Nothing like getting the proverbial monkey off your back.
Just ask the Park City High School football team that finally shook a first-round playoff curse that had ended its state championship hopes the last three years by beating Emery 41-7.
"We wanted to prove we weren’t a one-and-done team," Park City running back Dylan Chynoweth said.
Park City head coach Brandon Matich admitted that the victory over Emery was a bit easier than the previous first-round matches against tough teams like Cedar in 2005, Snow Canyon in 2006 and Logan last year, but he was still pleased to see his team advance.
"It feels good," he said. "It wasn’t Logan or Snow Canyon, but it feels good to get it off of your back."
He said that getting over this hurdle was key to the rest of the postseason, because it allowed the team to get in the right mindset to make a playoff run.
"I think we’re better than that," Matich said. "I want our kids to believe they’re better than a first-round win."
The Miners did show a bit of rust after a two-and-a-half-week layoff since their final regular-season game. The team had a total of four fumbles, including one that allowed Emery to put some points on the board in the first quarter. Chynoweth opened up the game with a seven-yard touchdown run and was on his way to the second when things went awry. Chynoweth fumbled the ball on the two-yard line where Emery’s John Conder picked it up and ran back 41 yards. It took Emery a few more plays before Colby Snow turned in a five-yard touchdown run to put the Spartans on the board.
"We need to knock the rust off," Matich said. "We just need to focus a bit more."
After that, it was all Miners. The Park City defense held Emery to just 142 yards of total offense, while the Park City offense was able to pile up a whopping 492 yards.
"We’ve got three options," said Park City quarterback Erik Walker referring to his ability to keep the ball, hand it off to Chynoweth or pass. "It’s tough to stop."
Walker was prolific in the game racking up 167 yards on 12 carries with a team-leading three touchdowns. He scored two in the first half and then capped off the game by blazing past defenders for a 72-yard touchdown. Chynoweth added to his early touchdown with another one late in the third quarter to put the Miners ahead 34-7. He led the team in total yardage with 203 yards on 24 carries.
The Miners may be able to stretch their winning streak even farther into the playoffs due to getting battle-tested early in the season. After a going through the regular season relatively unscathed in previous years, Matich decided to schedule a number of tough teams early in the season this year to prepare his team for tough matchups in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the team lost a number of those games and had to overcome a loss of confidence to regain their foothold in region play.
"I thought the tough schedule would prepare for the postseason," he said. "I didn’t think it would suck the confidence out of us."
The team rallied in midseason and came on to win the region title.
"Our kids were challenged," Matich said. "Our heart was challenged."
The Miners’ next challenge will be this Friday at Dozier Field at 5 p.m. when they meet Cedar City in the quarterfinals. Matich and the rest of the team know that they will need to play a little harder with fewer mistakes to make it to the semifinals.
"We need to find a little bit more passion and a little bit more juice," he said.
The Braves scored eight touchdowns on Friday as they overwhelmed South Sevier in a quarterfinal game 52-29. North Summit will play Juab in the semifinals this Saturday at 2 p.m. at Woods Cross High School. The semifinal matchup should be a good one. The last time the Braves saw Juab in the regular season, they lost 27-20 when Juab was able to score in the waning moments of the game.
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Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts in early June submitted a letter to the Park City Planning Commission in support of a Provo developer’s blueprints for a major project at the resort.