After suffering through a 1-9 campaign in 2012, Park City High School senior Konnor Andersen is out to ensure that he and his teammates on the football team finish the 2013 season on a much higher note.
A 44-0 Week 1 loss at South Summit and subsequent blowout losses at the hands of Minico (Idaho) and Judge Memorial put the Miners at 0-3 and made it look like it might be another long season for Park City.
But a 37-36 Week 4 loss at home to Union, a game in which Andersen caught two touchdown passes, showed that the Miners weren't going to let the season get away without a fight.
Cue last Friday night's game at Tooele, Park City's first region game of the year. Needing a win in the worst way, Andersen again caught two touchdown passes to help lead the Miners to a 24-21 victory. He also helped lead the defense to its best performance of the season from his middle linebacker position.
"We liked coming out and showing Tooele fans that we were ready to play," Andersen said. "It was the first game in region, so it was good to come out and start region off right."
On Wednesday afternoon, as Andersen and his teammates waited for the rain/hail/snow mix to pass through so they could head out to Dozier Field for practice, Andersen's eagerness to return to the field was evident.
"We should be competitive in every game from here on out," he said. "We want to make the playoffs. Last year, it was an embarrassment not making the playoffs.
Since the Park City squad features several underclassmen in prominent positions on both offense and defense, Andersen takes his responsibilities as a senior leader seriously.
"I was elected as a captain early this off-season," he said. "It's nice because now I can help those underclassmen that are contributing for us. We need those guys to perform well in order to win games, so it's nice to be there sharing my experiences playing varsity football."
He also leads by example. Andersen changed positions this offseason in order to better fit into new coach Mike Shepherd's "fly" offense.
"During the offseason, Coach Shepherd talked about how we only use a tight end sometimes and asked if I'd be willing to line up wide sometimes," Andersen explained. "I said, 'Sure, of course. Anything to help the team win.'"
Now Andersen, who stands at 6'1" and weighs 230 pounds, has come to enjoy his new wide receiver position.
"Lining up out wide, I feel like I'm a mismatch for some of those smaller corners in Utah," he said.
Overall, though, he still enjoys playing on the defensive side of the ball more.
"They're both fun, but I think I'd have to pick defense," he said. "I'd rather hit people than be hit. As you can see, on the offensive side of the ball, I'd rather go after them than have them come after me."
The Miners will need Andersen to keep playing aggressively and keep working hard and leading by example if they want to overcome the slow start to make an appearance in the 3AA playoffs. Andersen hopes his work ethic rubs off on his teammates and becomes the way his younger teammates remember him when he's off at college next year.
"I want to be known as a hard worker," he said. "There was a college coach, I can't remember who, who always said that when your best player is your hardest worker, that's when you're successful. So I've always strived to be the best player I can and the hardest worker. I know I'm not that freakishly athletic kid I need to work hard to be successful."
He's hoping colleges take notice of his hard work.
"I'd like to go play college football," he said. "That's a plan I've been focused on for the past couple years. I go to camps every summer. I spent five or six weeks this summer that I wasn't home I was at camp after camp after camp."
He added that he wants to play at a big-name college program, if he can.
"My list has been narrowed and expanded, narrowed and expanded," he said. "But I think I've got it down to about eight right now Stanford, Wisconsin, Boise State, Utah State, Utah, BYU and then some Ivy League schools. This year, I camped at Yale, I camped at Harvard and I camped at Princeton. Dartmouth has called me a couple times too."
Academically, Andersen wants to stay close to football by studying sports medicine and physical therapy.
But, for now, he's focused on finishing out his high school career on a good note. At the top of that list is making the playoffs this year.
"We need to get better every single year, every single practice, every single game, every single week," he said. "If we do that, we can win, and winning is why you play football. It's a lot more fun if you win."
Park City hosted Uintah on Friday night (after this issue went to press). The Miners have games at Ben Lomond, at home against Bear River and Stansbury and at Juan Diego left on their schedule.