Season to remember comes to a close as Miners fall in semis
The Park City High School Miners, red-eyed and quiet, hugged their teammates under the bright lights of Rice-Eccles Stadium, and started walking toward the exit after the Class 4A state semifinal football game. On their way to the bus, they passed under the massive scoreboard that read: Dixie 20, Park City 0.
“It’s been a ride,” said head coach Josh Montzingo. “We’d like it to keep going, but it’s over now.”
It was a season to remember for the Miners. Not since 2009, when the team was in the hands of coach Brandon Matich had Park City reached the semifinals.
But celebration was the furthest thing from the Miners’ minds. Park City had come so far – demolishing both Ogden and Tooele to secure an unlikely first-place finish in Region 11, edging out Ridgeline 23-21 to secure the team’s first home playoff game in years, then beating both Salem Hills and Sky View through improbable, aggressive plays to earn a spot in the semifinals.
Buy the time the Miners got to Rice-Eccles, they believed their Thursday night game against the Flyers would end just like the others had – with a W.
“We’re crazy like that,” Montzingo said.
But the Region 9 champion was ready.
For most of the season, Park City has been a running team. As the season progressed, some excellent combinations between junior quarterback Jack Skidmore and junior wide receiver Marc McCurdy gave the team the power of the pass. But were the Miners a passing team or a running team on Thursday? Dixie made sure they were neither.
Over the course of the game, the Miners had a total of 198 yards – 84 on the ground, 114 through the air.
Some of the difficulty in the Miners’ ground game was self inflicted. Dylan Bauer, the team’s leading rusher with 846 yards this season on 153 carries – three times as many as any other Miner – was conspicuously absent from the field after an on-field tussle during the game against Sky View. Junior running back Grant Warner filled the gap the best he could, earning a team-high 31 yards on six carries. Brady Buamann had 29 yards, while Skidmore had 26.
Skidmore’s were hard earned, occasionally resulting from last-ditch efforts when the Flyers were living up to their name in pass coverage. McCurdy did his part, leading the team in receptions and gaining 67 yards, but he seldom had room to move after he caught the ball. His marker, Dixie defensive back Tyler Walden, came up with two interceptions, and could have had four.
Neither team scored in the first quarter. With 10:14 left in the second, Flyers quarterback Reggie Graff threw a touchdown to senior wide receiver Nathaniel Mahi to put Dixie on the board.
Graff scored Dixie’s second touchdown alone. With 11:20 seconds left in the third quarter, he faked a handoff, split the defense and ran 49 yards to the Park City end zone.
Graff engineered the game’s final touchdown with 10:06 left in the game: A 38-yard pass to senior wide receiver Joshua Cazier.
After the game, Montzingo said he considered it a successful year for the Miners.
“We’re just young,” he said.
He had told the team not to hang their heads over their performance, but on the way out, their body language was clear. They wanted nothing short of a championship.
“We just believed we would find a way,” Montzingo said. “Because we have so many times this season.”
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Facing a region opponent early on was not ideal for Park City head coach Micaela Carriel, especially considering her girls had just moved up to 5A Region 8 after spending last season in 4A.