PCHS football: From the ground to the gun
August 17, 2010
Everywhere new coach Kai Smalley goes in Park City – in the aisles of the grocery store or the hallways of the school – people want to know: Just what, exactly, is Park City High School’s new spread offense going to look like?
On Friday night at Class 5A Riverton High School, those questions will be answered better than Smalley could ever do with his mouth alone. For now, you’ll just have to take his word for it.
"It’s kind of going the way that we hoped it would," Smalley said. "The kids are flying around, they’re having fun. They want to be good at this."
A handful of the team’s players missed a few days of X’s and O’s camp to learn the spread offense at The System Camp in Thurston, Ore., where Smalley once coached as an assistant after a four-year career on the defensive line at the University of Oregon.
Smalley said those players learned the different styles of spread offense, and have begun to forge their own identity within the popular system that involves no huddles and a shotgun formation for each snap.
"We have some things that make us a very unique team," he said. "We have a lot of good receivers and two or three very good running backs who are going to draw a lot of attention. They’ve been kind of overlooked because of the guys who were there in the past."
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Most important is that the team has bought into the concept of a run-and-gun offense after departed (and now East) head coach Brandon Matich led the Miners to state championship contention using a pounding triple option ground attack that showcased the talents of departed seniors Dylan Chynoweth (now with Navy) and Erik Walker (Weber State).
"We’ve had some guys really emerge," Smalley said of summer practices. "I couldn’t have stepped into a better situation."
Among those to raise his game is 6-foot-1 junior quarterback Paul Flake, who has "really stepped into his own," Smalley said. Flake is the team’s third-fastest player and has to resist the temptation to use his feet first, but he has delivered his best effort thus far.
Smalley said the offensive line has proven to be large and effective, with 6-foot-2, 275-pound A.J. Flint at left tackle paving the way for another strong running game. Smalley also said to look out for big things from 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior tight end Jake Adams, who could be among the best at his position in the state.
Less has changed on the defensive side of the ball, where new coordinator Joe Sisson has quickly gained his players’ confidence in his first stint coaching defense. "The kids love him," Smalley said. "He’s done some things that I know are going to stick with me for a long time."
The team’s annual red/white scrimmage last Friday had some fans buzzing about the high-powered passing attack, Smalley said, but he doesn’t want to give too much away. For now, the secret is Riverton’s to figure out.
Smalley said the Silverwolves, who finished second in their region last year, feature a wing-T running attack and a strong defense. It’s not altogether typical for a Class 3A team to schedule a 5A opponent for its opener, but Smalley thinks it will benefit his team in weeks to come.
"It’s going to get us ready," he said. "We’ve got a lot of good competition this year, and we’re going to have to beat the best to be the best."
For the class of 16 seniors who have heard so much about how the 2009 graduating class was one of the best in Park City’s history, the time is now to show that they were a part of last year’s state semifinalist team, too.
"They’re not just going to be the class that came behind those guys," Smalley said.
Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m. After Riverton, the Miners stay on the road for 3A Juan Diego on Aug. 27. Delta is slated for the first home game on Sept. 3. The homecoming game will be held against Manti on Sept. 17. The first Region 10 game is Sept. 24 at Union.