Miners football camp proves fruitful
The Miners annual football camp that started on Monday was all about the "P" words this year practice, Park City, Price, and a new one passion.
Park City head football coach Brandon Matich was expecting a fruitful week as he took his team down to the summer football camp held at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, but this year’s experience is sure to be a memorable one. The Miners, led by a devoted senior class, are completely focused on playing football, winning and always putting the team first.
"It’s like night and day," Matich said. "This group of seniors has bought in completely."
Senior running back and strong safety Nick Vought says the attitude adjustment is palpable.
"Last year, it was ‘practice again today?!’ [This year] we were all pumped. It’s a lot better," Vought said. "The vibe is better here."
Actually, the change wasn’t a huge surprise, it was just how fast it came. Matich says that it’s usually supposed to take three years for a football program to assimilate after a regime change. But in just his second year at the helm, the boys seem to already be on board. Since the dead of winter, the team has been hard at work in the weight room putting on the muscle needed to face the larger division schools in the preseason and the farm boys of Morgan, Union and Uintah in Region 10. That kind of commitment has produced a dedication to the team — to winning and to supporting each other at all times.
"It’s a group that loves football," Matich said. "A fun group of kids that love each other."
Senior Andy ers agrees.
"We know what we are doing a lot more now," Byers said. "The coaches feel more confident about the offensive system working together."
And the positive changes extend all the way into the coaching ranks. Added to the staff this year, are top names from all levels. The marquee hire is Ray Groth, former Highland High head coach. Groth brings a wealth of organizational skills, specialization in quarterback coaching and a keen knowledge of running the option.
"He is a great football coach," Matich said. "I learn stuff just being around him."
From the Ute Conference league comes John Chynoweth who led one of Park City’s top developmental teams to a league championship last year. And finally, Levi Negley, a standout lineman in both high school and college, will join Lee Chart to lead the offensive and defensive lines.
The four-day camp, which kicks off the boys’ training schedule as they prepare for the opening game against Hillcrest High on August 18, featured a little bit of everything. Days were spent in offensive and defensive drills, team stretches and team meetings. Nighttime brought matchups with other teams, team-building activities and the election of team captains.
The nightly matchups were mostly a "meeting of the Miners." The 5A Bingham Miners –the darlings of the prep league this year ,stocked with an astounding 165 players and three players who have already signed with Brigham Young University was the only team that agreed to intersquad practice drills. Although, the 3A Miners were a bit overmatched, the nightly meetings only increased their passion. On one side of the field, the Miners held seven-on-seven drills, giving Matich the chance to practice multiple plays against different defenders. The drills allowed the offensive coaches a prime opportunity to watch the quarterback position, which is still is up for grabs. If the season started tomorrow, Matich admits that senior Andy Byers would be his leader, but Searle Vincent, the smaller, yet deceptively effective play caller that came in late last season when Wil Christensen was hurt, is still in strong contention and Scott Neuenschwander, the dark horse for the position, also had a strong showing at camp.
The lineman met up on the other side of the field and went one-on-one in rotation until all of the big men had their chance against one another. The Park City Miners feature one of the biggest lines in recent school history with the players like Pat Kruse at six feet, three inches and 290 pounds, Calvin Mutcher at six feet and one inch and 270 pounds and Dan Modrovsky at six feet, five inches. Chart says that the opportunity for his men to practice against some of the state’s biggest and best was a great learning experience that is only driving their passion to become more powerful players.
"It gives them a look at something different every play," Chart said. "It makes them better players and gives them confidence."
Perhaps the only downside to the camp was the injury of 3A All-State hopeful running back Jared Tew, a senior with Division I college prospect talent. A knee-to-knee hit during Tuesday’s drills gave him a deep knee contusion that sidelined him for the remainder of camp, but Matich isn’t worried about Tew’s readiness for the upcoming season.
"There is no question that he could be a bonafide superstar," Matich said.
Tew also says that he is ready to lead the team.
"I like having the weight on my shoulders," Tew said. "I like people to depend on me and step up.
Byers and Vincent, depending on who is chosen at quarterback, will also take on a fair amount of the rushing load.
The Miners have just four more weeks before they open the 2006 season hosting 5A Hillcrest in the Endowment Game on Aug. 18 on the newly refurbished Dozier Field, but the eager group agrees that they will be ready.
"We’re focused on Hillcrest and were going to bring it to them," said senior lineman Lucas Tucker.
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. The numbers in December show the Park City economy still was roaring during the first full month of the ski season.