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High school football: Park City Miners 2009 preview

PARK CITY — The second group of seniors that coach Brandon Matich had after he became the head coach at Park City High are near and dear to his heart.

Through the group of Jared Tew, Andy Byers and Co. was ultimately upset in heartbreaking fashion in the first round of the 3A playoffs back in 2006, the things they accomplished and the way they accomplished them set a benchmark for every Park City class of seniors to try to live up to.

It's a high, high standard.

Matich believes, however, that this year's senior class has the potential to ultimately be as good as his '06 group was. Up to this point, this year's seniors have been nothing short of stellar.

"As far as this group goes," said Matich, "it's the best leadership group I've had, it's the most focused group I've had (and) their expectations are through the roof for themselves."

Matich said the togetherness of this senior group has been stellar, something he believes will pay dividends when Park City attempts to repeat as Region 10 champs and make another deep playoff run.

"This group genuinely loves each other. They care about each other. You don't see them without their arms around each other or doing stuff off the field, whether it's going to Bees games or hanging out at somebody's house and playing video games," said Matich. "They're always making good decisions, and I believe that translates into success on the field. I really believe that.

"That's why our saying's been 'Family' since I've been here."

Park City will have talented players all over the field this fall, but talk about the Miners' stellar senior class has to begin with quarterback Erik Walker and running backs Dylan Chynoweth and Mat Christensen. If the trio can get and stay healthy — Christensen is recovering from a ruptured spleen he sustained while at a Naval Academy football camp in June — the Miners will arguably have one of the best backfields in the state, in 3A or any other classification.

Walker has been offered by Dartmouth and Navy, Chynoweth has been offered by Navy and Christensen is being looked at by several schools as well.

In particular, Walker seems primed for a huge season, having mastered Park City's option attack as a junior.

"Last year (in a semifinal loss) against Juan Diego — it was really the only thing we had going for us — Erik never lost confidence," said Matich. "Dylan was hurt and everyone was keying on Erik, (but) he still had minor success in that game. He never lost confidence. He never lost his swagger. He still felt there was always a chance.

"I look to Erik," added Matich. "I let Erik run our conditioning. I don't do anything with conditioning. Erik comes out and does conditioning. I'd give him the keys to my house and my car, and, heck, I'd trust him with my wife. He's that good of a person."

Having had a taste of playoff success 12 months ago — Park City got to the semis last year after being upset in the first round in '06 and '07 — Walker says he and his fellow seniors are hoping for more this year.

"We had a goal of getting past the first round and then to make it to Rice-Eccles Stadium," said Walker. "We did that — we got to the semis and now we just wanna take the next step of making it to the finals and hopefully win."

Park City Miners at a glance

Coach: Entering his fifth year at Park City High, Brandon Matich has amassed a 28-16 record.

Key players: Seniors Erik Walker (QB), Dylan Chynoweth (FB), Mat Christensen (LW) and Andy Proctor (RW) compose Park City's fantastic offensive backfield and will anchor what promises to be a talented squad. Those guys will run behind a solid offensive line, and the Miners also have weapons outside, as Brian Schettler and Alex Molinaro are part of a talented wide-receiving corps. Most of those players will also star defensively.

Strengths: You could write a lot of things in this space. From top to bottom, Park City has a lot of talent, starting in the backfield with several stellar players. Team speed, character and senior leadership should all be strengths for the Miners this fall.

Weaknesses: Park City doesn't have a ton of depth in the trenches. The Miners could potentially deal with injuries at several positions, but not necessarily along either of their lines, where staying healthy will be key.

Last year: 7-5, lost in the semifinals.

Predicted Region 10 finish: First.

Postseason possibilities: Park City will likely fight with Wasatch for the Region 10 title, and the Miners should be considered one of the Class 3A's front-runners.

2009 Schedule

Aug. 21 — at Canyon View, 7 p.m.

Aug. 28 — JUAN DIEGO, 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 — at Delta, 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 — LOGAN, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 — at Manti, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 — CARBON, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 — at Morgan, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 — at ALA, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 — UNION, 7 p.m.

Oct. 23 — at Wasatch, 7 p.m.