Injury bug bites Miners on Senior Night
On most football teams, there are a few irreplaceable players. Whether their impact is physical, emotional, mental or all of the above, certain players just have these factors that make them invaluable to a team.
For the Park City High School football team, one of those players is Spencer Zur. The senior quarterback is among the state leaders in passing yards after eclipsing the 2,000-yard barrier this year and, according to Head Coach Josh Montzingo, he is an emotional leader on this squad.
Holding a 14-point lead over the then 7-1 Buffaloes at Dozier Field on Thursday night, momentum was on Park City’s side as players and coaches alike were amped up with each stop by the Miner defense. But when Zur, who was involved in both Park City scores in the first half, went down early in the second half with an injury to his left ankle, the mood on the Miners sideline quickly shifted.
“We got a little shell shocked with [Zur’s injury] at first,” Montzingo said. “Losing him definitely put the guys back for a second. You could tell. We let up for a second while we let the shock get to us.”
Shocked to the point that the Miners surrendered 35 unanswered points while the offense struggled without its senior leader under center. This, along with a handful of other injuries to Park City starters, led to a 35-14 loss to Tooele, dropping the Miners’ season record to 4-5.
“We got banged up. We lost a lot of guys in that second half and it snowballed quickly,” Montzingo said. “We fought back, started doing better, and then next thing you know, we lost more and more. We just ran out of gas.”
The Park City High School athletic trainer Jared Romero said that Thursday night’s game was “probably the roughest day injury-wise” he’s seen during his tenure. On seemingly every other play, Miners were hitting the turf in pain and being helped to the trainer’s table on the sideline.
Before all the injuries started to occur, though, the Miners were the aggressors. A stout defense seemed to have every answer for the tricky Tooele hurry-up offense, while Zur ran the Park City offense well in the first half. Using both his legs and arm, Zur was instrumental in helping the Miners to a 14-0 lead at halftime.
“When we had our starters in and we were complete, [we] couldn’t have played a better game,” Montzingo said. “[We] played as one heartbeat. It was really fun to watch them match, just step for step, everything that [Tooele] did on offense.”
Then the injury-riddled second half began, and it was all downhill for the Miners from there. To try and stay competitive after Zur went down, the Miners used a couple of options at quarterback, including his brother Collin, but it was to no avail.
Injuries will be reexamined to see who will and will not play next week, including Zur, who was seen on the sideline on crutches after attempting to tape up the ankle and gingerly walk around. Even so, the positive play from the first half was encouraging enough to build some confidence in this team with just one regular-season game remaining.
“We can play with anyone. As long as we’re healthy and at full strength, we can play with anyone,” Montzingo said. “We knew we needed to sustain drives in that second half and you give this team as many opportunities as they have, they’re going to find a way to get to you.”
Before the game began, the Miners recognized their 18 seniors on the team by giving them flowers as they walked through an aisle of cheerleaders with family members. After the game, these same seniors were seen on the field giving each other hugs after playing what might be their final game at Dozier Field.
“It’s Senior Night. It’s the last home game of the season, but with playoffs, you never know what you’re going to have. This is a big night for the seniors,” Montzingo said. “They know they are coming to the end after this. It gets kind of emotional, as we have to go on the road next week and they wanted to get one here for their last one.”
The Miners will travel north to take on Logan High School in their regular-season finale. The game is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m.
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It’s been a rough season for Park City, but a taste of the postseason could pay huge dividends in the future.