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Ready to go

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

Summer is officially winding down and high school camps around the state opened this week.

In Park City, Brandon Matich started his third season as head coach bright and early at 7 a.m. on Monday morning. High schools are allowed to practice twice a day, but Matich has opted for one long morning practice so the boys can stay motivated and avoid the late-afternoon heat.

The Miners are less than two weeks away from their opening kick-off, which will take place in Park City with a home game against Canyon View High School. Unlike previous years where the team played at home for a few weeks in a row, the team will play a number of away games early in the season.

Matich is hoping that the Park City community will come out for the first game of the season even though it will still be mid-August.

"We’re hoping everyone comes out to support us," Matich said.

As to who will lead the team in that first game that is still a question mark. Vying for the quarterback position are senior Scott Neuenschwander and junior Erik Walker. Neuenschwander comes in with experience after starting at the quarterback position in five games last year and going 5-0. Walker may not have the experience, but he has the skills. The speedy Walker is known for his athleticism and has already made a name for himself at other positions.

The boys want the position, but they have managed to stay friends.

"We help each other. We critique each other, but it’s still a battle," Neuenschwander.

Matich said that he may wait until after the first game to make the quarterback decision, and play both boys in that first game.

"We’ll see who rises to the occasion," he said.

The team will bring experience at other positions, including at receiver. Senior receiver Tony Epperson is not only tall with good hands, but also brings a wealth of leadership to the team. After a somewhat unfocused first practice on Monday, Epperson, a team captain, said he takes it on himself and other team leaders to "rally the troops."

"If things get really out of hand, we’ll hold a team meeting after practice," Epperson said.

Other team captains include Walker, Neuenschwander, linebacker Harrison Bevans and running Dylan Chynoweth. Matich is expecting big things out of his captains, both on and off the field. The Miners will also expect a lot out of kicker Ben Portwood, a senior, who is one of the top kickers in the 3A division.

With a few days before Canyon View, the Miners think they’ll be ready for not only the first game but rest of the season.

"I think were going to be really good," Walker said. "We have a quick offensive line and a fast backfield."

The first game could be a learning experience. Canyon View has a new coaching staff, so Matich and the rest of his coaching staff will have to prepare the Miners without knowing what their opponents will do.

"The hard part about a first game with a new coaching staff is you don’t know what they’re going to do," Matich said. "Were going to stick to our game and hope that it’s good enough."

The pressure will continue to increase for the team, that faces Logan on the road in their second week of the season. The Miners were knocked out of the playoffs by Logan last year a memory so fresh in their minds that they are wearing it on their practice jerseys. Each jersey has an 18 on it to remind the players of last year’s final game, where they lost their lead over the Grizzlies with just 18 seconds left and then lost their chance to advance in the playoffs. Matich said that the 18 is to remind the team to finish in all games.

"It’s so we don’t have another disappointment," Walker said. "Not just against Logan, but everybody."

The Miners will begin their season on Friday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. at Dozier Field against Canyon View.


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