After an undefeated start in pre-region play, Miners start Region 10 ranked fourth in the state
Last season, Park City football saw its dream season come to a crushing end when they lost to Dixie 20-0 in the Class 4A semifinals. The fact that the Miners were able to make it to the final four was a feat in itself considering they entered the 2018 season on nobody’s radar.
This year, that might not be the case as the Miners have run through their pre-region schedule undefeated following a 33-16 victory over 6A West last Friday.
“Our expectations have definitely increased this year because of last year. … Last year I believe we snuck up on some people, surprised some people with the way we played,” Montzingo said after the game. “Now that advantage is gone and we will be getting each team’s best game.”
Park City’s most recent victory over West showed how much potential this team has at being a true contender for the Class 4A state championship, although Montzingo and his boys won’t admit so.
“There’s a method to starting our season with such challenging games because no matter what, win or lose, our boys will know what it’s like to face some of the better teams in the state,” Montzingo said. “I’d much rather lose some of the early games, although we want to win every game, and learn from those losses to help prepare us for a long postseason run. I want my boys to know what it’s like to be against a wall instead of facing that for the first time in the postseason, this way we will be ready ahead of time.”
While they don’t want to admit it, they’re one of the top teams in Class 4A, where MaxPreps currently has them ranked fourth in the state. Dixie (St. George), Green Canyon (North Logan) and Sky View (Smithfield) make up the top three teams in 4A, with the Miners right behind them. Based on overall rating through the MaxPreps system, the gap is greater between Park City and the fifth place team in the state Ridgline (Millview), 10.5 points, than it is between the Miners and Dixie, 8.0 points.
“I really like where we are coming from and the direction we are heading in,” Montzingo said. “All of our hard work that we’ve put in is really paying off and right now this is a confident group of guys. It’s been a tough preseason, but really good for ourselves and all we can do is continue to prepare for each game without looking ahead.
Montzingo has preached to his team about flushing the success of the previous week and preparing for just the next game, something he has says has been vital to their winning streak.
“We just stick with our process, continuing to swing the pick over and over again and focusing on that,” Montzingo said. “Back in the old (mining) days you were swinging a pick over and over again to make a difference. Each swing you kept getting closer to your goal, never losing sight of it, and if you stay with steps, you could ignore noise on the outside, which for us is getting more attention.”
With three wins under their belt, the Miners are now starting to find their identity. Offensively, this is a team that likes to spread opponents out to get the ball into the hands of their athletes with free space to run. Defensively, this is an opportunistic group, already having forced 11 turnovers in the three games with three defensive touchdowns as well.
But Montzingo knows that the Miners can’t rest on their laurels despite the undefeated start. The combination of how his squad finished last year with the quick start this season, he knows their Region 10 opponents will all be gunning for Park City, a message he has conveyed over and over again starting in the summer.
“We’ve talked for so long about getting each team’s best shot and playing with a target on your back, which is something we have to embrace,” Montzingo said. “We won’t be scared of the moment but we also have to continue to properly prepare for each week instead of looking ahead. The boys are understanding that, which makes me believe that they’re ready to go.”
Park City begins Region 10 play this week with a home matchup against Uintah High School on Friday night, a welcome sight for the Miners.
“We are really excited for region play to start because there’s so much pride when trying to win a championship,” Montzingo said. “When we take care of our daily tasks, they all add up to the ultimate goal, which for us is a region and state championship. … The boys know what’s ahead of them and they’re ready for this.”
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.