Undefeated, Miners ready to tackle playoffs
Three months ago, the Miners knew this season would be different.
They had the time in the weight room. They had built a solid team concept and believed in the words of Park City head coach Brandon Matich to "dream of championships," but few would have guessed that the Miners would wrap up their final home game with a lopsided 56-14 win against the Union Cougars, and sit undefeated at 10-0, Region 10 champs and the top-ranked team in the 3A division.
Quarterback Andy ers said he was one the few who knew from the beginning.
"I knew the closeness of the team. I knew how hard they worked," Byers said.
Matich also attributed their success to the team’s cohesiveness.
"I knew this team had capabilities," Matich said. "The difference is the closeness of the team. It’s been a great regular season."
The Miners’ united spirit manifested itself in more than one way. Besides teamwork and camaraderie, it seemed the physical closeness also made a big difference for Park City this year.
The Park City defense frustrated many an offense, holding teams to low point totals and capitalizing on turnovers whenever possible.
On the offensive side of the ball, the stingy line allowed star running back Jared Tew to run for a whopping 1,707 yards in the regular season.
"The linemen are the ones that worked the hardest in the weight room," Tew said. Colton Nichter, Patrick Kruse and Calvin Mutcher worked the hardest in the off-season. They created the holes for me, Dillon Slaugh and Brian Dwyer."
The offensive line also created opportunities for the Byers’ run option to exploit opposing defenses with numerous weapons besides Tew and himself, including Nick Vought, Searle Vincent, Matt Govin and others.
"Were not going to win games unless the line does their job. We’re 10-0 because of them," Byers said.
Against the Cougars the Miners displayed why they are undefeated, shooting out to a 21-6 lead by the end of the first quarter on two classic Tew-style long touchdown runs of 37 and 72 yards respectively, followed by another 45-yard score by Vought.
The pistol-armed Union quarterback Rhen Richard tried to keep the Cougars in the game early with a touchdown on a one yard quarterback keeper midway through the quarter, but dropped passes and a relentless Miner attack on both sides of the ball kept the Cougars from ever becoming a threat.
By halftime, the Miners had added three more touchdowns on runs from Byers, and Tew and catch from Govin to make the score 42-6.
The Cougars finally found the endzone one more time in the fourth quarter with another 16-yard keeper by Richard, followed by a two-point conversion to give Union 14 points, but not before Park City had added two more scores off of a nine-yard return on a blocked punt by Blake Cretin and a 67-yard run by Byers. That gave the Miners an astounding 522 yards of total offense on the night. Byers finished the evening with 143 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns, plus 40 yards passing with one touchdown.
The Miners must now reset the record to zero and focus on a playoff run that could possibly earn them the 3A state championship trophy. As was the case throughout the regular season, Matich expects that most teams will key in on the Tew, but he’s confident that his option offense and other talented skill-position players will be able to pick up the slack as they have all year.
"The beauty of that is that we don’t have to make the decision until we `get to the line," Matich said.
"If they key in on me, Andy will have a huge game. Vought has had a huge game. They can’t do that. We have a lot more options," Tew said.
Tew, who finished the night with 196 yards on just 14 carries, is hoping to add to his total and reach his goal of rushing for 2,000 yards in his senior season.
"Hopefully, I can break it by the last game," Tew said.
He will get his first opportunity in the opening round of the playoffs next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Dozier Field. The opponent had yet to be determined as of The Park Record presstime.
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