Miners, dominant again, earn berth in Class 4A title game with 48-21 victory
All season long, the Park City football team has felt disrespected and undervalued.
The Miners (13-0, 7-0 Region 10) didn’t become the No. 1 team in Class 4A until they were the only undefeated team left, for instance, and even then it took two weeks after the fact to happen.
Despite the fact Park City won Region 10 and conquered a challenging preseason schedule featuring two opponents that eventually advanced to their respective state quarterfinals, some viewed the Miners as underdogs entering Thursday night’s semifinal game against No. 5 Pine View.
Maybe now the Miners will begin to get the respect they believe they deserve.
Park City took down Pine View 48-21 at Rice-Eccles Stadium to advance to the Class 4A state title game next Friday. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. against the winner of a matchup between No. 2 Sky View and No. 3 Dixie.
“I mean, it’s all good but the final score speaks for itself so we don’t need to say anything else except on to the next one,” said Jack Skidmore, Park City’s quarterback.
Added Park City coach Josh Montzingo: “It’s great and it was fun, but nothing changes for us. Our motto doesn’t change, because we’ve got to keep swinging the pick and go 1-0 next week. We’ve got some stuff to work on and tighten up, but we will enjoy this tonight before getting back at it tomorrow because there’s a big trophy waiting on the other side.”
Thursday’s contest was a physical affair, in which the Miners defense and depth led the way. That and the return of Skidmore, who returned from an injury that caused him to miss last week’s 14-10 quarterfinal victory over No. 9 Snow Canyon, the closest game Park City had played all season.
“It felt great, and I honestly was just thankful that my guys gave me another week and another chance to play,” Skidmore said. “I wanted a second chance at this game for a year now, and these guys helped me get there. We have guys who can fill every position, you saw it last week when I went down and you saw it this week with the other injuries. It speaks to the resiliency of this team.”
Skidmore accounted for four total touchdowns, two throwing and two on the ground, while rushing for a season-high 133 yards in the win. He went 6-of-9 through the air for 163 yards, with touchdown passes to Mark McCurdy and McKnight Pederson.
Skidmore’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Miners were hit hard with injuries on offense.
Star running back Dylan Bauer, who missed last year’s semifinal game, which the Miners lost, ran for 148 yards and two scores on 20 carries. The classification’s leading rusher did most of his damage in the first half before an ankle injury in the second quarter forced him sit out most of the second half.
“A few of us didn’t play last year so playing on this field under the lights, it was great and I couldn’t stop smiling,” Bauer said. “Tonight we showed that we are a complete team and we just wanted it more.”
Two-way lineman Coco Lukrich suffered cramps to begin the game before a knee injury in the second quarter saw him leave for good. Backup running back Franklin Paas went down with a right forearm injury in the second quarter as well, but returned in the second half to finish with eight carries for 39 yards and a score.
With so many Miners going down on offense, Skidmore, McCurdy and Pederson picked up the slack.
McCurdy finished with four catches for 121 yards and a score and also rushed six times for 60 yards. McCurdy made multiple big plays. His longest catch went for 64 yards and his longest run went for 22, both on third downs to keep drives alive.
“We all expected this tonight and we all wanted this, thinking it would’ve been a disappointment if we didn’t get to this moment,” McCurdy said. “I like to make plays at receiver but I just like the ball in my hands to do what I can to help my team.”
Pederson, listed at 6-foot-6, made arguably the biggest catch of the game.
On third-and-7 from the eight-yard line late in the second quarter, the Miners held a 20-14 lead but were hanging on for dear life considering the injuries. Skidmore, seeing single coverage on Pederson, lofted a ball in his direction and Pederson did the rest, coming down with the ball and giving the Miners a 26-14 lead at the break.
With the offense taking care of business despite the injuries, defensive coordinator Cody Gardner and the Miners needed to execute their game plan against Pine View’s No. 1 ranked offense.
The Panthers came into the game averaging 45.2 points per game, best in the state, with quarterback Gunnar Crowton throwing for over 3,900 yards and 45 touchdowns on the season.
After giving up 14 point through the first quarter and a half, the Miners found a recipe for success: blitz and blitz some more. The remainder of the game saw Park City pressure Crowton all night, resulting in nine sacks and -17 total rushing yards.
“Cody did an amazing job, as he was all over it tonight,” Montzingo said. “He’s got a guy on the other side tonight who has a ton of experience and is pretty smart and pretty sharp, and Cody matched him move for move. He absolutely did a great job of getting the guys ready, and in-game when corrections were needed, he was right on top of it.”
Safety Kirby Baynes was sensational, finishing with a team-high 13 tackles while Brady Baumann added 12 tackles and an interception. Linebacker Chase Johansen finished with seven tackles, adding three sacks and three tackles for loss.
“That was a great team, and everyone in 4A knows that, so coming in and getting a win, especially with what we did defensively just proves a lot,” Johansen said. “I think the defense showed everyone that we are physical and we shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
After seeing its season come to an end one year ago on the same field in the same round, Park City is thrilled to have one more battle left. And even though the Miners have been underdogs all year, don’t expect them to change anything up.
“It’s what we’ve done all season and what we will continue to do, swing the pick and go 1-0 each week,” Montzingo said. “This team is a family. … And these boys truly go out and play for one another, as you saw all night. We have one week left so now we’ve got to go out and finish the job.”
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The annual Junior Nationals Qualifier for Nordic combined skiing returns to Park City on Friday, Jan.31 for its two-day event at Utah Olympic Park.