As construction crews worked on building the new set of bleachers at Dozier Field on Monday afternoon, Park City High School football coach Mike Shepherd said he hopes the Miners will perform well enough this season to fill all the new seats.
Coming off a season in which they finished with a 3-8 record, the Miners hope to return to the playoffs in 2014 while continuing to improve upon 2012's dismal 1-9 campaign.
Shepherd, now in his second year as head coach, believes this year's squad can do just that.
"We should be able to improve every year," he said. "As a program, we need to get better from top to bottom. I'm very confident that we're going to make big strides this year and in the years to come."
Quarterback Ian Moritz returns for his senior year, giving the Miners some important offensive stability. Shepherd expects big things in Moritz's last season at PCHS.
"Ian is a great leader," he said. "He's a good athlete - in fact, he's a great athlete. I have a lot of confidence that he's going to have a really good year."
Joining Moritz as a returning offensive starter will be junior Grayson Maddux, who will play running back on offense and linebacker on defense. Shepherd said Maddux has put on a lot of muscle this offseason and he's excited to see what he can do.
But, much like last year, the biggest question mark on offense will be the offensive line.
"Probably more than any other position on the field, inexperience on the offensive line is one of those things you just don't know about until you see it on the field and you see everybody in action," he said. "We have great candidates, but we just don't know yet. They're enthusiastic and very hard-working, but once again, they're very young.
The Miners are once again going to rely on a bevy of young players to step up and fill key roles. But, Shepherd said, the experience gained last year will help tremendously.
"The experience they gained can only be an advantage for them this year," he said. "Even though we're going to be young again this year, we're going to be young and more experienced than we were last year. And last year's freshman team that only lost one game, they're sophomores now and there are a number of those kids who are going to be playing varsity football."
The Miners' offense will feature parts of several different systems, including the fly, spread and option, Shepherd said.
"It's kind of a hybrid fly," he said. "We'll run some of our fly stuff, but then we'll run spread and we'll run some option. We're going to try to be a team that follows my philosophy of seeing what the defense is giving us. The defense can't cover everything - we'll do what they're giving us."
On the other side of the ball, the Miners will be making a tactical switch.
"We're going to be running a 3-4 as opposed to a 4-3," Shepherd said. "There are a couple reasons for it - one, we think we can defend option teams better out of a 3-4 and we think that defense will be better suited for our opponents.
"All the way around, it will be better for us to be in a 3-4 than a 4-3. I love the 4-3, but a 3-4 can work equally as well or better."
Overall, after a rough start to the 2013 season, Shepherd said the team really started coming together later in the year. With a fresh start in 2014, he expects the players to be fully committed to the Park City system. That, he hopes, will be enough to get the Miners back to the 3AA playoffs
"Everybody has bought in [to the system] at this point," he said. "Just that alone is going to make a big difference. If your kids haven't bought in, I don't care what kind of athletes you have - you're going to underachieve.
"My main thing is I want us to overachieve. If we can be overachievers every year, I'll be satisfied and we'll win a lot of games at the same time."
Park City's season begins on Friday, Aug. 22, with a game against South Summit, the defending 2A champions. The game will be played in Kamas and is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Park City High School Football Schedule
Friday, Aug. 22 - at South Summit - 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 29 - vs. Preston (Idaho) - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 5 - at Judge Memorial - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 12 - at Union - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 19 - vs. Tooele - 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 26 - at Uintah - 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3 - vs. Ben Lomond - 7 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 9 - at Bear River - 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 15 - at Stansbury - 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 24 - vs. Juan Diego - 7 p.m.