Park City to begin the 2019 state playoffs against No. 16 Logan |

Park City to begin the 2019 state playoffs against No. 16 Logan

Park City senior linebacker Chase Johansen, right, and junior safety Kirby Baynes, left, look to tackle West High School's Bird Butler during the Miners' 33-16 victory on Aug. 30. Johansen and Baynes have been essential to the success of the Park City defense this season, helping lead the Miners into the 4A state playoofs as the No. 1 seed.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Before the 2019 football season began, Park City coach Josh Montzingo knew this year had the potential to be unlike any other in not only his tenure, but also in program history.

The Miners, who have yet to win a state championship despite playing in the state title game four separate times, entered this year as one of the Utah’s best in Class 4A following last year’s surprise playoff run.

To help sustain that success and expectations so high, Montzingo knew his team would have go from being the hunter to the hunted. So he implemented a season mantra that, so far, the Miners have lived up to.

“Swing the pick.”

It’s what Montzingo began telling his team early this summer and has repeated nearly every day the Miners have been together.

“I didn’t know if the boys were going to understand what comes along with having a target on their back, so we’ve talked about it and they knew it was out there,” Montzingo said. “With each swing you kept getting closer to your goal, never losing sight of it. … And if you stayed with steps, you could ignore the noise on the outside, which for us was getting more attention.”

Montzingo says the mantra has become the official slogan of the team this year, allowing the Miners to focus solely on themselves and prepare to go 1-0 each and every week — and that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Park City entered the state playoffs as the No. 1 seed with a perfect 10-0 record. They’ve dominated their competition thus far, averaging 42.2 points per game on offense while giving up just 11.5 on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s the same as usual for us, nothing changes than what we’ve always done because at the end of the day we still got to go 1-0,” Montzingo said. “We have to keep working and take care of all the little details. … If we do that and keep swinging the pick, we should be good.”

Together since youth

The Miners are led by a group of seniors who played together since they were little kids.

According to quarterback Jack Skidmore, he remembers when he and his teammates would head to Dozier Field on Friday nights, dressed in their youth football uniforms and roaming the sidelines of the Miners games, envisioning being on that field one day.

Linebacker Chase Johansen recalled how he and his now fellow seniors would sometimes talk about playing for championships on the same field they grew up watching.

“It was such a great time playing with them when we were younger, but playing with those guys and the amount of fun we had and how much we won, we couldn’t wait to keep doing it in high school,” Johansen said. “We had some success as kids, won a few championships, but now we have the chance to win our final championship together. We are ready and can’t wait to begin playing.”

Due to their seeding, the Miners received a first-round bye to await the winner of No. 16 Logan and No. 17 Ogden. Logan defeated Ogden 62-27 last Friday, setting up Park City’s second-round showdown with the Grizzlies.

“We are hoping the playoff atmosphere is the same as it’s been all season long because the amount of community support we’ve received has been awesome,” Montzingo said. “We hope that place (Dozier Field) is packed and gives us the hometown advantage and push needed to win.”

Sizing up the Grizzlies

Logan entered postseason play losing five of its previous six games, but changed fortunes with a 35-point victory over Ogden in the first round.

The game was never close as Logan jumped out to a 28-0 lead after the first quarter and 48-7 advantage at the half on the strength of a three-headed offensive monster: senior quarterback Ethan Wilson, senior running back Kade Thornley and junior wide receiver Isaac Larsen.

Wilson finished the game 12-for-17 for 151 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Larsen, who added five catches for 91 yards.

But Thornley was the real star, running for 215 yards and three scores on 17 carries, averaging 12.6 yards per attempt.

On the season, Logan (3-7, 1-4 overall) finished fifth in Region 11, averaging 27.5 points per game on offense while giving up 34.2 points on the other side of the ball.

“They’re far better than what their record suggests,” Montzingo said. “This is going to be a really good matchup for us because they’re twice our size, and have great and highly skilled athletes,” Montzingo said. “Larsen is a future division-one receiver so he’s going to be a handful for us, he will definitely be getting some extra attention.”

Thornley is the workhorse at carrying the ball, averaging 104.9 yards per game with 14 touchdowns on the season. When it comes to pass catchers, the Grizzlies rely on Larsen and Jaylen Sargent, who each average over 15 yards per catch and have combined for all 13 of Wilson’s touchdown passes.

Wilson is completing just 48.7-percent of his passes on the season for 1,619 yards, but has thrown 16 interceptions on the year.

Defensively, Larsen is a feared ball hawk in the secondary with six interceptions and three caused fumbles. His running mate is senior safety Chris Shopbell, who has accounted for 84 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks. Anchoring the front line is senior defensive end Andrew Sheppard, who has a team-leading 102 tackles and 15 tackles for loss.

“They have guys who play both ways, so we are going to try and wear them down as the game goes on,” Montzingo said. “Last year, we were the team that got worn down quite a bit because we had so many guys paying two ways. … So this year being more balanced, we are hoping that an advantage for us.”

Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. on Friday night at Dozier Field. Adult tickets are $10, students (with valid I.D.) are $5, senior citizens (65 and older) are $5, while children 5 and under are free.

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