Wade

As those who know Summit's football team well can attest, where there's a will, there's a Wade. 

The Summit Spartans have greatly enjoyed the presence of breakout sophomore quarterback Destin Wade this season, perhaps nevermore than Friday night. 

Wade (101 passing, 1 TD; 88 rushing, 2 TDs) rushed for two short-yet-tough touchdowns and threw for another to help the Spartans score 20 unanswered points to avenge an early season loss to the hosting Shelbyville Central Golden Eagles Friday night. 

The 20-12 victory sets Summit up at home next Friday night against Dyer County for a chance at the state game. It's the football team's first semifinals berth in its nine-season history. 

Wade was not quite himself the last time Summit came to Shelbyville, a lopsided 42-25 loss for the Spartans. He was just getting back into playing after suffering an injury a few weeks prior. 

"You've just got to be patient and wait your time," Wade said of what he learned while nursing his high ankle sprain back to health. "Execute when it's your time, and you're great." 

And great he was when it mattered the most. 

The Spartans found themselves on a muddy Shelbyville Central field with rain tempting to start up at any minute. The Golden Eagles fans packed the stadium, as did Summit, but a few flashy special teams plays and general energy nearly put the Spartans in an unsolvable puzzle. 

Shelbyville Central QB Kade Cunningham found Myson Day for an early touchdown strike, but a missed XP kept it 6-0. 

A quick Summit three-and-out and an electric return put the Golden Eagles in scoring position, and they capitalized quickly. About three minutes later, Mason Wright rushed in a 10-yard score to get the team another touchdown.

Kicking issues hurt Shelbyville early, and another missed extra kick made it 12-0. 

Well, kicking issues feels a bit disingenuous, because the team executed a perfect onside kick just after that sent the SCHS crowd and sideline into a frenzy. 

The team drove down soon after that play and looked poised to score again, which could've been backbreaking for the Spartans in their program's first-ever quarterfinals bout. 

But this time, the Summit defense did not let the Golden Eagles pass. The team stood its ground deep into the red zone and wound up stopping Shelbyville Central flat in its tracks. 

This would be the Golden Eagles' last chance to really do a ton on offense, with the Spartans grabbing a lightning bolt of momentum on defense after the gutsy stand and holding them scoreless for the remainder of the game.

"The defense was just resilient and just fought, and fought, and fought, until our offense could finally get going," Summit head coach Brian Coleman said. 

The second quarter was a bit more back and forth while the Spartans offense heated up. The ground-and-pound attack that has served them well throughout the year came in handy late in the second, when a sustained drive got Wade into the end zone once. 

A missed XP for Summit made it 12-6. Wade said he feels this was the breaking point to get the Spartans to play to their potential.

"That gave us a lot of momentum," he said. "Our defense stopped them, and we just kept on rolling from there." 

Indeed, they quickly got the ball back and began driving as seconds ticked to half. 

With three seconds on the clock and the ball on the four yard line, Summit bet on its quarterback on a hard rush and got the game-tying TD. A good kick gave them the 13-12 halftime advantage. 

The second half would be a lot of clock management and defensive stops for Summit, with a mid-third quarter drive capped in a Wade scramble strike to senior wideout George Odimegwu the game-icing score for the Spartans. 

The fourth saw the Golden Eagles trying their best to get back in the game, but Summit came down with two major fourth down stops to seal the deal. 

One came after the Spartans made what could've been a dangerous error on a muffed punt in the fourth when the Golden Eagles made it down to within 10 of the end zone. Summit's defense never relented all night. 

A late pick from Caleb Jolley and more runs to wipe out the clock were the stamps of approval Summit needed to confirm its very first quarterfinals win in school history. 

"It means everything," Jolley said of the history-making victory, adding he knew right then and there on his big interception the team had won it. "This is the first time in school history, and it's just amazing." 

"It means a lot," Wade said to have a milestone coming back with him and his team. "I'm proud of our teammates. I just want to thank the fans that came all the way to Shelbyville. It's just huge for our whole school." 

For Coleman, getting to prepare for the school's first-ever semifinals game is great in and of itself. But it carries dual meaning. 

"This is a great group of guys," Coleman said. "You love them so much, you want to keep going and keep going every week. You don't want to lose because you want to keep practicing. You want to still be around week-to-week. 

"They're focused right now, that's the thing. They're really, really focused right now." 

Coleman remembers the adjustments the team had to make when Wade was out and still recovering from the ankle injury. Funny enough, it was that learning that likely helped the team Friday night on the sloppy grass field Shelbyville Central uses. 

"[Wade not being healthy] forced us to run the ball when people knew we were going to run the ball," Coleman said. "When the weather gets nasty, you really can't throw it very much...you're going to have to run the football, and I think that's what we're doing."  

The team now heads back home to face Dyer County next Friday night at 7:00 p.m. for a chance at the 5A state game. 

Everything is new for the Spartans right now, particularly the practice schedule. That's something you can bet the Spartans will be thankful for. 

"We're practicing during Thanksgiving," Coleman said with a smile. "That's always a good thing." 

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