Miners overcome absence of starting quarterback to advance to state semifinals
If Park City was going to return to Rice-Eccles Stadium and the Class 4A state semifinals, it was going to have do so without starting quarterback Jack Skidmore.
Ruled out with an undisclosed injury suffered last week, Skidmore, who serves as the offensive director for the Miners, was left to watch the game from the sideline, not knowing if he would get one more chance to suit up in the red and black.
It turns out Park City could survive without the senior signal-caller, as the top-ranked Miners came from behind to defeat No. 9 Snow Canyon 14-10 on Friday night at Dozier Field.
“This means everything to us, because every year each program has certain goals and getting back to Rice-Eccles was one of ours,” said Josh Montzingo, Park City’s coach. “We wanted to make sure we get everyone back for an extra week, making sure Jack gets one more game and doesn’t end his career on the sideline. It’s about playing something bigger for you. … It’s about playing for your brother.”
With Skidmore sidelined, Montzingo elected for a similar game plan as the one employed in last week’s victory: feed senior running back Dylan Bauer the ball behind a physical offensive line and rely on a nasty defense to limit the Warriors’ attack.
“We were definitely missing that comfort level without Jack, but we put the workhorse to work and Dylan, well Dylan did what he does,” Montzingo said. “We were able to chew the clock, which helped the defense. Our defense, when they had to make plays, they did exactly that. This is a team that helps out each side of the ball with what they do, and you saw that tonight.”
Bauer was once again sensational for the Miners, constantly carrying the load and battering the Snow Canyon defense. He scored each of Park City’s two touchdowns, and if not for a fumble late in the game, would’ve played perfectly.
“Our line was killing it tonight, they were balling tonight,” Bauer said of his offensive line. “They were putting in work all night and made it relatively easy for me. That’s a big team and we were able to move them, be more physical and beat them on the line.”
Wanting to wear the Warriors down late in the game, the offensive line, led by senior center Jimmy Williams and junior Coco Lukrich, did just that.
Late in the game and leading by four, Park City had the ball with 3:26 left on its own 12-yard line. Due to time-management issues by Snow Canyon, the Warriors were out of timeouts, making the Miners that much closer to victory. Wanting to eat the clock, and not risk a turnover throwing the ball, Montzingo put the ball in Bauer’s hands and trusted his offensive line to get the job done.
Needing two first downs to win the game, Bauer ripped off a 30-yard run on the opening play. He then hammered the pick down by rushing for 11 yards on his next two carries, running out the clock and ensuring Park City’s berth in the state semifinals for the second consecutive season.
“I just knew I had to come back from that fumble, terrible time for that,” Bauer said. “But at the end of the game, I knew I had to get those yards to give my team a chance. I had to get my team back in it and we did it.”
With the offense doing just enough, it once again fell on the defense’s shoulders to get the win. And like they’ve performed all season long, senior Brady Baumann and his crew came to play.
After the Miners took the 14-10 lead following their first drive of the second half, it came down to Baumann and fellow seniors Ray Rivera and Chase Johansen to make the plays needed.
Using a “bend but don’t break” style of play, the Miners were fine with trading field goals for touchdowns, allowing the Warriors to drive down the field but not reach the end zone.
“This feels good, so good for us,” Rivera said. “We relied on each other, we all have faith in each one of us to do their job. … Tonight we trusted the guy next to us to get the job done.”
With their back against the wall twice late in the fourth quarter, the Miners got stops on fourth down, preventing Snow Canyon from scoring. Junior Kirby Baynes, typically a starter at cornerback but filling in for his injured brother Paul, got the first stop when he broke up a pass to Warriors star receiver Jace Mendenhall in the end zone.
“No. 3 (Mendenhall) lined up across from me and I know he’s one of their better players so I knew it was probably going to him,” Baynes said. “It was one-on-one and I knew I had to play my best. … I saw his eyes go up for the ball and I played it how I usually play it, knocking it out at the end.”
Snow Canyon got one more chance, following Bauer’s first fumble of the season. On fourth-and-three from the Park City 12, Baumann drilled Warriors quarterback Landon Frei as he released the ball, causing the ball to be off target and land incomplete.
“With the teams down south, they’re big-play teams and tonight we did a good job of stopping that,” Baumann said. “Each guy on the defense knew what their job was and then went out and did it, and that speaks a lot to who we are. We were ready for tonight and now, we’ll go and get ready for next week.”
With the win, the Miners now get the opportunity to return to Rice-Eccles Stadium, the same place they saw their season end last year. Park City will face No. 5 Pine View, a 43-36 winner over No. 4 Green Canyon, on Thursday night at 6 p.m.
“We knew we had a fight on our hands, watched them on film and thought, ‘Oh my goodness’,” Montzingo said. “We wanted to earn getting there and we can definitely say we did that.”
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The Miners are truly a brotherhood, relying on one another to help their teammates go farther. After a few players missed last year’s 4A state semifinal game, this year’s group made sure those guys got the chance to experience this year’s semifinals. When injuries last week had the chance to derail the season, unsung heroes stepped up for the win. Now No. 1 Park City faces No. 2 Sky View in the 4A state title game on Friday at Rice Eccles Stadium.