PCHS football wants to take next step in 2016
The Park City High School football team has had a busy summer. And, now that the Miners’ first regular season game is less than a week away, excitement is building.
Park City finished the 2015 season with an overall record of 5-6 (2-4 in 3AA North), losing to Hurricane 51-20 in the first round of the playoffs.
First-year PCHS Head Coach Josh Montzingo said the Miners are eager to put last year behind them and get started on the 2016 campaign.
“They’re excited,” he said. “They’re itching to play.”
As the Miners prepare for Friday’s season opener at Union, Montzingo said there’s still plenty to work on in practice, but he’s encouraged by what he’s seen thus far.
“We have a lot of technique work we have to tighten up,” he said. “But, as we improve our football IQ, our athleticism is really starting to shine through. We definitely have some athletes out here, but we have to put the rest of the equation together.”
Getting off to a good start in the first three games before 3AA North region play begins is important to Montzingo, but he said those non-region games will, first and foremost, be a way for the Miners to hone what they’ve been working on in practice in game situations.
“A fast start is always good for confidence and morale,” he said. “We definitely want that, but more importantly, I want to come out and be polished as much as we can, which means we know our techniques, we’re disciplined and we’re playing for each other. If I see that, I think we’ll have a good season.”
The Miners return quarterback Spencer Zur, receiver Collin Zur and lineman Eli Alford to an offense that scored 35 or more points four times last season. Surrounding them with playmakers is the challenge for 2016, but Montzingo is hopeful that some contributors from last year’s team can excel in bigger roles.
“[Spencer and Collin] are definitely special and you can’t replace that,” he said. “We’re glad we still have them. On top of that, we have Beau Pederson, who played as a sophomore and definitely grew into his role on both sides of the ball. [Tyler Shea] gives us a whole other flavor. He’s a big mismatch for most secondary players because he’s a big, tall, fast, explosive guy. He’s a lot of fun to have as well. Then, Joey Lukrich does a good job for us as a slot receiver/running back. We have some good pieces around Spencer and Collin.”
Montzingo said the Miners will try to be more balanced in 2016 after struggling in the running game last season, but will still utilize Zur’s strengths as a quarterback.
“We’re definitely going to try to run the ball and be a little more balanced this year,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to throw the ball, though. We have a great quarterback and it’d be ridiculous not to use him.”
Zur’s on board with an improved rushing attack, too.
“Last year, we just had me sitting back there,” he said. “We couldn’t run the ball at all, which really didn’t open up any play-action or anything for us. We need to be able to run the ball to open everything up in the passing game.”
Defensively, the Miners will run a 4-2-5 this year — four defensive linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs. Montzingo said that formation maximizes Park City’s athleticism.
“It gets most of our athletes on the field at the same time,” he said. “It gives us as much speed as we can have. Some of our speed actually has good size, so we still have some size on the field, too.”
Though most teams usually have more than two linebackers on the field at one time, Montzingo said Park City’s strong defensive line will allow the Miners to have an extra defensive back in the secondary.
“Our D-line is definitely going to be a strength for us,” he said. “Across the board, we have four good linemen.”
The road to the playoffs
The Miners lost by more than 20 points four times last season. Those are the kinds of losses Montzingo wants to avoid in 2016.
He said if the team is competitive in every single game this season, he’ll consider the year a success, no matter the final record.
“If you see a good product on the field and you can tell night in and night out that we could win at any time, I think we’ll have a successful season,” he said. “If we’re playing until the final whistle blows and we’re in every game, we’re having a successful season. The record will take care of itself at that point.”
That said, Zur thinks the Miners have the potential to have their best record since 2009, when Park City went 11-2 and won two playoff games. The Miners haven’t won a playoff game since that season.
“I think we have a legitimate shot of getting a home playoff game,” Zur said. “I know we don’t want to go down south for a road playoff game — that’s always tough for us. If we achieve that, we can work from there.”
Park City travels to Roosevelt to take on the Union Cougars on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Miners host their first home game at Dozier Field on Friday, Aug. 26, against Cyprus at 7 p.m.
PCHS Football Schedule 2016
Friday, Aug. 19 — at Union — 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 26 — vs. Cyprus — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 2 — at South Summit — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 9 — vs. Ben Lomond — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16 — at Bear River — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23 — at Stansbury — 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30 — vs. Judge Memorial — 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7 — vs. Ridgeline — 7 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 13 — vs. Tooele — 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 19 — at Logan — 7 p.m.
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The Miners are truly a brotherhood, relying on one another to help their teammates go farther. After a few players missed last year’s 4A state semifinal game, this year’s group made sure those guys got the chance to experience this year’s semifinals. When injuries last week had the chance to derail the season, unsung heroes stepped up for the win. Now No. 1 Park City faces No. 2 Sky View in the 4A state title game on Friday at Rice Eccles Stadium.