Three games into this season something seemed to be off with David Summers, the prolific quarterback who had been putting up huge numbers for the St. Joseph football team.
The Cadets won their highly anticipated opener against New Canaan, but Summers threw three interceptions. Two games later, the Darien defense held Summers to 116 yards passing in a 22-7 loss.
Summers’ five interceptions equaled his total from a year ago. His completion percentage was below .500.
“There were times I felt off, especially after the great season I had last year,” Summers recalled. “There were times it just felt like something was off but that was for a couple of days or a game. Ever since the Darien game I’ve felt great throwing the ball.”
The old Summers has since returned. He has thrown 27 touchdowns passes and just five interceptions during a nine-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s Class M final against Berlin. The game is at Shelton at 2 p.m.
“It was all mentality,” Summers said. “You just have to believe you will play your best game week in and week out and it will be fine.”
St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia said the early struggle had as much to do with adjusting to a new offense, one without Jared Mallozzi, the leading receiver the past two years. The Cadets had a strong group, but each member had been in more of a supporting role. Plus, Phil Pasmeg and Brady Hutchison, two key members, were out with injuries.
“We just kept working hard at it,” Della Vecchia said. “I think he might have felt a little more pressure than he should have. It’s hard to say. He was looking for his crutch and Jared was gone, and Jared was always going to be that guy to bail us out and we didn’t have that early in the year with Phil out. Brady Hutchison was out too. Trying to figure out who that guy was going to be slowed down our entire offense. To pin it all on him, you can’t do that. It was the entire system that needed a little tweaking.”
In a sense, Summers was also a prisoner to his junior season. His numbers looked like something from a video game: 3,227 yards, 49 touchdown passes, five interceptions. He completed 65 percent of his passes.
“He was so great last year and he was playing well but not standing out, I guess, where he was going to throw five or six touchdowns a game,” Della Vecchia said. “That’s not the case, against good teams, early in the season. You play New Canaan and Darien and Ridgefield and Staples. It’s not easy.”
Summers enters his final game for the Cadets in the hottest groove this season. He has thrown 14 touchdowns and just one interception in the last four contests, including two state playoff wins.
“He’s a leader, he gets everybody up,” said Jaden Shirden, the Cadets’ star running back. “It’s a great feeling to play with a quarterback like that.”
Summers is coming to terms with Saturday being his final game for the Cadets.
“Mixed feelings,” Summers said. “It is probably more different for me than other kids because I have more football to play. It’s kind of sad because it’s my last high school football game and I’ve started three years now. It kind of feels weird that it is the last game I’m going to play with these kids.”
Summers will end up playing in a final all three seasons at St. Joseph since transferring from Fairfield Warde. He has the opportunity to win a second straight title and helping to lead the Cadets to their fourth in six years.
“I’ve been thinking about that a little bit,” Summers said. “For my last high school game there’s no better game to play. The last game a state championship game.”
Summers is committed to play next year at Maryland. Though the school will have a new coach, Summers said he has no plans to change his decision.
“I’m still going to go to Maryland,” Summers said. “I just have to win this game first.”