Park City High School pursues success after tasting victory on the gridiron last season
Pederson to move to QB, seniors will lead secondary
August 15, 2017
Though its record read a modest 6-6, the Park City High School football team accomplished something during the 2016 season it hadn't in the six years prior.
The year ended with a blowout loss to Stansbury in the UHSAA 3AA quarterfinals, but prior to that, the Miners secured their first playoff win since 2009 when it overcame a 21-point deficit against Cedar in the first round. Head Coach Josh Montzingo hopes that momentum carries over into his second year leading Park City.
That said, the team is tasked with replacing a handful of impact seniors from last year's squad, but Montzingo believes his players are up for the challenge.
"We've got a lot of holes to fill from last year, but we have some upcoming talent," he said. "We'll be young, but I think we'll be fun and exciting to watch."
One of the biggest changes the Miners will undergo is at the quarterback position. For the last couple of years, now-graduated Spencer Zur was a mainstay under center, while he fired pass after pass to his twin brother, Collin, as well as another favorite target in Beau Pederson.
This year, however, Pederson will be making the move from wide receiver to quarterback. Many high school teams place their best athlete as the signal-caller, and Montzingo said Pederson fits that description.
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"It is definitely a transition for Beau, but he's an incredible athlete," he said. "He's a great competitor. He can throw the ball quite well. For him, some of it is just about timing and repetitions. The more [repetitions] he can get, the better he's going to get."
Pederson admitted the change has taken some time to adjust to, but thanks to Montzingo, it's going along much easier. By playing on the receiving end of passes prior to leading the offense, the senior feels as if he'll eventually become the quarterback his team wants him to be.
"Between analyzing coverages, defensive fronts and knowing the job of everyone on the field, that's a lot to take in," he said. "But I think that my background as a wide receiver helps with the coverages. The new offense will help make the transition easier by allowing me to use my legs and make plays in space, which is where I'm used to playing."
With the change in quarterbacks, Park City will become more of a run-first team, something it hasn't been in recent years. It will rely heavily on the option attack, where Montzingo really sees Pederson thriving with a trio of backfield mates, Dylan Bauer, Max Meza and Joey Lukrich.
"We're a bit more of an option-oriented team," Montzingo said. "[Pederson will] be someone that can hurt you both ways. He'll be a good [dual-threat quarterback]."
On the other side of the ball, Tyler Shea — who was an all-state tight end last season and is expected to be one of Pederson's favorite targets — will lead the way on the defensive line. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds — as well as having fluid motion for his size — Shea could be a challenge for opposing offensive lines.
Conner Christoffersen — who's been grinding his way through offseason combines and was invited to participate in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl in December in the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium — will lead a very strong linebacker group, Montzingo said. Ben Sprung and Penn Komisar are slotted at the other two linebacker spots.
"I think he's the anchor of that defense," Montzingo said of Christoffersen.
As strong as the other defensive units look, Montzingo believes the secondary might top them all. Led by Pederson at strong safety, the group will rely on a handful of upperclassmen, including senior cornerbacks A.J. Adrian and Lukrich.
The team will also get Luke Hatch back at the other safety position after he missed much of last season due to injury.
"Love the secondary," Montzingo said. "I think we're pretty strong there. … I think that group right there is a lot of fun. They're pretty good."
All in all, the Miners have the pieces to fill the holes left by last year's graduating class — it's just a matter of Montzingo and company putting it all together.
In an effort to do so, the team has been enduring fall camp in recent weeks, working on conditioning and running plays on the turf at Dozier Field. But most importantly, the players have been doing strength training, which Montzingo hopes will help keep away the injury bug.
"Weight room, weight room, weight room," he said. "We've been pounding it pretty hard, and I think we’re seeing the fruits of our labor come through in the last couple of weeks especially. Not where we want to be, we still have a ways to go, but I think overall, we are head and shoulders above where we've been traditionally at this point in the year."
The Miners will kick off their season on Friday when they travel to Morgan High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Park City High School Football Schedule 2017
Friday, Aug. 18 — at Morgan — 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 25 — at Logan — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 1 — vs. South Summit — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 8 — at Payson — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 15 — at Ben Lomond — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 22 — Bonneville (Homecoming) — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 29 — vs. Stansbury — 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 6 — at Ogden — 7 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 12 — at Tooele — 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 18 — vs. Ridgeline — 7 p.m.
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