PCHS football keeps on plugging away
August 27, 2010
Park City High School head coach Kai Smalley sees a golden opportunity each and every week.
To perform well and win football games.
As he addressed his team after Wednesday’s practice, he was adamant that this week’s game against perennial football powerhouse Juan Diego would be a chance to open some eyes.
"Juan Diego’s a big game, I think, for anyone right now being that they’re a two-time state champion," Smalley said. "But like I told the kids last week, we’ve got to treat this like it’s the biggest game of our lives."
The season-opening loss to Riverton was not as much about getting blown out by a superior 5A school, which features one of the best rushing attacks in the state, as the Miners making a few key mistakes at the wrong time that led to a 54-21 final score.
"If you go back and look at the (game), it was mental mistakes, it was a few things that took us out of that game, otherwise I don’t see why we couldn’t have scored 40 points," Smalley said. "If we would have caught some of those passes, got some of those first downs – that was a great team we played, but we showed that scoring 21 points against a 5A team is a good thing."
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Preparing for Riverton and Juan Diego weren’t polar opposites. In fact, Smalley found pretty strong similarities in the two schools.
"That (Riverton) was a good warm-up for playing a run team – a great run team – in Juan Diego," he said.
The Soaring Eagle has a tenacious ground attack led by Cody Berg and Nathan Elorreaga. Juan Diego also has a more-than-respectable passing game that Park City will be asked to corral.
Smalley said that his defense has the ability to shut down an opposing offense and, on the offensive side of the ball, his players have the bona-fide tools to make threats on the scoreboard on a weekly basis.
"We had a hard time against Riverton, but I think Riverton’s going to turn out to be one of the better 5A teams to the state," he said. "We took our lumps, but we learned, we’ve had a good week of practice and I think we’ve also shown that we can be explosive."
Explosiveness is a word that has been synonymous with Miner offense. Smalley’s switch to the spread offense from the option-based attack of past years could be one that turns to fruition sooner than later. Led by the likes of quarterback Paul Flake, running back Blake Thorne and flankers Jono Schettler and Robert Cashel, Park City’s catching that perfect rhythm offensively is just a matter of time.
"If we can produce like that from week-to-week, we’re only going to get better," Smalley said.
Asking a quarterback to learn a spread offense in a few months is a tall task, but Smalley reiterated that Flake is more than capable of leading the charge.
"I can’t remember the last time someone looked in the paper and saw that a Park City quarterback threw for 250 yards," he said. "Paul’s stepped up, he wants to learn and he really wants to be good."
Flake threw for 244 yards and one touchdown against Riverton and the 5-foot-9 Thorne had a couple late touchdown runs.
Smalley expects to see what his team is adept at doing as the year rolls on.
"We’ve got to get good at what we do and expand from there," he said.
And as for the Juan Diego game, which was played at Juan Diego after The Record went to press Friday?
"Finish," Smalley said. "What we’ve got to do is finish."
Juan Diego (0-1) lost its opener 34-28 to West in overtime.