils ended up barely surpassing the century mark in yardage.
"We worked on pass coverage all week, because Gunnison made us pay a little bit last week," Rydalch said. "I think we showed them a lot of different defenses and mixed it up pretty well."
The spirit of the day was one of rising to help Hancock. The school set up a silent auction in the gym, selling shirts, ski lift passes, game tickets, autographed helmets whatever they could get. Proceeds from selling cookies, bread and all other concessions went to Hancock's fund, set up through Zion's Bank.
Other schools have been quick to give: Grand donated $1,200 for the fund, while Emery, the team South Summit was playing when Hancock was injured, had reportedly raised $1,000. Wasatch and Park City were also expected to chip in following their game Thursday night. Athletic director Troy Coil estimated $60,000 had been raised for Hancock even prior to Thursday's fundraising activities.
Storylines South Summit 33, Grand 0
R South Summit romps against Grand 33-0 despite giving up three turnovers.
• Matt Rydalch and Porter Santos each score two touchdowns in the game.
• The Kamas community raises money for injured linebacker Porter Hancock's medical fund through a silent auction and through donations from other schools.