Park City football seniors have left a legacy that won’t soon be forgotten
Josh Montzingo remembers the moment vividly.
While an assistant football coach for Park City High School four years ago, he had been hearing about a local group of middle schoolers who oozed potential. But he erred on the side of skepticism, because most parents or teachers believe their kids or students are the best there is.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect because I kept hearing how good these kids were,” Montzingo said. “I’d heard they’d won a bunch a championships and were good, but I had to see for myself. I had to make sure what I was hearing was actually true, so I went to a game to check them out.”
Fast forward four years, and it appears Montzingo, now head coach of Park City, was told only a half truth regarding this particular group of boys, who eventually grew up to be young men that just finished their senior season on the gridiron.
Yes it was true that this group of young men was good at football, as evidenced by the success they’ve had throughout their respective high school careers. But what was undersold Montzingo said, was what type of character all of the boys possessed.
An eclectic group of young men, this group of now-seniors had every quality a coach looked for in a football player. But they also possessed traits that excelled off the gridiron, characteristics such as communication, commitment, ability to inspire and selflessness.
“There are so many things I can say about this group, first of which with them being super talented which never hurts,” Montzingo said. “But what they’ve done off the field, the love of brotherhood they have for one another speaks louder than anything. They’ve forever changed football at Park City High School and within the community and that’s more than just their talent on the field.”
Twenty-one seniors helped make up the Miners football team that went 13-1 on the season, winning the Region 11 championship and advancing to the Class 4A state title game. This past season followed a freshman year in which the boys went undefeated as members of the freshmen team, and a junior season that saw them advance to the 4A semifinals.
“They helped cement Park City being relevant again, really helped put us back on the map,” Montzingo said. “This group put us back on top and in the conversation as a team to watch for in 4A. We weren’t in that conversation when they first started high school but they’ve helped bring back respectability and a new profile to the program that puts us in a much more favorable light.”
According to starting linebacker Chase Johansen, one of 14 starting seniors for the Miners, that new profile Montzingo spoke of began before the boys even put on a Park City uniform.
“I don’t know what makes us special from other groups of players, but I know that we are truly brothers and care for one another past the football field,” Johansen said. “Yes, we won when younger and we won just now, but for us it was more than that. We wanted to change the way Park City football was viewed in the community and the style with which we played with.”
Johansen and his teammates accomplished that mission this season.
This group had its stars, with Johansen, quarterback Jack Skidmore and wide receiver Mark McCurdy all expected to continue playing football at the NCAA Division I level next year. There were also other starters who only played football to just be with their friends, such as Division I lacrosse signees Dylan Bauer, Brady Baumann and Andrew Pederson along with track star Paul Baynes. Rounding out the group were essential role players such as linebacker Ray Rivera and, on the line, Carver Rodman, Grant Warner and Jimmy Williams.
“I could easily go through each senior individually and talk about what they’ve done for the program and what they mean to me and this team,” Montzingo said. “It’s not just lip service. … This group has all contributed in their own individual ways and is truly a part of what’s changed this program around.”
After the success the Miners have had the past two seasons, it’s safe to say that Park City is one of the premier programs in 4A — a program that Montzingo doesn’t envision falling from the top ranks any time soon.
“We haven’t reached our goal or mission yet of winning a state title, but I think we have really climbed pretty high, and that’s because of these seniors,” Montzingo said. “We are at the point where we should be very proud regardless of the outcome. I told the boys that one outcome doesn’t determine their entire career, because they can’t forget all the good that’s come beforehand.”
The legacy left behind by the seniors is something Johansen believes will be more important when they come back for their 10-year reunion than winning this season’s state title — although he admits “we wanted that pretty bad, also.”
“The legacy we leave is one of hard work and brotherhood,” Johansen said. “I like to think we laid down the groundwork of how to be successful, from all the work in the weight room, watching film and the little things. I think those are things that are sustainable after we’re gone, and that’s what we are most proud of.”
Montzingo couldn’t agree more with what Johansen said.
While each group of players is special, this group of seniors will always be family to him. After all, they’re the ones who gave him a chance to be a head coach, and have taught him as much as he’s taught them.
“This group definitely means a bit more than the others because we’ve been together since I took over and since they started in the program,” Montzingo said. “I was curious how’d they do in high school after having so much early success at the youth leagues, but they’ve just continued winning. I knew they could achieve and do great things, and that’s what they’ve done. … It may be cheesy and it may be corny but I don’t care, I love these boys and they’re truly family to me.”
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The Miners opened up the indoor track and field season with four athletes bringing home top-10 finishes at the 2020 BYU Invitational last weekend.