Miners open up with big win
Sure, the Park City Miners football team have been looking a little stronger and acting a little bit more excited this season, but after Friday night, the Miners proved that they were for real, winning a 33-27 overtime battle against 5A Hillcrest.
"This is huge," said senior Matt Govin, who made plays both ways fro the Miners. "No one [other teams] looks at us."
Especially a team like Hillcrest, that boosts a much larger student body than Park City making them much deeper at some positions. Miners head coach Brandon Matich also believes it was the first time Park City had hosted a 5A school, making the win that much more memorable.
Perhaps the obvious indication of the team’s potential was running back Jared Tew. Touted in the preseason as a strong threat, the senior showed that he truly is a force to be reckoned with. Using his Division-I, college-sized body and skill, Tew motored out of the Miners’ backfield five times, including a game-saving touchdown in overtime. He finished the night with an impressive 248 yards rushing and nine yards receiving, 257 yards of total offense and an average of 10.8 yards per carry.
"I didn’t think I was going to have that good of a game," said Tew.
Tew’s offensive power may have been most surprising to the Hillcrest defense, who allowed the strong back to take first a 49-yard and then an 83-yard rush into the endzone. Hillcrest answered with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but struggled to keep up with the Miners throughout the first half. At the beginning of the second quarter, Tew managed another short, two-yard run into the endzone, giving the Miners a three-touchdown lead. Hillcrest would score again before the end of the half, but a weak Hillcrest kicking game which led to missed two-point conversions kept Park City comfortably in the lead, 21-12.
Tew was not a one-man show, though. Senior quarterback Andy ers added a few rushing yards to the effort, racking up 34 yards on eight attempts, and went 3-for-6 with no interceptions through the air.
Perhaps the most versatile play game from Govin, who not only caught two passes from Byers, but also led the Miners in interceptions grabbing two balls out of the hands of the Hillcrest offense.
"Our defense is explosive. We have so many different coverages," said Govin, who nearly had three interceptions in the game.
Matich said that the highlight of the Miners’ defense on Friday was more aggressive play.
"We scramble to fill the holes and rise to the occasion," Matich said.
In the second half, Hillcrest began to catch the Miners, scoring twice on the ground in the third and fourth quarter. Things looked promising at first as Tew opened up the half scoring his fourth touchdown of the game, but a pivotal Park City turnover with two minutes left in the third, opened the door for Hillcrest’s Manny Avalos to make an easy seven-yard run in to the endzone. A successful two-point conversion put Hillcrest within a touchdown on the scoreboard, 27-20.
Some missed tackles and few holes in the Park City defense allowed Hillcrest to score again on another Avalos run in the fourth, to tie the game. At the end of the fourth, both teams made mistakes, as Hillcrest failed to convert on fourth and nine and Park City fumbled on the ensuing drive. With mere seconds left in the game, Hillcrest faked a field goal, but the Miners’ Maurice Crichlow made a game-saving block in the endzone to force overtime.
In overtime, the Miners went back to the man that got them there, handing the ball off to Tew who ran the ball in for a 12-yard touchdown for the victory, 33-27.
On the other side of the ball, Colton Nichter led the defense with six tackles while Byers, Tew, Crichlow and Bobby Thorne each recorded five tackles each.
According to Matich, now in his second year at the helm of the Park City squad, the Miners will to win is the outward result of a team that has truly made a commitment to the new style and system.
"I believed in them. I knew they were going to do it," Matich said. " It’s just a different team and clearly a special group."
The only downside to the night was when Matich suffered a knee injury following a tackle that went into the sidelines. Matich spent the remainder the game on crutches and was scheduled for an MRI early this week to check for a ligament tear.
The Miners needed the boost of confidence that the Hillcrest win delivered as they prepare to welcome defending 3A state champion Logan High School. Logan polished off 5A powerhouse Hunter last Friday by two touchdowns. This is the second time the Miners have faced the Grizzlies since they made the move down from 4A. Last time they lost by a large margin to a Riley Nelson-led team, who was later named 3A State MVP and a high school All-American at quarterback.
"I think Logan is a hard challenge for us," Tew said. We need to get mentally focused."
The Miners will host Logan on Friday, August 25 at 7 p.m. at Dozier Field.
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