Miners football picks up first region win
Friday night’s game at Dozier Field didn’t get off to a very good start for the Park City High School football team.
After setting up a trick play with a couple outside runs, Josh Pelegrin took the ball for what looked like another sweep before stopping and setting up for a pass. But, as Pelegrin released the ball, the Ben Lomond defense recovered just in time, intercepting the pass near midfield.
From that point on, however, things turned in the Miners’ favor in what was ultimately a 45-26 victory. On the Scots’ ensuing possession, a fumble was recovered by Park City’s Parker Shea, setting up a 50-yard field goal from kicker Jared Robinson, who bounced the kick off the crossbar and through the posts to make it 3-0 Park City.
Trailing 6-3 after one quarter, quarterback Harrison Wakefield suffered an apparent ankle injury, limping to the sideline and forcing sophomore Spencer Zur into action. Zur didn’t disappoint, engineering a scoring drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass to fellow sophomore Jonas Loyens.
Then, trailing 14-10 just before halftime, Zur connected with Harrison Fugate on a 20-yard fade pattern in the end zone, where Fugate made an acrobatic leaping catch to send the Miners into intermission holding a 17-14 lead.
Zur said picking up two quick touchdowns upon entering Friday’s game worked wonders for his confidence.
"I wasn’t really expecting [Harrison’s injury]," he said. "I saw Harrison limp off the field and I got in there and did it. [The scoring drives] built so much confidence for our line, our receivers, everybody."
After the halftime break, Park City kicked off to Ben Lomond. Then the Miners made a play that shifted the momentum of the game and led to the big win, coach Mike Shepherd said.
"We made a really, really good fourth-down stop which really helped us," he said. "We made some good plays on defense."
On the Scots’ next possession, Andrew Davidowski made another big defensive play, bursting through the line and blocking a punt to set the Miners up deep in Ben Lomond territory. Shortly thereafter, Grayson Maddux powered into the end zone on a 19-yard run.
Then, leading 24-20 after a Ben Lomond touchdown, the Miners started pulling away thanks to a pair of touchdowns from Ian Moritz. First, Moritz scored on a 15-yard run. On the next drive, facing a fourth down, Zur found Moritz on an out route and Moritz bowled over several Scot defenders en route to a 31-yard touchdown to put Park City up 38-20.
Park City’s final touchdown came on a five-yard run from Pelegrin, who finally got into the end zone himself after setting up several of his teammates’ scores with big runs. On the ensuing Ben Lomond possession, Jackson Burton snagged an interception to secure a Miner victory.
Shepherd said Friday’s game was the best Park City has played all season.
"We controlled the line of scrimmage, at least offensively," he said. "And we were able to score some points, something we hadn’t done a good job of. That takes some of the pressure off the defense to stop people on every down."
Shepherd added that he wasn’t particularly worried when Wakefield was injured, saying he believes in both of his quarterbacks.
"I have all the confidence in the world in Spencer, just like I do in Harrison," he said. "I don’t think that when Spence comes in, we’re dropping off significantly. The only difference is, because he hasn’t had as many varsity reps, the playbook isn’t as expansive with him. We had to dial that down, but in hindsight, that was probably a good thing. We dialed it down to five or six plays and we were able to execute those pretty well."
Though Shepherd has been singing Pelegrin’s praises all year for the way he always battles at the running back position, he added that it’s nice to see Maddux and Moritz finally hitting their strides as well.
"Grayson was injured earlier in the season, so he’s just now kind of coming back to full speed," he said. "And Ian hasn’t played running back all that long because he was quarterbacking, so I think both of them finally felt comfortable tonight. We really started running downhill, which is something we haven’t done really well this year. Once you get the line getting a push and then you get those running backs getting a head of steam, they’re hard to tackle."
"Coach Shepherd just kept calling on us over and over tonight," Moritz added. "It was fun to put our heads down and run over those backers. It was great. And our line was so good tonight. We wouldn’t be able to run like that without the line, so big credit to them."
Though Ben Lomond fell to 1-6 overall (0-3 in 3AA North) with the loss, Shepherd said the Scots are much better than in years past.
"I’ve said all along that Ben Lomond is a much-improved program," he said. "I have to hand it to those coaches they’ve done a fantastic job with those kids. They’re tough kids and they ran hard."
Moritz added that the win, which clinched a spot in the 3AA playoffs for the Miners, showed that Park City can compete at a high level.
"That’s a big confidence booster," he said. "Ben Lomond is one of those teams that, if you let them hang around, they’ll come back and get you."
Now that the playoff spot is clinched, Zur continued, it’s time for the Miners to get to work on improving their seeding.
"We’re in the playoffs now," he said. "There’s nothing bad about that. We’ve just got to keep it up maybe we can get a home playoff game if we keep getting these wins."
Next up for Park City (2-5 overall, 1-2 in 3AA North) is a road game at Bear River (1-6, 0-3) on Thursday. Shepherd said he’s excited for the challenge the Bears present.
"Bear River’s got one of those spread, wide-open offenses," he said. "I’ll be honest with you I’m looking forward to it only because of the fact that when you play smash-mouth football and teams that run right at you, we haven’t done very well against teams like that. But we have some athletic people, so if they want to do a lot of pass routes and whatnot, we might be better defensively.
"Defensively, they’ve given up a lot of points, so we have to score. It’ll be really hard to shut that offense down. We have to do the best we can on defense and score some points on offense."
Thursday’s game at Bear River is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.
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