PCHS Football: Miners get back to business with spring ball
Kai Smalley commanded the drill and let his players know what was expected of them.
"Somebody better jump in," he shouted during the drill dubbed "Oklahoma," pitting two offensive players against two defensive players. "We’re taking notes. Let’s go."
Smalley, in his third year at the helm of Park City High School football, was all business during last week’s annual spring football session. And the Miner head coach said his players followed suit.
Park City must address a multitude of holes left by a departed 2012 senior class that featured one of the most dynamic players in the history of the program in wide receiver Jono Schettler, as well as team leaders Heath Vincent, John Finch, Daniel Surfass, Paul Flake, Jack Rinehart, and others.
The Miners must also answer the question that is asked of every football program when the starting quarterback graduates and moves on: Who’s the new No. 1?
By the looks of things it will be Alec Wing, a 6-foot-2, 155-pound junior who has been involved with Smalley’s spread-style offense since his freshman year. Wing, a sprinter on the Park City High School track & field team, will give the Miners a versatile look behind center this season. With a strong arm and pocket presence, he has the ability to make plays on the move, Smalley said.
"He was running the offense and, most importantly, players have some faith in him," Smalley said. "He knows where the ball is going to go.
"He’s just a fast player. He is the kind of kid that can be a pocket passer, but he’s actually better when he’s on the run. With him, we know what we’re going to get. It was comforting to see him sit in the pocket, but he’s kind of deceptive in what he might be able to do."
Smalley said Wing is a student of the game, constantly watches film, and is a regular at any number of quarterback camps.
"He’s not a yelling-type guy, but he’s got a good calming effect," he said. "He puts the offense at ease. They know what he’s doing and he knows what they’re doing. He’s got kind of that swagger you look for in a quarterback — confident, but not cocky."
Behind Wing this season will be a wave of running backs that will offer some thunder and lightning for a Park City offense that will need to run the ball to set up the passing game.
"We have three or four guys that can start on any team," said offensive coordinator Mike Dolan with a smile during last Wednesday’s spring ball session.
That starts with the brawn of senior Trevor Kelsch, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back who will most likely get the nod as the starting single back. Behind Kelsch are senior Alex Boyle, a 6-foot, 175-pound all-around runner and Peter Papineau, a 6-foot, 190-pound back who can provide extra pop.
"We do have some good running backs, but the position is open," Smalley said. "We have an idea of where we want to go, but we have a lot of time to figure that out.
"With a stable of (running backs), I’m hoping that will hide some of our intent with where we’re going with the ball and getting the defense off balance."
Much of the varsity wide receiving corps will be new, but Smalley said the group has enough flair and talent to get the offensive minds excited. He said senior Cameron Kraus, along with juniors Grady Grissom, Carson Dutkanych and AJ Carpenter, will provide a nice variety of offensive weapons for Wing and the offense. Also included in that mix will be Dustin Landis, new to Park City from Chico, Calif., who has flashed moments of brilliance on his new stomping grounds.
"I’m excited because we have a lot of very good skill players and guys that can make something happen with the ball in their hands," Smalley said.
Defensively, Konnor Andersen steps into the middle linebacker spot for the Miners, replacing a team leader in Finch. Smalley said he expects big things out of Arthur Hedderly-Smith and Matt Payne on the defensive line, and the likes of Kelsch and Papineau will also provide some athleticism. On the offensive line, the lone returning player is senior Griffin Nelson. Smalley said Nelson will have to be an anchor for young and inexperienced line.
"We have a lot of kids we’re excited about right now, but it’s going to be interesting to see what a full summer of workouts is like," Smalley said.
With the season opener at Spanish Fork on Aug. 17 creeping up on the schedule, Smalley said the team and the coaching staff have a way to go, but seeing more than 50 players show up for a Monday morning weight-lifting session is a promising start to the post-spring ball agenda.
"It’s going to be business as usual," he said.
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