PCHS football turns up the heat
The Park City High School football team will have a new coach on the sidelines this fall, but by the time the season starts, the players will already be quite familiar with Josh Montzingo’s offensive and defensive systems.
A recent rule change by the Utah High School Activities Association allows football teams to spend more time together during the summer, something the first-year head coach appreciates.
“It’s not padded, but were able to do drill work,” he said. “It’s great. Any time we can get together and just run through some plays or have that mental time when we can slow things down and learn without worrying about having the pads on, that’ll help us.”
The Miners have put an increased focus on offseason weightlifting sessions this summer, too. When the weeklong state moratorium (barring teams from getting together) ends on Tuesday, Montzingo, who has been an assistant under former coach Mike Shepherd for the last three years, said he’s excited for his team to get back to work.
“We’re 8 to 10 every morning — I’ve got them on a schedule,” he said. “It’s everybody together. In the past, we’ve had a block of time and they’ve been allowed to come in as they’ve needed to based on work schedules and whatnot. I’ve asked them this year to arrange around our time and make it a commitment. We do it as a team.”
Montzingo wasn’t sure how turnout would be at the morning weight sessions, but he said he’s been pleasantly surprised so far.
“I was holding my breath, to be honest with you,” he said. “I know why we did it the way we did it in the past and it’s not wrong, it’s just this is different. I wanted to see that unity in doing it together instead of having small groups come in and out. I took the jump and, sure enough, they’ve responded.”
Leading the charge is a group of seniors who have had success at the varsity level, including quarterback Spencer Zur, wide receiver Collin Zur and lineman Eli Alford.
“We lost a lot of seniors last year, but this returning group is special,” Montzingo said. “They were very successful as freshmen and they’re very talented. They provide immeasurable leadership. They’re building some relationships with some of the younger guys. They’re grabbing everyone and saying, ‘Here we go. Follow us.'”
Montzingo and many of the high school players helped coach youth players at the recent Aaron Alford Memorial G.O.A.T. Camp, held at PCHS. Montzingo said he loves seeing his players put in time with the future Miners.
“Making those connections community-wide is important,” he said. “The younger guys look up and say, ‘Hey, one day I want to be those guys. I want to be one of the Miners.'”
A Nebraska native, Montzingo said he wants to cultivate the same small-town football atmosphere that is a part of Midwestern culture, where kids and families gather to watch the high school team every Friday night. But, he added, he knows Park City has to put a better product on the field first.
“We have to start with wins,” he said. “We have to be exciting and fun to watch. Coach Shepherd did a good job of getting us back on track. Last year, we turned a corner and started building in the right direction. We just need to take that next step, which is being competitive every week so people want to come see what’s going to happen.”
As the Miners inch closer to their Aug. 19 season opener at Union, Montzingo said that, in addition to working on new offensive and defensive positioning and systems, building trust in one another is the main objective.
“The big goal this summer is team building and unity,” he said. “We’re really focusing on making some strong bonds so that, in the heat of battle, we know we can count on each other.”
Park City will host its first game of the 2016 season on Friday, Aug. 26, against Cyprus at 7 p.m. at Dozier Field.
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