Miners plunder Pirates 19-8 in home opener
Early in the second quarter of the Park City High School football team’s home opener against 4A Cyprus on Friday night, the Miners faced a tough decision.
It was fourth down, but Park City had less than one yard to go to pick up a first down. However, the ball was on the Miners’ 29-yard line, so conventional wisdom calls for a punt in that situation.
Leading 7-0, though, the Miners decided to be aggressive and play to win. The play call was a quarterback sneak by Spencer Zur, who easily picked up the mere inches needed for a conversion.
Energized by the new set of downs, the Miners marched down the field, ending the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass from Zur to his twin brother, Collin, to extend their lead to 14-0 in a game they’d eventually win 19-8.
Zur said he knew that fourth down was a big moment in the game and decided to try to make a momentum-changing play.
“I didn’t understand what the coaches wanted from me on that play, so I just took the ball and did it myself,” he laughed. “That set the tone and gave us some life.”
Park City Coach Josh Montzingo said that’s the kind of senior leadership he’s come to expect from Zur and the other veteran Miner players.
“It’s just being aggressive,” he said. “Our guys know we have their backs and they can just go make plays. They like that attitude.”
The first-quarter touchdown was scored by receiver Beau Pederson on a 25-yard pass from Zur. Pederson also snagged two interceptions for the Miners from his defensive back position.
In the third quarter, kicker Ben Coletta played a big role in the Miners’ final two scores. After a beautiful punt pinned Cyprus at their own four-yard line, the Park City defense stepped up to the challenge and forced a safety.
On the ensuing Miner possession, Coletta drilled a 33-yard field goal to put his team ahead 19-0. Montzingo said he was pleased with the way the special teams units played on Friday night.
“They’ve done a great job,” he said. “They took another big step this week and I thought our kicker, Ben, did a great job. He really bailed us out today.”
Defensively, Montzingo said he enjoyed seeing players swarm the Pirates’ ball carrier on nearly every play, leaving no room for escape.
“It’s an emphasis,” he said. “We’ve been focusing on the rugby-style tackling all summer long. For the most part, they’re playing together and they want to go make tackles.”
The Pirates didn’t score until late in the fourth quarter on a five-yard quarterback scramble. The two-point conversion was successful and they recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the Miners’ defense held strong and forced a game-ending turnover on downs.
Zur said watching Park City’s defense stifle Cyprus’s offense all night gave him and the rest of the offense confidence.
“Our defense was phenomenal tonight,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without them. They did such a good job.”
Overall, Montzingo was happy with the energy the Miners showed in all facets of the game. Though several players struggled with cramping and other minor bumps and bruises — keeping athletic trainer Jared Romero busy on the sidelines — Park City showed its toughness and willingness to play for each other, Montzingo said.
“I saw guys who fought hard for their brothers,” he said. “We had guys step up and play hard wire to wire. The other team kept battling and when they made something happen, we had to step back up and cover for each other. We made plays when we had to.”
Park City (2-0) faces another tough test on Friday night. The Miners will travel to Kamas to take on South Summit (2-0). Montzingo said he expects a hard-fought battle from the Miners’ Summit County rivals.
“We’re right next door to each other and they’ve had our number the last couple years,” he said. “They’re a great opponent. It’s going to be another tough week of work. We’re just going to have to heal up and go back to the drawing board and get after it.”
Zur and the Park City upperclassmen remember last season when the Wildcats came to Park City and won 27-24. Zur said he hopes to earn a win against the Miners’ rivals this time around.
“I can’t even explain how big of a game that is,” he said. “Over at their house, it’s going to be crazy. I’m excited — we all are — for it. We just have to heal up.”
Friday night’s game in Kamas is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.
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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.