Park City has accomplished its first goal by winning the region championship; now focused on a state run
When Josh Montzingo stood in front of his team on Oct. 16, the message to be delivered was going to be short. Park City had just defeated Cedar Valley 47-6, clinching the outright Region 10 football championship and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class 4A playoff, which they will kick off Friday.
As Montzingo started speaking to his team, surrounded by family, friends and fans, each of the Park City players focused on what their head coach was about to say.
“The message was about how proud I am of them and what they’ve accomplished,” Montzingo said. “I told them that what they’ve done so far was good, very good, but we don’t want to be just good. … They now have the chance to be great. Never has Park City won a state championship in football and this team has that chance, depending on how great they want to be.”
The Miners finished the regular season undefeated at 10-0. Armed with an explosive offense and a stout defense, Park City has been unstoppable on both sides of the ball thus far, outscoring its opponents by an average of 42-12 en route to its first outright region title since 2010.
Montzingo wanted to challenge his boys from the get-go by scheduling a tough non-region slate.
“No matter what, win or lose, our boys would know what it’s like to face some of the better teams in the state,” Montzingo said. “I wanted my boys to know what it’s like to be against a wall early on and how to deal with it, instead of facing that for the first time in the postseason. This allowed us to be ready ahead of time and now we are peaking.”
The season began with a heated matchup against rival Wasatch, in which the Miners found themselves trailing 24-20 early in the third quarter before scoring 15 straight points for the win.
From there, it was a hard-fought 20-13 victory over Juan Diego before dismantling 6A West 33-16 in the nonconference finale.
Park City went virtually unchallenged the rest of the way, with its closest game coming in a 38-14 homecoming victory over Stansbury in week six.
Through the seven region games, the Miners offense scored over 40 points in five of them, including a season-high 70 points against Ben Lomond on Oct. 4. The defense was as equally impressive, holding opponents scoreless twice and to just six points two other times.
“We have a complete team and we’ve really done a good job of showing that every week,” Montzingo said. “This team is never satisfied and keeps fighting all the time, always wanting to get better. To be able to play well on both sides of the ball is a real testament to the boys because they truly want to play for one another. If the offense struggles, the defense takes it upon themselves to pick up the slack, and vice versa.”
Quarterback Jack Skidmore is completing about 63% of his passes with a 19:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while adding another four rushing scores. Wide receiver Mark McCurdy, coming off a first-team all-state nod last season, has 14 total touchdowns on the season, 12 of which have come through the air.
The defense has thrived as an opportunistic one, forcing 22 turnovers on the season, led by McCurdy and safety Kirby Baynes combining for seven interceptions, and defensive lineman Carver Rodman’s five forced fumbles.
Senior running back Dylan Bauer has rushed for 1,332 yards on the season (133.2 yards per game), which ranks him fourth in the state and first in 4A, despite rarely playing in the fourth quarter of games due to the outcome already being decided.
Joining Bauer among the state’s statistical best is senior linebacker Chase Johansen. His 114 tackles on the season (11.4 per game) ranks fifth in the state and second in 4A.
“Chase has been instrumental for us this year, not only being one of our leaders on offense but one of our leaders on the team as a whole,” Montzingo said. “Our defense has been great this year, and he’s a big part of the reason why. Without him, I don’t know where we would be.”
With their first goal achieved for the season by winning the region championship, the Miners are now turning their attention to winning a state championship and officially putting last season’s disappointing end behind them.
Park City, who entered the postseason as an underdog, defeated Salem Hills (28-24) and Sky View (15-14) to reach the semifinals, the farthest the Miners have gone in the postseason this decade. But a 20-0 loss to Dixie ended Park City’s dream of a first state title, prolonging the wait.
“I think last season’s loss, from being shutout to just struggling on defense, I think it really fueled us for this year,” Johansen said. “The mindset for whole team right now awesome, and although being region champions is great, our big goal was to go to state. … Our whole focus is now just on the playoffs. As the older guys on the team, we know how big of an opportunity this is.”
Park City will host the winner of No. 16 Logan (2-7, 1-4 Region 11) and No. 17 Ogden (3-7, 2-5 Region 10) on Friday, Nov. 1. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Dozier Field.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.