Local teams prep for season
Optimism and teamwork those are the words second-year Head Coach Brandon Matich uses to describe the Park City Miners this season.
After a three-win season last year that did not include a victory at home, Matich said the team outlook is tight and positive.
"Our outlook is very solid," he said. "Transition is always hard and last year was our first there. We have kids that are very positive and we have a great outlook for this season. Our goal now is to beat Hillcrest. Everything else will take care of itself."
The Miners suffered the departure of both starting defensive ends from last season, with Tyler Smith and Mike Orrison graduating, but with the team concept Matich is pushing, none of the Miners are thinking about what is missing, but rather what they have.
"They would have fit in well with the group we have this year," Matich said. "Will it impact us win-loss wise? I don’t think so. We have got kids who have filled in nicely for them. The neat thing about this is that they’re a very tight, loving group and they care about the coaches and each other. We play as a team."
Despite focusing on a team concept, Park City has a few individuals likely to stand out in the region and the state.
Quarterback Andy Byers will run Matich’s option offense, using speed and good decision making to spread defenses and find the holes.
"We have a quarterback that can run the option," Matich said. "He’s one of the best quarterbacks at running it that I’ve seen."
To balance the air attack, Byers will be able to hand the ball to running back Jared Tew, who is already getting talk as an all-state candidate, with Colton Nichter and Lucas Tucker opening the holes for Tew on the line.
Defensively, Matich said they will be changing formations to fit the team’s strengths.
"We were a 50-base front last year and now we’re going to a 4-2-5, mostly because of personnel," he said.
Preseason ranking placed the Miners in the middle of the region, but Matich just took the rankings as a challenge.
"We’ll take first."
With opening day closing in, and still no goalposts on their new turf field, Matich is optimistic that Friday’s home game will set the tone for the rest of the season. The Miners have already begun breaking in the turf, but when the goal posts went up, they came right back down because they were too heavy. Matich said it would be taken care of.
Park City will open their season at home against Hillcrest on Friday at 7 p.m.
North Summit High School
After a disappointing two-win season and a first-round playoff exit in 2005, seventh-year head coach Jerre Holmes is poised to lead the Braves back into the top half of the 2A North Region.
In the preseason rankings, region coaches have picked North Summit to finish third in the conference, in part because of the returning starters eight on offense and seven on defense after the 2005 season saw a mere four contributing seniors on the Braves’ squad.
"Everyone is a year older, whether they were with us last year or injured," Holmes said. "They’re going to be better because they’re older and more mature. We’ve got a lot of guys back, which is why we’re picked a little higher. We ought to be better after last year, when our plan was to throw it a little bit more, but we weren’t able to because of injuries."
Kam Garfield, who missed half of last year’s season because of a back injury, is back to take the snaps for the Braves, giving them the arm they missed in the playoffs.
"Kam is a good leader and he understands the offense that we run," Holmes said. "He’ll be able to run the ship like he wanted to last year, and he’s planning on doing that."
Garfield will have some help in a receiving corps that includes Chris Louder, widely considered one of the top tight ends in the region. As a 6 foot, 6 inch tall, 220 pound wide-out, he will be a big target for the Braves.
The Braves return all of last season’s starting offensive linemen, although center Russ Preator will be out for the start of play with a meniscus tear. The rest of the line will attempt to give Garfield time to throw the ball as well as create holes for Holmes’ strong group of running backs.
Holmes said Nathaniel Richins, likely leader of the running back by committee philosophy for North Summit, will use speed and smarts to move the ball upfield. Tanner Rieker, Dallin Donaldson and fullbacks Oliver Geary and Caleb Adams will all work together to pound the ground game forward.
Defensively, Chuck Woolstenhulme and Kyler Lund have shown promise on both sides of the line, Holmes said, and Louder and Drew Robinson might prove to be two of the best defensive ends in the state.
"They’ve all gotten themselves stronger from a year ago and just the fact that they’re a year older in their brains makes a big difference too," Holmes said. "We had a few linemen out last year because of injuries and it will be nice to have them back too."
Holmes said there will likely be about seven players playing on both sides of the ball for the Braves, helping to form a cohesive unit amongst the team.
"We’ve had some real good individual players in the past, but as the team as a whole, I’d stack us up against any team I’ve had," he said. "We’ll be solid at every position."
The Braves open their season at home in Coalville on Friday against Ogden at 7 p.m.
South Summit High School
The Wildcats, from 2A North region, suffered a heartbreaker in their season-ending loss in the first round of the 2005 playoffs when North Sevier outlasted them through four overtimes, but that early exit and a two-win season won’t disrupt the confidence Head Coach Jerry Parker has for 2006.
"We had opportunities in that game to hit an extra point or a field goal, and we even had a great kicker, but he just missed them," the second-year coach said. "But we should be better than last year. We should make the playoffs and do well, even though our region is very good again."
In the 2A North region, they were picked by the conference coaches in the preseason to finish fifth, but Parker, former head coach of 5A Granger High School, said he thinks the Wildcats will be in the top three or four by the end of the year.
Although the green and white will be young, they will be led by experienced leaders such as junior quarterback Connor Peterson and junior running back/linebacker Brayden Stenbridge.
Stenbridge, who is 6 feet, four inches tall and weighs over 200 pounds, will return to the lineup this season after an injury sustained in last season’s game against Park City put him on the sidelines. He is the younger brother of former South Summit standout Kolby Stenbridge.
Running back Cody Wall, a senior, will be a key contributor for the Wildcats, who tend to keep the ball on the ground.
"He was our third-down go-to-guy on short yardage last year," Parker said. "He’s a state champion wrestler. He brings a lot of grit. He’s a hard-nosed kid."
Parker also said there will be about five players playing both offense and defense, but that it will be the offensive and defensive lines that make the difference.
"If the lines come along, we’ll be fine. We have three starters back on the offensive line, but we’re just shy beyond that."
Senior lineman Jake Field will be back to lead on both sides of the ball and hopefully provide size, speed and experience.
"More than anything it’s the size of the kids," Parker said about the difference between coaching 2A and 5A. "At Granger our line averaged 265 pounds and here we average 165. But the passion is there. These kids play hard."
The Wildcats open their season on Friday at home in Kamas against Canyon View at 7 p.m.
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