For the first time in 9 years, the Park City High School Miners football team are playing in the state semi-final.
The Miners will take on the Dixie High School Flyers on Thursday – playing under the lights at the Salt Lake City Olympic Stadium – Rice Eccles Field – at 6 pm.
The Miners narrowly defeated the Sky View Bobcats 15 to 14 last Friday. Head coach Josh Montzingo says there were a couple of key plays. The first was a 4th down punt and run
“We have an interesting punt formation where we put two effective quarterbacks back there." Montzingo explained, "One can roll and kick left one can roll and kick right so it’s a little bit deceptive every time we go back there. We have a few trick plays that are built in and my defensive coordinator who’s in charge of that did a great job of dialing up one of the fakes we’d worked on all week that we thought we could sucker them into. We were able to pitch the ball to Mark McCurdy who was able to make a great pass to Evan Pointer and it got us going. It sparked our offense and gave us the first touchdown to keep us in that game.”
The second key play was when he decided to go for the 2-point conversion after the Miners scored their 2nd touchdown and were down 14 to 13.
“We got down near the goal line and we thought we could take advantage of them overplaying our run and we didn’t really have a good pass play off of that." Montzingo continued, "We thought well we’ll just come up with an idea. So, we were able to sucker them into leaving the backside open for Mark McCurdy to make a nice move and Jack Skidmore made an incredible pass to get the touchdown. We thought well it worked so well for the touchdown lets just flip it and go the other way. They did cover it better the second time, but Mark made a great decision saw a little hole, he stopped his run to the corner and just jumped up. Jack saw him and made a great pass to him.”
It was an all or nothing decision.
“I think when you’re the underdog by as much as we were and you’re on the road anyway you have nothing to lose." Montzingo said, "The kids like to be aggressive and they feed off that, so we felt like that we didn’t have anything to lose lets go for it, lets have some fun with this.”
Many of those on the team have been playing for years together in the youth league and it shows.
“This group has been together since they were in late elementary school there, jr. high." Montzingo explained, "They’re used to winning. They won a lot of championships in the youth level and our program has done an amazing job of bringing these guys up. Having them compete and having them learn the game and love the game and more importantly love each other. These guys really are a family. It’s always a thing you throw out there and we definitely talk about being a family and these guys truly are. They care about each other and you can tell when they’re out there. One goes down the next one rolls in ‘I’ve got ya, I’ve got ya’ and he truly means it. It’s not like hey its my turn, its just hey I’m going to pick it up for ya. I think that passion you can see, you can see how much they love each other, and they love the game and it kinda spills out onto the field.”
Sky View may have been a bit overconfident going into the game… He says they hadn’t lost since last season.
“They had been undefeated the past two regular seasons." Montzingo continued, "The only game up until the other night they had lost was the semi-finals to Orem last year who was the eventual champion. So, they probably felt like ‘we’re ready to go we’ve kinda got this because Park City is undersized, and we’ll take care of this.’ They were twice our size but at the same time our kids haven’t backed down from anybody no matter whether they’re bigger or not. We started with Salem Hills this year and that team was easily twice our size they battled against them and they’ve done that their whole lives. They did that in youth and they’ve done that now and I think they’re going to keep doing it.”
The Miners take on Dixie Thursday the team they lost to in the frost round last year.
“They’re a very good team." Montzingo said, "Their head coach is amazing they do a great job with them. They have athletes all over the field. I think they remind me a little bit of us. I think that’s the interesting thing they’re not as big as some of the teams we’ve seen. They’re not small, but they’re not as big as some of the teams we’ve seen but they can match us with speed and athleticism. Sometimes we can get the bigger teams with speed and that kind of gives us the edge, but this team is going to have team speed. Same as Skyview did last week so it’ll be another probably tough defensive gonna have to find ways to make our plays and make our scores and we’re going to have to have some guys step up.”
Park City High School Football Coach Josh Montzingo. Pre-sale tickets for Thursday’s game are now available in the main office at PCHS. Students $5.00 Adults $10.00 Cash only. Also – a clear bag policy is in effect - all bags brought into Rice-Eccles Stadium must be transparent. While the Miners have made it to the state finals a couple of times, Montzingo says the football team has yet to be state champions.