Park City football starts the season with a win over rival Wasatch Friday night
It may have just been the first game of the season, but Park City football coach Josh Montzingo knows exactly what kind of team he has after a 35-30 comeback win at home to open the season over rival Wasatch: fighters.
“Last year we were kind of the ‘cardiac kids’ at times,” Montzingo said. “But being in those close games last year certainly benefited us this year in that our level of confidence was always high. We knew we had fighters and they just proved it again.”
The win gave Park City a chance to avenge last season’s matchup, which went down in the books as a loss for the Miners when inclement weather caused the game to be canceled.
“It was rough with the way last year’s game ended,”Park City senior quarterback Jack Skidmore said. “This win meant a lot to us because we felt like we had unfinished business with them.”
Pain from a broken left forearm Skidmore suffered three weeks ago while playing soccer caused him to miss the opening drive of the second half. The Miners found themselves with their backs against the wall.
They’d given up 17 consecutive points since the first half and found themselves trailing 24-20.
Seeing how badly the offense struggled when wide receiver Mark McCurdy and backup quarterback Carson Tabaracci split duties in that first series of the half, Skidmore knew he had to make a decision.
He suited back up.
“We told him going into the game that if he didn’t feel up for it, to let us know and we’d go from there,” Montzingo said. “But when he was out on the sideline, he quickly realized was ready to get back in. … So I knew I had to trust him to go in; be that calming presence that we needed and he did just that.”
The decision to re-enter Skidmore paid dividends as the senior promptly led the Miners on back-to-back scoring drives, for a 35-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter off a rushing touchdown.
Outside of Skidmore’s return, the Miners showed resilience on both sides of the ball.
The defense recovered from its skid to get physical when needed in clutch time. After Park City regained the lead late in the third quarter, senior defensive back Kirby Baynes intercepted Wasatch quarterback Parker Quinton on the Wasps’ next possession to get the Miners the ball back quickly.
“(Wasatch has) a new offensive coordinator so we knew going into it, it would have to be a chess match, and that’s exactly what it was,” Montzingo said. “But you could tell that in the second half, our guys started to find their way more and it really showed.”
With Wasatch looking to make it a one-score game, Baynes and the defense came up big again. The Wasps went with a double pass in the red zone, but Baynes broke it up in the endzone. Then on fourth-and-12, senior linebacker Chase Johansen harassed Quinton into an incomplete pass and getting the Miners the ball back with less than three minutes to go. With another interception by Paul Baynes, Kirby’s brother, it wasn’t a good night for the Wasps quarterback.“The Baynes brothers, Kirby and Paul, both got interceptions for us and that was huge,” Montzingo said of the Miners’ string of forced turnovers. “(The Baynes brothers) really solidify the back end of our defense and both just played extremely smart games.”
Johansen had a game-high 14 tackles while fellow linebacker Brady Baumann added 10.
For as well as the defense played when its back was against the wall, the offense was as equally impressive during spurts.
McCurdy looked every part of the 1st-team all-state award he received last year, finishing with five catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Dylan Bauer complimented Skidmore, helping take over in the second half and finishing with 87 yards on 19 carries.
Skidmore finished 11-of-15 passing for 208 yards and three touchdowns while adding 29 yards and a touchdown rushing.
The size and physicality of 5A Wasatch looked as if it was going to take the Miners out of the game, but Park City stuck with their game plan and kept fighting, despite the setbacks.
“When we are healthy we are a scary team on offense,” Skidmore said. “Crazy to think but we aren’t fully healthy yet, missing one of our starting receivers and a couple of linemen. It’ll be fun to watch when we are all healthy and good to go.”
The Miners have played just 48 minutes of football this season, but following what he witnessed out of his squad Friday night, Montzingo believes his team can improve on last year’s run to the state semifinals.
“Good thing is that we’ve been in that situation before,” Montzingo said of his team trailing early on. “Last year we were kind of the cardiac kids at times. Being in those types of games last year certainly benefited us this year in that our level of confidence was always high.”
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.