Long night in Logan
After waiting nearly a year for the rematch with one of their biggest foes, the Logan Grizzlies, the Park City Miners thought they were ready for Friday’s game. Unfortunately they were not prepared for a predator of a different sort that knocked them back before the game even started the flu. That, compounded with injuries and other setbacks severely hurt the Miners as they staggered to a 38-14 loss.
"We had a lot of guys standing," said Park City head coach Brandon Matich.
A rather nasty strain of the virus made the rounds through the team last week, plaguing many of the Miners’ starters. Those affected included one of the starting quarterbacks, Scott Neuenschwander, making what was arguably one of the Miners’ biggest games of the season even tougher.
The other starting quarterback, Erik Walker came in for the woozy Neuenschwander for much of the game. He was surrounded by of mix of starters, playing on both sides of the ball, and second stringers. Under normal circumstances Park City might have been all right with that kind of a mix, but against a tough team like Logan, it made things difficult. The Miners turned over the ball four times in the game, each one turning into a score for the Grizzlies.
"You can’t turn the ball over on a team like that," Matich said.
According to starting wide receiver Tony Epperson, the Miners did their best under the circumstances, but he hopes to see even more effort if similar situations arise later in the season.
"They stepped in and did good with the depth we had, but all the kids need to play to their potential," he said. "But we shouldn’t lose 38-14 because a couple of starters were out."
Epperson continued to go hard against Logan even when the team was down 38-7 late in the fourth quarter. He managed to score the final touchdown to narrow Park City’s losing margin.
"Tony’s a great player," Matich said. "He was amazing on that play."
It wasn’t all so lopsided at the beginning of the game. The Miners jumped on the scoreboard in their opening drive as they easily marched the ball downfield and capped it off with a two-yard touchdown by speedy junior running back Dylan Chynoweth.
But the Grizzlies answered right back when Logan quarterback Jeff Manning connected with Stephen Gwynn on a 90-yard passing play for a touchdown that tied up the score.
"They had some momentum," said Manning. "Once we got that play, the momentum swung back."
The momentum definitely decided to stay on Logan’s side. The Grizzlies scored three more times in the first half, including a 28-yard catch by Josh Thompson with just 12 seconds left, to give Logan a 28-7 lead heading into halftime. In the meantime, the Logan defense managed to keep Chynoweth under wraps and rest of the Miners silent.
In the second half it was more of the same as the Grizzlies added another touchdown and a field goal. Manning showed why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the state, racking three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns on the night.
The Miners had little to stop Manning, especially at the linebacker position. Matt Christenson and Bryce Delnort were already on the injured list before the game and Wesley Hedgecock and Renny Hixson joined the ranks by mid-game.
Throughout the night, the Logan defense took advantage of the tired and depleted Miners, capitalizing on turnovers and recording a handful of quarterback sacks.
The Miners will have a chance at redemption as soon as Friday when they travel to Morgan, hopefully with a healthier team.
"This will test their character," Matich said.
Epperson said that a loss like this in the preseason is something to build on for the rest of the season and shouldn’t change the Miners’ goals to go far into the state playoffs. After the game he reminded his team that Logan lost in the preseason last year to Judge Memorial but came back to beat the Bulldogs in the state championship.
"It’s too early to make predictions," he said. "We’re going to get better and not back down from these guys if we see them in the playoffs and I hope we do."
Park City will play at Morgan at 7 p.m. on Friday.
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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.