PCHS football: Park City finds a piece to the puzzle
They’re young, undersized, and at times look to be overmatched. But the Miners showed something Friday night, something they hadn’t shown very much of in their previous two games: Response.
The Park City High School football team fell to visiting Snow Canyon 51-27 Friday night at Dozier Field. The Miner defense once again struggled to stop the run as the Warriors rushed for 391 yards. Offensively, however, Park City (0-3) may have found a viable aerial attack.
Sophomore quarterback Ian Moritz, who accounted for all four of Park City’s touchdowns, was targeting junior quarterback-slash-receiver Alec Wing for much of the night as the Miners opened up their offense in attempt to crawl back into the game. Wing, a 6-foot-3 target, was able to establish himself as a threat on the outside for Park City, while junior Carson Dutkanych and sophomore Chandler Anderson appeared to be viable options across the middle of the field for a Park City aerial attack that had been basically nonexistent through the first two games.
Park City head coach Kai Smalley, when asked if he had found himself a quarterback and a go-to receiver, replied with a smile, "Uh, yeah. I was very proud of the way those two communicated."
"Alec stepped in and I thought Ian did a great job of moving the safety with his eyes. That’s obviously something he can learn to do more and more of, especially because he’s just a sophomore. (Moritz and Wing), as they continue to work together — this is really just their first night like this — they’re going to get a lot better. They’ve caught balls together in practice, but you’ve got to take into consideration with continuing to work together how good they can be."
With Snow Canyon obviously keying on senior running back Alex Boyle after his breakout game against Stansbury in week two — Boyle had 95 yards on 23 carries Friday — Park City was forced to see what kind of arsenal it has through the air. Moritz, who threw for 301 yards, was able to find Dutkanych (102 receiving yards) on several crossing routes in the middle of the field, while Wing (101 receiving yards) and Anderson, as well as junior tight end Konnor Andersen, provided downfield choices for the strong-armed sophomore.
"I also saw a lot of explosion," Smalley said. "It brings a different dynamic when Alec and Chandler are on both sides and are players who can go and climb a ladder and come down with the ball. And Carson — wow — when he gets the ball in his hands, he’s very dangerous."
The Warriors took a 21-0 lead in the second quarter after Snow Canyon quarterback Mason Smith’s memorable 68-yard scramble for a touchdown. Smith avoided sacks on three separate occasions before crossing the field twice and outrunning the Miner defense for the score.
Moritz and the Park City offense went to the air and quickly marched down the field with completions to Wing, Dutkanych and Anderson. Moritz eventually found senior running back Trevor Kelsch for a 30-yard touchdown to bring the Miners within two scores, but Snow Canyon answered, returning the ensuing kick off 80 yards for a touchdown.
Trailing 31-7 at the start of the second half, Park City marched down the field once again on the arm of Moritz and the hands of the Miner receivers. The sophomore eventually scored on a three-yard touchdown run.
Snow Canyon continued to answer on the ground, scoring three more times, but Park City was able to move the chains frequently in the second half. Moritz and Wing connected twice in the fourth quarter for touchdowns.
While the Miners may have found a nice passing yin to their rushing yang of Boyle and Kelsch, defensively, they must find a way to shore up their run defense going forward. In three games, the Miners have given up a total of 146 points, most of which have come on the ground. It doesn’t help that the Miners are missing four defensive starters due to injury, but Smalley said the coaches and players must figure out a way to get stops.
"People were playing different positions and in positions where they weren’t totally prepared for what to do tonight," he said. "It’s tough to coach a guy up and two minutes later tell him, ‘You’re in a new position.’ Two minutes is an exaggeration; sometimes it’s 20 seconds. That’s on us, as coaches, to make those adjustments.
"You have to be able to know how to play every position. That might be unfair to ask, but that’s what we have to do, especially with how thin we are right now."
Smalley said he was extremely proud of the way his players ignored distractions many Snow Canyon players were flagged for personal fouls and unnecessary roughness calls and the officiating crew made more than a few gaffes during the evening.
"No matter what those guys were doing, no matter how many personal fouls there were, we didn’t respond," he said. "There were things happening in that game that our players could have retaliated against, but they kept their heads down and just kept playing ball.
"There’s things that happened tonight that you can’t practice for."
Following Smalley’s postgame speech, a number of players showed emotion, which speaks to how badly this young team wants to succeed. The Miners will get another shot at succeeding Friday as they are scheduled to host Delta at Dozier Field.
"That’s exactly what we have to build off of," Smalley said of his team’s passion and will to win. "These kids see it in each other."
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