Anchors aweigh: Miners’ star dons blue and gold
all accounts, Dylan Chynoweth is an upstanding young man.
A perennial honor-roll student at Park City High School, Chynoweth was named Class 3A’s most valuable player last season after leading the Miners’ football team to its second straight Region 10 championship. The example he set in his time at PCHS was so positive that his coach, Brandon Matich, named his newborn son Trey Dylan Matich.
None of that mattered this summer. As a plebe in basic training at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Chynoweth was told, repeatedly, that he is nothing.
"In basic training, everything you do is wrong, no matter how you do it," Chynoweth said by phone after his second day of class Wednesday. "You walk in that first day and they shave your head and take your clothes and your cell phone away."
Following seven weeks of mental berating, physical training and learning about the basics of Navy life – how to use a firearm, when to salute, what makes a ship sail – he recently entered fall camp as a fullback with Navy’s football team.
Chynoweth said older players have been very gracious in welcoming the freshman to the team, and senior Ricky Dobbs – who last year set an NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 27 – is among those who have gone out of their way to show him the ropes.
While he hasn’t had many chances to show his wares in practice, he has broken a few long runs. Most first-year Navy players get sent to preparatory school to improve their physical abilities or grades (Navy’s version of redshirting), but Chynoweth will suit up in the blue and gold this season.
Although his lack of repetitions with the first team has frustrated him at times, Chynoweth is glad to be well schooled in the triple-option rushing offense that served the Miners so well under Coach Matich. "I feel like I have a pretty good advantage," he said.
Upon graduating from the Naval Academy, Chynoweth will be obligated to serve his country for a minimum of five years, something he had never considered until his senior year of high school, but he said that "felt right." For the next four years, he will be assigned the rank of midshipman, complete with an official pay grade and professional duties. As if those commitments weren’t rigorous enough, he is expected to uphold standards in the classroom that many Division I athletes would chafe at.
"It’s not like other schools, where if you don’t show up to class, you just get a slap on the wrist," he said. "Here, you’ve got to make sure you get your butt to school on time."
Attendance is not likely to be Chynoweth’s Achilles’ heel, however. He was an exemplary student at PCHS, and he cites achieving a good education as a main draw to the Academy.
"There is nothing bad you can say about Dylan," said Matich, who now coaches at East High School after four years mentoring the Midshipman fullback. "He works hard, and being successful is really important to him."
Matich is close friends with Chynoweth’s father, John, who would sit in on Miners’ halftime speeches back while his son was still in eighth grade. When the younger Chynoweth made the varsity team as a freshman, Matich gave his diminutive new runner the nickname "Chipmunk." Five years later, Chynoweth views his old coach as another uncle, or a second father.
Plebes receive 30 minutes a week to talk on the phone during the summer, and Chynoweth made sure to squeeze in calls to Matich as well as fellow college-bound teammates Erik Walker (now a Weber State wide receiver) and Scott Adams (a lineman at William Penn).
"You make sure to try to say ‘I love you’ to everyone that you can," he said. He has yet to talk with 2006 PCHS graduate Jared Tew, a star fullback for the rival Air Force Academy, but wishes him the best of luck this season.
With a caveat, that is.
"We’re gonna have to whoop ’em this year," he said. The two teams face off on Versus in Colorado Springs on Oct. 2. Navy’s opener against Maryland on Sept. 6 will be televised on ESPN.
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