After beating No. 16 Logan last week, Park City hosts No. 9 Snow Canyon in the quarterfinals
When Park City defensive coordinator Cody Gardner addressed his team following the Miners’ second-round playoff game on Friday night, his message was very simple.
“I know I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but the one thing I do know is that zero is tough to beat,” he said.
He wasn’t wrong.
On the backs of a strong defensive effort, the top-ranked Miners held No. 16 Logan scoreless en route to a 20-0 victory at Dozier Field in their first Class 4A state playoff game after a first-round bye. With the win, the Miners will host a quarterfinal game on Friday against No. 9 Snow Canyon. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.
“We knew it was going to be a good game because they aren’t your typical 16 seed, having lost a lot of close games in a tough region while getting better each week,” said head coach Josh Montzingo. “I can’t talk enough about the defense and the game plan (Gardner) had, really well coached and really well called. The guys were just phenomenally fit and executed perfectly the entire time.”
Logan entered the game feeling good about itself after putting up 62 points in its first-round victory over No. 17 Ogden. But the Miners snuffed out the Grizzlies’ good feeling with a defensive game plan that centered on physicality and speed.
“It feels good to come out and do what we needed to do tonight,” said Brady Baumann, Park City senior linebacker. “Looking at their season, they had one of the toughest regions in 4A so going into this, we were prepared for what they do best, which is get the ball to their receivers. We knew who their guys were, we knew they had Division I athletes, so we just stayed true to us and did what we had to do.”
Logan’s offensive attack was centered on senior running back Kade Thornley and junior wide receivers Jaylen Sargent and Isaac Larsen. Combined, they entered Friday night accounting for 27 of the Grizzlies 33 touchdowns on the year, but were shut out thanks in part to Park City’s discipline.
With the Miners being the smaller team, they forced Logan to throw short of the sticks and relied on their ability to swarm the ball and make open-field tackles. The strategy worked, as Park City’s defense wasn’t threatened the entire game as the Grizzlies never reached the redzone.
“This was huge for us, it lets us know that we are doing the right things,” said Chase Johansen, Park City senior linebacker. “We trust that we are put into the right spots and it’s our job to execute, and that’s what we did all night.”
Offensively, it was a bit of a sluggish performance for the high-scoring Miners, who entered the game averaging 42.2 points on the year. Knowing Logan uses a lot of two-way players in the trenches, Montzingo attempted to wear down the Grizzlies by pounding the rock over and over again, sacrificing possessions for time of possession advantage.
Talented running back Dylan Bauer did his best to make sure the strategy paid off.
Bauer not only rushed for 191 yards and two scores, he continuously found open holes thanks to the blocking of the Miners’ offensive line.
“I got to give a lot of credit to my offensive line, because those guys just dominated all night long and opened up a lot of holes for me,” Bauer said in a postgame interview while laughing as junior left tackle Coco Lukrich hollered at him for a mention. “Tonight I don’t think we played as well as we could have, we still have a lot of things to work on and get better, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
As Montzingo reminded his team after the game, the Miners are one more victory away from walking into Rice-Eccles Stadium for the semifinals, where Park City saw its season come to an end last year. But instead of looking ahead, Park City is keeping true to what its done all year long.
“Yes we won, yes it’s awesome, and yes, we are one more win away from Rice-Eccles,” Montzingo said. “But we don’t even think about that. … All we are focused on is going 1-0 next week. It’s the same thing we’ve done all year long, and it’s gotten us this far so no point in changing it now.”
The Warriors came from behind to defeat region-rival No. 8 Desert Hills last Friday 42-31.
Snow Canyon (6-4, 4-3 Region 9) found itself trailing 28-7 at the half, before finding its groove on offense and outscoring Desert Hills 35-3 in the second half.
“This is another good, another dangerous team we face because of their size and athleticism,” Montzingo said. “As we saw last week, this team doesn’t give up and will always fight till the end. They’re well-coached and come from a tough region so they’ve seen a lot of good competition and will be ready to play.”
Junior quarterback Landon Frei was sensational against Desert Hills, finishing 15-of-22 through the air for 205 yards and three touchdown passes, all to different receivers. The senior wide receiver combination of Jase Mendenhall and Adam Anderson combined for 10 catches, 140 yards and one score apiece.
“They have a really good quarterback who’s a dual threat and can beat you with his arm and his legs,” Montzingo said. “The running back does a nice job but this a throw-first team who does a good job at running the spread offense. The receivers aren’t maybe as talented as who we played last week, but they’re still very good who can all get the job done, which makes them dangerous.”
The Snow Canyon offense will be a good challenge for the Park City defense, but Montzingo likes the matchup because of its athleticism.
“Going against Jack (Skidmore, Park City quarterback) in practice has helped prepare us for these types of games,” Montzingo said. “With our guys being as athletic as they are and so great at playing in space, it should help us a lot when trying to slow down their (Warriors) athletes. We also have athletes and it really shows up for us on that side of the ball.”
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